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Thou Shalt Not Criticize the Dear Leader
As Barack Obama rather awkwardly suggested eight years ago, the bitter among us tend to cling to God and Guns. The more desperate among us—in this case Hillary Clinton who got literally crushed in New Hampshire—has decided to cling to Barack Obama.
The Usual Liberal Suspects have almost unanimously praised Clinton for her use of Obama as a human shield in Thursday night's head-to-head debate with Bernie Sanders. In what Sanders rightfully called a "low blow," Clinton more or less openly accused Sanders of being disloyal to Obama, of treating him like Sanders was a Republican, and not being a reliable heir to President O.
This grand finale was after two hours of Hillary making the same charges, albeit somewhat more obliquely. Said Clinton, trying to politically separate Sanders from Obama:
"Senator, what I am concerned about, is not disagreement on issues, saying that this is what I would rather do, I don't agree with the president on that, calling the president weak, calling him a disappointment, calling several times that he should have a primary opponent when he ran for re-election in 2012, you know, I think that goes further than saying we have our disagreements."
LOL. The candidate who ran against Obama in 2008, claiming he was inexperienced, green, ignorant of foreign affairs, "not ready" now holds him up on a Teflon pedestal and decrees that he shall not, ever, be criticized—even by his political friends like Sanders. (You can see whole debate transcript here). Let's be clear about Clinton's assertion: "It's just a big fairy tale," as Bill Clinton called Obama's 08 campaign as they were heading into South Carolina.
There's a simple, transparent reason that Hillary is acting like The Dominatrix of Political Innuendo. Her defeat in New Hampshire went much deeper than anybody's expectation as she lost every single demographic group except the rest home faction. Now, as you have already heard 499 times, she is banking on the 55% black electorate in South Carolina to stop Sanders' forward movement and what better way to do so than, falsely, pitting him against the most popular black Democrat in history -- Barack Obama?
Clinton has also been applauded for her entire closing bit where she claimed she is "not a one-issue candidate" but rather wants to not only end economic inequality, but also racism, sexism, ageism, ableism and every other form of discrimination in the world. Note: Sanders is called a unrealistic dreamer for wanting to implement basic economic reforms that we can see working in dozens of other countries, but "pragmatist" and "realist" Hillary Clinton is going to go much further, occupy the White House, wave a magic wand (perhaps the one that belongs to Bill) and -- poof!-- racism will be abolished. Pretttty goooood, to quote Larry David.
Now, here's the real state of play. Again, for the umpteenth time, Clinton has been and remains the odds-on favorite for the nomination, but she is no longer inevitable. Sanders is not a goof like Bill Bradley in 2000 or Kucinich after him. Sanders has aggregated a massive following of folks inside and outside of the Democratic Party who range from people who simply voted against Clinton eight years ago (more than 50% of Democrats), people who love Obama and want Sanders to take it all deeper, people whose expectations were raised and then, indeed, disappointed by Obama, people who would never consider voting for anybody for president except Sanders, and several million young people who are voting for the first time and are rather pissed off when they are told by cynical elders that it is no longer legal to have great aspirations for American politics and they must settle for a paid speaker from Goldman Sachs.
Can you tell me, please what Hillary Clinton's message is? Can you tell me her rationale for running, other than it is just owed to her?
We know what Trump wants: Make America Better
We know what Cruz Wants: Make America Christian
We know what Rubio Wants: Make America In The Image of Dick Cheney
We know what Kasich wants: Make America Compassionate Conservative
We know what Sanders wants: Make America Free of a Rigged Economy and Political System
And Hillary Clinton? Huh? How About: Make me president because I am a progressive who gets things done and I am more realistic in finding solutions than Bernie Sanders who is not loyal to Barack Obama.
Political experts call this being a "technocrat." You know like President Michael Dukakis.
Think about it for a minute, objectively, please. Even if you love Hillary. Given that her message, boiled down, is basically "I am NOT Bernie Sanders," what on earth would her campaign be about if Sanders had not run? Can you put it in a sentence?
A Transformative Moment
Clinton must now win the Nevada caucuses on February 20. If she loses there, it might signal the collapse of her campaign. I'm even thinking of going there next week to volunteer for the last 4-5 days of the Sanders campaign to contribute my grain of sand. And, of course, she absolutely must win in South Carolina, nine days later. If she does, as expected, Sanders' path will narrow down to almost nothing.
I suspect if and when Sanders can no longer win, there will be great rejoicing and "I told you so's" pouring out from Hillaryland and her supporters nationwide. As to date, I have not heard one word about what the Democrats and the Hillary people plan to do about the half or the third of the party, and all those millions of new voters Sanders has brought into the process? Will they be guilt tripped, urged to vote for Hillary lest the Supreme Court be taken over by Storm Troopers?
Any Democrats have any plans on how you attract that generation of young voters who have already soundly rejected Clinton and keep them around for when you need them? Or do you plan to get your ass kicked again two years from now in a low turn out congressional election?
We are in another transformative moment, as great as the one that produced the first black president in 2008. Both political parties are decaying and limping through this election while gasping for air. This is also the result of the economic crash, falling wages and job opportunities, dismay over Obama's failed promises, and a clearly broken and completely corrupt political system greased by cash. None of these negative stimuli are about to disappear nor are the people reacting against them. When establishment institutions break down, people don't go away, they instead look for radical alternatives. They can go to the right or left...read your European history or observe the Greek elections.
The right, the low information votes, and the alienated crazies have gone to Commander Donald Trump. The young, the liberal. the hopeful have gone to Bernie Sanders (for the moment). Just where would you like them to go over the next 5 years? Or are you one of those Democrats who just wants to beat them and Move On with Magical Hillary? This is a pivotal moment in American politics -- which will never be the same again. Do you plan to ignore these warning signals? You think Trump and Sanders are just flashes in the same old pan? I don't think so.
When Sanders has TWICE as many small donors than Clinton, when he wins 80 percent of the vote of people under 30, something is happening, something is struggling to be born, and something is dying. But you don't know what it is, do you Mister Jones?
See you in Nevada. And raise you!
Down Where the Sun Don't Shine
Meanwhile, the Republicans move forward on their Death March into the butt crack of American politics, South Carolina (the state that gave us Jesse Helms and John McCain's secret black love child).
What a wonderful show! That apparently mythical GOP Establishment, we were told, was gonna love New Hampshire as certainly one of the more electable Governors would have a strong finish and could be the guy eventually taking down Trump.
Ha! That Governor turned out to be John Kasich, candidate of the media hacks, but hated by much of the Republican base because he can sometimes speak in full sentences and does not scare small children. Sorry, but Kasich is going to be sent to the glue factory in South Carolina (where he is considered a Gay Commie) and that leaves, yes, Trump and Cruz, the Twin Destroyers in very good stead. Governor Bush still is able to breathe but now only with the support of Dubya -- somebody that the mythical Establishment would rather keep locked up in his artist's studio attic.
Bottom Line: My money is on Trump. Just who's gonna stop him? This is karmic payback for the Republicans pretending to be Brown Shirts for the last 10 years. They got what they deserved. BTW, if you are interested in the question, Is Trump A Fascist, read this.
Today's Recommended Links
William Bradley on You Say You Want A Revolution: Good Analysis of what went down in NH and what's at stake in Nevada. Too pro-Hillary for my taste but still very much on point.
Writer Bill McKibben on what "change" really means. And my long time friend and knock-out Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston on what is behind the Sanders surge and what are its possibilities and limits. The real poop. Both pieces are here.
I was absolutely delighted to find this great piece by journalist/author Ray Bonner. For those of you too young to remember, Bonner was yanked out of El Salvador in the 1980's by his then-employer, The New York Times, under direct pressure from the Reagan Administration. Bonner had strayed too far from "objectivity" and too close to truth in his crackerjack reporting on the brutality of the U.S. backed regime. This new piece, re-examines the rape/murder in December 1980 by the soldiers we were supporting. It reveals the very worst and the very best in the world of U.S. diplomacy. Read it, or I will turn you in.
This Week's Favorite Photos of Mine
Taking advantage of a new moon and clear, dark skies, I spent a couple of nights this week in the very darkest part of Joshua Tree National Park photographing the sky. The full Milky Way will not be visible in the northern hemisphere for another month or so, but there were still, oh, about 90 billion stars to be seen.
I used a Nikon D810 and D7100 with an array of 2.8 lenses, shutter speed of 15-30 seconds and an ISO of 1600 up to 5000 for different exposures. The three captures below are my faves, all processed in Photoshop Lightroom 6. The dark blue one is simulated infrared processing. The middle image is low intensity HDR. And I sorta like the monochrome version at the bottom the best. See you in a few days. Tell your friends to subscribe. We are nearing the 1000 mark :) Send them this link or just put their emails in it yourself.