Political Yeti: A Tale of Two Atrocities

Disclaimer: This post is entirely political. If that isn’t to your taste, please head somewhere else. I am an unabashed Leftist and that skews the way I see things.

I have said very little about the elections this year, not even back when Bernie Sanders was running. That is for three reasons. The first is that I really don’t like reality TV and in my opinion, these reports and memes and jokes really aren’t any different from the scripted reality tv you can find on any channel. Did people watching the debates learn any substantive? Or was it mere entertainment? As John Dewey said long ago, “As long as politics is the shadow cast on society by big business, the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance.”
We’ll get to my second reason in a bit; it’s a bit unrelated.

But the third reason is that there is very little that can be said. Trump is a moron, yes. But it’s not the first year he’s run for President, and everyone seemed to forget that. It seems  manufactured how easily he rose to the top. It’s almost as if control of the media means something. And let’s not forget that despite how ridiculous, abhorrent, and offensive  Trump is, he’s not even as scary as, say, Ted Cruz or his own VP. There is not one good thing I can think of to say about Trump as a person, as a politician, or especially as a presidential candidate.

But … I don’t know that Donald Trump would make for a worse president than Hillary Clinton. Part of that is because he ran as a Republican. That means Democrats would oppose him, watch his every move. Hillary would be able to move with less encumbrance, as we’ve seen with some fairly conservative policies by Obama not be opposed by the left.

Sidenote, if someone like Romney had added more troops (30,000) to the Afghanistan War, refused to close Guantanamo after promising to, ordered Drone Strikes on US citizens, changed the definition of enemy combatant to any male over 18,  funneled billions of taxpayer money to banks, increased offshore drilling and generally helped the 1 percent, he would have been seen as a terrible president. Obama operates under different standards, apparently, and it’s reasonable to suspect that Hillary will too.

I’m going to say it: I think Hillary Clinton is a bad person. I don’t even care about the conspiracy theories and the right-wing suppositions. Her actual record is enough for me to know that as a liberal I can’t support her.

There are two things in particular  about Mrs. Clinton that horrify me.

Firstly she always votes for war. There are too many examples of this to list here, but here are some of the key points.

  1. She supported US bombing of Belgrade in 1999 (Kosovo War). She told reporter Lucinda Frank: [she] was traveling in Africa, called Bill, and: “I urged him to bomb”.
  2. She voted to invade Afghanistan in 2001
  3.  She supported sending 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban in mid-2003
  4. She voted to invade Iraq in 2002 – gave stirring speech in US Senate in support of it.
  5. As Sec. of State, she poorly handled the illegal military Honduran coup in 2009, but as recently as April 9, 2016, she defended the illegal coup. Honduras isn’t doing well these days.
  6.   She voted in 2006 to let US military continue to use cluster bombs in areas with concentrated civilian populations. 108 nations (but not the U.S.) have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions, because they are the single most lethal weapon for civilian casualties in war.
  7.  And recently she spoke of no-fly zones over in Syria. This worries a lot of people–I don’t think it will lead to WWIII– but it will certainly “kill a lot of Syrians” (her own words.)

There are a lot more examples (Libya) but you get the point. If you think American lives are worth more than people in other countries, than I get supporting her. That’s not a traditional liberal value, however, and it puzzles me how many liberals overlook the fact that Clinton in power means that a lot of poor people will lose their lives.

john_dewey_cph-3a51565

John Dewey – “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

The second point about Mrs. Clinton is that she’s very beholden to corporate interests. This is well documented. The NYT reported that Hillary Rodham Clinton will begin personally courting donors for a “super PAC” supporting her candidacy, the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has fully embraced these independent groups that can accept unlimited checks from big donors and are already playing a major role in the 2016 race.

There is indication of collusion between the Clinton Campaign and the DNC, and hiring Debbie Wasserman Schultz did nothing to distance herself from the speculation. Nor is the sudden vilifying of Assange, who was a leftist hero when he exposed Bush’s dirty underwear but now is more of a pariah than ever.

Forgetting right-wing rumors and unsubstantiated claims, her factual record speaks for itself. Hillary Clinton voted to bail out Wall Street, and the Glass-Steagall Act passed under Bill Clinton is one of the underlying causes of the 2008 financial crisis.(Admittedly, maybe she’s not to blame for that but it’s certainly consistent with her values.) She’s pro-fracking and has accepted millions from the fossil fuel industry, she voted for the Patriot Act twice, gave the infamous Super Predator speech, and she’s earned the praise of Henry Kissinger. Oh and just quietly? Trump isn’t the only one who wants to build a fence.

There’s a lot more, but I guess if that doesn’t convince you nothing will. I suspect that if Clinton was running against Reagan, liberals and moderates would have to choose Reagan as the more leftist choice. Perhaps it’s because my family grew up well below the poverty line, but I find impossible to ignore someone who consistently rewards corporations at the cost of opportunity for the impecunious.

I can understand voting Third Party. I can even understand the Chomsky “Hold your nose and vote for Clinton.” But I don’t understand this whole-hearted “I love Hillary” stance from the left. If you are reading this and you will/or have vote for Mrs. Clinton, I’d love for you to share why in the comments. I can’t see that a vote for her is anything but a vote for the American Empire, for war and bombs abroad and the rich getting richer at home.

Hillary Clinton is not Donald Trump; she appears far more intelligent, far more composed, and the people she represents a direct threat against are far less American. But the more I think about it, the more I think that might be exactly the point. Using a propped-up Bogeyman so that you are afraid of any choice but her. Maybe that’s not true;  perhaps Trump is a legitimate candidate. It doesn’t really matter.

By the way, my 2nd point that I alluded to earlier is just this. Ultimately I don’t think it matters for the US who is the next president. There is an idea that we need to act now to save the country, but I suspect that time passed long ago. But that’s a subject for a different time.

For the record, I’m posting this because I have seen many people I know vitriolically supporting Hillary Clinton. To the point where to even suggest an alternative is seen as offense. Many on the left have joined the right to become intolerant bullies when confronted by differing opinions. Luckily, no one reads this blog so I feel pretty safe.

In summary, this Simpsons episode is a little dated, but actually not dated at all.

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9 responses to “Political Yeti: A Tale of Two Atrocities

  1. We see eye-to-eye on this, at least 🙂 Good post!

    • We agree about almost everything! And as soon as you fight through your cognitive dissonance about guns, we’ll agree about everything under the sun! 😀

      • Ha! True….but no cognitive dissonance…just not finding guns to be a real problem in the data…+ the the whole infantilizing argument 🙂 I voted for Stein, so maybe a little CD there 🙂

  2. I respect your opinion and don’t necessarily disagree with any of your individual arguments, but I’ll pipe up and say that I will be voting for Hillary Clinton, for the same reason that I voted for Obama, Kerry, Gore, etc. Yes, democracy in the U.S. has become perverted to where entities with big money have more influence than citizens who can actually vote, and while there isn’t as big of a difference between the two main party candidates as there used to be, there still is a difference.

    To your point about Trump, the Bush presidency wasn’t as apocalyptic as I expected it to be, but it was pretty bad, perhaps one of the worst presidencies of all time. Obama hasn’t been great, but he’s turned things around in a significant way.

    Hillary will be pretty similar, and with the momentum in her favor now, maybe in 4-8 years, we can start to see some significant change with getting money out of politics.

    In the meantime, it’s important to be moving in the right direction when it comes to weening ourselves off fossil fuels and continuing toward reforming healthcare so everyone in the nation is covered without having to pay out of their asses. Hillary absolutely will do better with those things than Trump will. I also think it’s important for our nation to finally have a woman president, just like it was important to finally have an African-American president. We need finally grow up and face our racism and sexism in order for us to move past it.

    There’s a lot more that ways into my decision, of course, but that’s the short version!

    • As you say, it’s always fun to agree to disagree and thanks for sharing your reasoning with me.
      I have three things to say about your points though.
      1. Why would voting for Clinton make you think that it’s a step toward either getting money out of politics or weening ourselves off fossil fuels? She is exactly the opposite of either of those positions.
      2. I’d love to have female president, but I think we agree that it can’t just be any woman, right? Kim Kardashian isn’t qualified; nor is Snookie. So the question becomes about her qualifications rather than her gender. For what it’s worth, South Korea’s president Park Geun-hye is a woman, and she is tyrannical and corrupt, just like her father Park Chung-hee, who ruled Korea with a brutal iron fist until he was assassinated. Also I think think the leftists of the UK do not look back fondly upon Thatcher, nor do Indians fondly remember Indira Gandhi. So yes, a female president is awesome, but not so awesome that it’s the only criterion. If Helen Clarke or Angela Merkel could run, I’d be on your team. I mean, Jill Stein has been running for 3 elections in a row and nobody seems to care that she’s a woman.
      3. I guess voting for Clinton as an American is like going down into that basement and then NOT walking away from Omelas. Based on her own words (and past actions) we know that as President Mrs. Clinton will cause the deaths of many people, thousands or tens of thousands, but they are Muslims or terrorists or Middle-Easterns or Hondurans. They’re all safely the Other.
      I don’t mean to get on your case, but in voting for her do you feel at all responsible but the wars that she will start? The non-combatants her drones will kill? I would, but it’s a personal call.

      These are touchy subjects and I’m sorry if I lacked diplomacy. Thanks again for commenting.

    • I am totally disqualified to comment on this issue but it seems Obama’s presidency was not after all that beneficial to the African Americans and the rest of the black communities in the US. The same thing will go for Hillary because these people are not just one person who holds power, the series of connections and structures that shaped and created both Obama and Clinton is a traditional masculine and white structure.

  3. 1) I know the wikileaks stuff from a few weeks ago show that she said some harsh things about environmentalists, but believe it or not, she actually has the most pro-environmental platform of any modern candidate. Obviously, that’s no guarantee she’ll stick to her word, but I think popular sentiment has gotten to the point in the US that she pretty much has to. Part of that is the momentum from the Keystone XL pipeline protests (which worked and forced Obama’s hand to deny it), part of it is from pressure from Bernie Sanders and his supporters, and part of it is just sheer pragmatism. Clean energy is the way of the future, and businesses are figuring out ways to make money off it, so it’s a no-brainer from a policy standpoint. It’s unfair to say she’s anti-environment simply because she hasn’t been as aggressive as we’d like her to be on the issue. The US is big and has a lot of inertia. It’s no easy thing to switch to clean fuels and a clean energy grid when our entire national infrastructure and a good portion of our economy/jobs are reliant on fossil fuels. Under her Hillary, I expect to see us continuing to move toward clean energy, blocking new fossil fuel projects on public lands, and staying on target to meet the carbon emission goals agreed upon in Paris last year. As for, money in politics…yeah, I have no evidence she’ll go our way. She’s suggested she’d like to get rid of Citizen’s United, and I’d like to think she’s just playing the cards she was dealt in how she’s used PACs, but that’s just sheer hopefulness on my part.

    2. Yes, of course, but she’s as qualified as any male who’s run for president over the last 20 years. Hate the game, not the player! (Sorry for saying that, but I already wrote too much for point 1, and cliche idioms suffice to get the point across.)

    3. No, by voting for her, I don’t feel like I’m in any way responsible for any wars Hillary might lead the US into. Of the two candidates, I’m confident she’ll show the more restraint when it comes using armed forces. The reality of the matter is, anyone who steps into the office is walking into a impossible position where, again, there’s a huge amount of inertia–going back to the cold war, if not earlier–of US foreign policy. Like moving away from fossil fuels, it’s a slow process of disentanglement. Of our two choices, she seems the most willing to at least try diplomatic avenues first. There will be war, though. Of course there will. There always has been, and we’ll see matters worsened in the decades to come as climate change leads to more and more refugees. I guess what I’m getting at is there is no walking away from Omelas anymore. You can vote for a third party candidate, or not vote at all, but at best it’s an empty symbolic gesture. One of the two main party candidates will be president, and it will effect not only the US, but the entire world. Hillary is by far the best of the two choices, and perhaps the best candidate we’ve had in a long time. Is she perfect? Hell no. But she’s pragmatic, and that can maybe get things moving in the right direction. My conscience rests better knowing that I’ve made a choice that will at least give us that chance.

    To your point about Otherness, I’ll caveat everything I’ve said by saying that as a writer, even with a small audience/readership, I feel that using my writing to get readers to think about their irrational fear of otherness, has waaay more impact than my vote does (inasmuch as those two infinitesimal values can be quantified/compared). Ultimately, my vote for Hillary is a symbolic gesture,too. I live in California, which will go to Hillary regardless of how/if I vote. Still, for whatever it’s worth, I’ll endorse her as a candidate because I want those who are on the fence to vote for her.

    Okay, that’s all for me. You dragged my 4-year quota of politics out of me in one fell swoop!

    Good post, by the way. I wish more people could have candid conversations of this sort without all the feigned indignation and bombastic rhetoric.

    Peace out!

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