The Republican Campaign Playbook Returns

—An essay by our member, William:

If you have followed national politics for any reasonable period of time, you know that the Republicans have an essential gameplan which they bring out for every election. It is to attack the character of the Democratic nominee, on as personal grounds as they can get away with. Note that they rarely want to engage on issues. This is because, 1) they sense that the voters favor the Democratic positions on major issues; and, 2) their own candidates are not very well versed in facts, or the intricacies of complex matters. So, figuring that enough of the populace also doesn’t know or care much about real issues, they try to turn elections into some kind of personal popularity contest. Like, who would you rather have a beer with? Or who do you prefer to come into your living room and talk? Whom would you most want to be friends with?

Let’s look back some other recent campaigns. We all know that the attacks on Bill Clinton started very early. All about personal matters, of course. There were of course the attacks on any sexual peccadilloes he might have had. But the Republicans went on and on about Clinton’s draft status; how did he manage to not get drafted? The fact that virtually every single Republican officeholder pulled just the same strings to avoid being drafted, seemed not to matter. No one ever questioned them about it. But we had week after week of this microscopic analysis of whom Clinton went to in Arkansas; when did he send this or that letter, or stamp something in? Of course it was truly much ado about nothing, but it was all in service of the character assassination which the GOP relies on to win elections.

There was more. The “did he inhale?” nonsense. We heard about this on a daily basis. When a later Republican candidate had a rather clear history of cocaine and alcohol abuse, their people told us that this was off limits, and how dare anybody bring it up. And then there was this non-story about Clinton’s protesting against the war in Vietnam while in England. A non-story, but one which filled the airwaves. And then there were even worse attacks: right-wing tabloids writing that Clinton was running drugs over the Arkansas border; that he murdered people. You have never in your life seen any Democrat make such allegations about any Republican candidate, but it is almost par for the course for the Republican side. Do you remember the Republicans discussing actual policy issues during that campaign? No, with them it is always strictly personal.

Let’s move on to Al Gore, someone who had a reputation at that point of squeaky cleanness in private matters. Well, first they started with this idiocy about Gore not being able to choose the right suit color; vacillating; as if this were a metaphor for how he would serve as president. Then of course their main line of attack: that Gore was a fabulist at best, or a pathological liar at worst. “He said he invented the internet!! Ha! Ha! What an idiot!” Of course Gore never really claimed to have “invented” the internet; just that he had championed the idea. This line of attack then morphed into the, “He said he went many times to stricken areas with the head of FEMA. But did he really, or was he lying???” Well, the truth was that Gore had indeed made such trips, but sometimes with the assistant head of FEMA, so a distinction without a meaningful difference. But if one has a good memory for such things, you will recall that this took at least two weeks of the media’s time to gnaw on.

Then John Kerry. A bona fide war hero who actually chose to fight in a war he could have easily avoided. So the Republicans dredged up the “Swift Boat Group,” to completely lie about his war record. They made it the lead story for about six weeks, doing inestimable damage to Kerry’s campaign. People said, well, Kerry should have dealt with it head-on, and that probably is true. But that really obscures the point that people were blatantly lying about something that was very personal and even psychologically painful to him: his war experiences. And then in a more minor key, there was all this about Kerry being a “Frenchified sissy,” or something to that effect. And then who can forget his somewhat ill-chosen bur actually legitimate statement about “I voted for it before I voted against it.” That of course had to do with political tactics, changing a position on a bill which now had a pernicious rider attached to it. But this of course became another campaign diversion; once again the theme that you could not believe Kerry, that he could not be trusted, that he was a dreaded flip-flopper.

In every case, you can clearly see the Republican tactics at work. Make the public think that the Democratic nominee is a prevaricator, a liar, someone you cannot trust. Do this by dealing with personal issues and then trying to make them a metaphor for how they would act as president. Make the only issue of the campaign, “Our candidate is a good guy; while the Democratic candidate is a liar whom you cannot believe on anything.” In one sentence, this is essentially the only play in the Karl Rove Playbook.

With Obama, this line of attack was more difficult because of the racial aspects of his candidacy. Republicans feared being called racists if they were too blatant in their attacks. And John McCain, who has many negative aspects in his politics and approach, was laudably decent enough to discourage it. Karl Rove did not run McCain’s campaign. And the economy collapsed in September of the election year, so that it was virtually impossible to avoid talking about it.

But now we have Hillary Clinton as the very likely Democratic nominee. And we are clearly going to see the most vicious and personal campaign of all. The Republicans hate and fear the Clintons, because they have been, and still are, the greatest threat to their dream of taking over all three branches of government, plus the media, and thus creating a literal oligopoly in which billion dollar corporations tell everyone else what to do.

The Republicans have so far not even talked about one legitimate domestic or international issue in their attacks on Hillary. It is all about “her character.” And once again, it is the same dreary but unfortunately dangerously effective tactic: desperately try to convince people that they can’t trust her, just like they tried to convince the electorate that Bill Clinton and Gore and Kerry and Obama could not be trusted. “They are not one of us,” goes along with that theme, of course.

Now, I have followed Hillary Clinton’s career pretty closely. I don’t believe that she had one even minor allegation of questionable actions, or having been influenced by outside lobbyists, or any of that, as an eight-year senator from New York. Had there been any of that, the New York media would certainly have uncovered it. Actually, she was a very popular Senator, with about a 70% popularity rating, including support from many Republicans, who grudgingly had to admit that she worked very hard, and was very effective.

As Secretary of State, she was again drawing raves, even across the aisle. Until Benghazi, in which she was completely absolved of any responsibility by an FBI investigation. Loyal trooper that she is, she verbally took responsibility; but if any American bore any responsibility for that tragedy, it was certainly not Secretary Clinton. And she was not a Secretary of State who helped lie us into war, or whose silence was tantamount to going along with those who did lie; or who helped conspire to violate the Constitution, and ignore a Congressional Act, as everyone should know was done by Cabinet members in past Republican administrations.

But even with all this negatve history on their own side, the Republicans move ahead with their very obvious tactic, the only real one they have. Impugn the credibility, trustworthiness and honesty of Hillary Clinton; so that if you cannot possibly beat her on issues, you can try to make her unelectable. In this sleazy effort, they are of course abetted by their tools and dupes in the media. The “email scandal,” also undoubtedly termed, “emailgate” (ever since Watergate, Republicans who insisted that was about nothing, and that Nixon was unfairly pushed out of office, have appended a “gate” to everything, thinking that this would prove that Watergate was unimportant), is of course a completely trumped-up faux scandal. The New York Times, in their eagerness to push a story; and also to satisfy the NYT’s rather weird and obsessive hatred of Hillary, wrote a completely false story, for which they were excoriated by other media, including Newsweek. The Times never saw fit to retract their story on the same front page which had carried it in the first place. This utterly false story about “criminal investigation” has caused damage, because as every sleazeball journalist knows, you can get a lot of traction out of a lie, even when it is later clearly shown to be one.

But what the Republicans are trying to do is to simply keep throwing up these things, and hoping that voters will give enough countenance to them to cause them to vote against Hillary, even though they might agree with her on 90% of the issues. I can virtually see the Republican ads now. A screen upon which is superimposed black letters, which scroll along. “Benghazi. Mailgate. Whitewater. Vince Foster. Travelgate. How can you trust Hillary Clinton to be President?” Of course, the Republicans invented all of these “scandals.” After spending about $80 million of taxpayer money, Kenneth Starr had to admit that there was no Whitewater story or scandal. “Travelgate” was Hillary replacing the members of the White House travel staff, completely within the purview of any White House occupant. Vince Foster’s tragic death was seized upon by vicious crackpots to claim that the Clintons were murdering people and hiding their bodies. The point is that none of these show any lack of honesty or trustworthiness whatsoever, and in fact were invented as fake scandals by Republicans; but the Republican strategists think that mentioning these names over and over again will sink into the popular consciousness, as a kind of shorthand.

Believe me, this is all that the Republicans have got. This is really all that they ever have. They will not dare to run on issues, even if the media occasionally tries to get them to actually come up with some specifics. They will run against Hillary on personality; and the only way they think they can succeed there is by trying to create a narrative that she, an eight-year senator with an unblemished record; and a very effective Secretary of State, respected and admired by most world leaders, is somehow untrustworthy and dishonest. The fact that there is no evidence whatsoever of this has never bothered them before. That’s how they go about trying to win elections, like the misdirection and sleight-of-hand of a magician. But this is not a magic show, it is about the country, and about the dreams and aspirations of hundreds of millions of people. For the Republicans, though, it is just about winning by any means possible. So watch Hillary continue to talk about issues in depth, while the Republicans engage in their customary attempts at character assassination. Let us see which the voting public ultimately prefers.

The NY Times’ Criminal Headline

Last week, the NY Times published a false, fake, made-up, lying-liar story about Hillary, claiming she was the target of a criminal investigation. She wasn’t. The sources were likely Gowdy’s lackeys. (But I don’t *know* that.) Here’s the link, but be advised, the story has been repeatedly “corrected” from it’s original really, really wrong form to a moderately incorrect form.

The Times also issued this useless Editor’s Note.

Rachel gave a scathing rant. Here’s what The Atlantic had to say (nothing flattering to the Times). Even dKos. (Still never ever getting a link from me.)

Jennifer Palmieri, Hillary’s campaign communications director, sent a letter to the Supreme Poobah Editor of the NY Times, Dean Baquet. VOX ran the whole letter as well.

Here’s the whole letter:

Dean Baquet
Executive Editor
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, New York

July 28, 2015

Dear Mr. Baquet:

I am writing to officially register our campaign’s grave concern with the Times’ publication of an inaccurate report related to Hillary Clinton and her email use.

I appreciate the fact that both you and the Public Editor have sought to publicly explain how this error could have been made. But we remain perplexed by the Times’ slowness to acknowledge its errors after the fact, and some of the shaky justifications that Times’ editors have made. We feel it important to outline these concerns with you directly so that they may be properly addressed and so our campaign can continue to have a productive working relationship with the Times.

I feel obliged to put into context just how egregious an error this story was. The New York Times is arguably the most important news outlet in the world and it rushed to put an erroneous story on the front page charging that a major candidate for President of the United States was the target of a criminal referral to federal law enforcement. Literally hundreds of outlets followed your story, creating a firestorm that had a deep impact that cannot be unwound. This problem was compounded by the fact that the Times took an inexplicable, let alone indefensible, delay in correcting the story and removing “criminal” from the headline and text of the story.

To review the facts, as the Times itself has acknowledged through multiple corrections, the paper’s reporting was false in several key respects: first, contrary to what the Times stated, Mrs. Clinton is not the target of a criminal referral made by the State Department’s and Intelligence Community’s Inspectors General, and second, the referral in question was not of a criminal nature at all.

Just as disturbing as the errors themselves is the Times’ apparent abandonment of standard journalistic practices in the course of its reporting on this story.

First, the seriousness of the allegations that the Times rushed to report last Thursday evening demanded far more care and due diligence than the Times exhibited prior to this article’s publication.

The Times’ readers rightfully expect the paper to adhere to the most rigorous journalistic standards. To state the obvious, it is hard to imagine a situation more fitting for those standards to be applied than when a newspaper is preparing to allege that a major party candidate for President of the United States is the target of a criminal referral received by federal law enforcement.

This allegation, however, was reported hastily and without affording the campaign adequate opportunity to respond. It was not even mentioned by your reporter when our campaign was first contacted late Thursday afternoon. Initially, it was stated as reporting only on a memo – provided to Congress by the Inspectors General from the State Department and Intelligence Community – that raised the possibility of classified material traversing Secretary Clinton’s email system. This memo — which was subsequently released publicly — did not reference a criminal referral at all. It was not until late Thursday night – at 8:36 pm – that your paper hurriedly followed up with our staff to explain that it had received a separate tip that the Inspectors General had additionally made a criminal referral to the Justice Department concerning Clinton’s email use. Our staff indicated that we had no knowledge of any such referral – understandably, of course, since none actually existed – and further indicated that, for a variety of reasons, the reporter’s allegation seemed implausible. Our campaign declined any immediate comment, but asked for additional time to attempt to investigate the allegation raised. In response, it was indicated that the campaign “had time,” suggesting the publication of the report was not imminent.

Despite the late hour, our campaign quickly conferred and confirmed that we had no knowledge whatsoever of any criminal referral involving the Secretary. At 10:36 pm, our staff attempted to reach your reporters on the phone to reiterate this fact and ensure the paper would not be going forward with any such report. There was no answer. At 10:54 pm, our staff again attempted calling. Again, no answer. Minutes later, we received a call back. We sought to confirm that no story was imminent and were shocked at the reply: the story had just published on the Times’ website.

This was, to put it mildly, an egregious breach of the process that should occur when a major newspaper like the Times is pursuing a story of this magnitude. Not only did the Times fail to engage in a proper discussion with the campaign ahead of publication; given the exceedingly short window of time between when the Times received the tip and rushed to publish, it hardly seems possible that the Times conducted sufficient deliberations within its own ranks before going ahead with the story.

Second, in its rush to publish what it clearly viewed as a major scoop, the Times relied on questionable sourcing and went ahead without bothering to seek corroborating evidence that could have supported its allegation.

In our conversations with the Times reporters, it was clear that they had not personally reviewed the IG’s referral that they falsely described as both criminal and focused on Hillary Clinton. Instead, they relied on unnamed sources that characterized the referral as such. However, it is not at all clear that those sources had directly seen the referral, either. This should have represented too many “degrees of separation” for any newspaper to consider it reliable sourcing, least of all The New York Times.

Times’ editors have attempted to explain these errors by claiming the fault for the misreporting resided with a Justice Department official whom other news outlets cited as confirming the Times’ report after the fact. This suggestion does not add up. It is our understanding that this Justice Department official was not the original source of the Times’ tip. Moreover, notwithstanding the official’s inaccurate characterization of the referral as criminal in nature, this official does not appear to have told the Times that Mrs. Clinton was the target of that referral, as the paper falsely reported in its original story.

This raises the question of what other sources the Times may have relied on for its initial report. It clearly was not either of the referring officials – that is, the Inspectors General of either the State Department or intelligence agencies – since the Times’ sources apparently lacked firsthand knowledge of the referral documents. It also seems unlikely the source could have been anyone affiliated with those offices, as it defies logic that anyone so closely involved could have so severely garbled the description of the referral.

Of course, the identity of the Times’ sources would be deserving of far less scrutiny if the underlying information had been confirmed as true. However, the Times appears to have performed little, if any, work to corroborate the accuracy of its sources’ characterizations of the IG’s referral. Key details went uninvestigated in the Times’ race to publish these erroneous allegations against Mrs. Clinton. For instance, high in the Times’ initial story, the reporters acknowledged they had no knowledge of whether or not the documents that the Times claimed were mishandled by Mrs. Clinton contained any classified markings. In Mrs. Clinton’s case, none of the emails at issue were marked. This fact was quickly acknowledged by the IC inspector general’s office within hours of the Times’ report, but it was somehow left unaddressed in the initial story.

Even after the Times’ reporting was revealed to be false, the Times incomprehensibly delayed the issuance of a full and true correction.

Our campaign first sought changes from the Times as soon as the initial story was published. Recognizing the implausibility that Mrs. Clinton herself could be the subject of any criminal probe, we immediately challenged the story’s opening line, which said the referral sought an investigation into Mrs. Clinton specifically for the mishandling of classified materials. In response, the Times’ reporters admitted that they themselves had never seen the IG’s referral, and so acknowledged the possibility that the paper was overstating what it directly knew when it portrayed the potential investigation as centering on Mrs. Clinton. It corrected the lead sentence accordingly.

The speed with which the Times conceded that it could not defend its lead citing Mrs. Clinton as the referral’s target raises questions about what inspired its confidence in the first place to frame the story that way. More importantly, the Times’ change was not denoted in the form of a correction. Rather, it was performed quietly, overnight, without any accompanying note to readers. This was troubling in its lack of transparency and risks causing the Times to appear like it is trying to whitewash its misreporting. A correction should have been posted promptly that night.

Regardless, even after this change, a second error remained in the story: the characterization of the referral as criminal at all. By Friday morning, multiple members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (who had been briefed by the Inspectors General) challenged this portrayal—and ultimately, so did the Department of Justice itself. Only then did the Times finally print a correction acknowledging its misstatement of the nature of the referral to the Justice Department.

Of course, the correction, coming as it did on a Friday afternoon, was destined to reach a fraction of those who read the Times’ original, erroneous report. As the Huffington Post observed:

“…it’s unlikely that the same audience will see the updated version unless the paper were to send out a second breaking news email with its latest revisions. The Clinton story also appeared [on] the front page of Friday’s print edition.”

Most maddening of all, even after the correction fixed the description of the referral within the story, a headline remained on the front page of the Times’ website that read, “Criminal Inquiry is Sought in Clinton Email Account.” It was not until even later in the evening that the word “criminal” was finally dropped from the headline and an updated correction was issued to the story. The lateness of this second correction, however, prevented it from appearing in the paper the following morning. We simply do not understand how that was allowed to occur.

Lastly, the Times’ official explanations for the misreporting is profoundly unsettling.

In a statement to the Times’ public editor, you said that the errors in the Times’ story Thursday night were “unavoidable.” This is hard to accept. As noted above, the Justice Department official that incorrectly confirmed the Times’ initial reports for other outlets does not appear to have been the initial source for the Times. Moreover, it is precisely because some individuals may provide erroneous information that it is important for the Times to sift the good information from the bad, and where there is doubt, insist on additional evidence. The Times was under no obligation to go forward on a story containing such explosive allegations coming only from sources who refused to be named. If nothing else, the Times could have allowed the campaign more time to understand the allegation being engaged. Unfortunately, the Times chose to take none of these steps.

In closing, I wish to emphasize our genuine wish to have a constructive relationship with The New York Times. But we also are extremely troubled by the events that went into this erroneous report, and will be looking forward to discussing our concerns related to this incident so we can have confidence that it is not repeated in the future.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Palmieri
Communications Director
Hillary for America

Cc: Margaret Sullivan,
Public Editor
New York Times

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Why This Is The Most Important Presidential Election Ever

A Guest Essay by our member William:

I guess we’ve heard that before, and said it before, too. But this time it really is the most important election ever. Frankly, I don’t know if this country or planet can survive a Republican president, to go with a Republican-dominated Congress and a right-wing Supreme Court. Maybe thirty years ago we could have survived it, but probably not now. We certainly should never give up; but I don’t even want to think much about what would happen if we were to lose this presidential election, and particularly when we have a truly superb candidate and potential president in Hillary Clinton.

The problem is that the Republicans are beyond redemption. There aren’t any Nelson Rockefellers or even Gerald Fords out there now. Every one of the Republican candidates, and indeed 99% of the Republicans in the Congress or the state legislatures, is wrong on virtually every issue, all the time. There is no redeeming quality in their politics. Their rigid and unnuanced views are like a religion to them. They want to cut the tax rates for millionaires, and make up the lost revenues by shredding the safety net. They want to destroy all labor unions, so that we are back to 1870 or so, when people had to work 18-hour days in horrible conditions, so that twenty or so people could become billionaires and live in Versailles-like palaces, and buy a bunch of faberge eggs. They want to remove even the very limited environmental protections we have, so that we can return to the era where companies could cut down trees, strip mine the land to death, pollute the water and contaminate the food, all with impunity. They want there to be no restrictions whatsover on any kind of gun purchases. They want to end the right to abortion, and access to birth control as well. And this is all of the Republicans, at least 99% of them on each of these issues.

Let me tell you what I know many of you already know, or maybe are trying hard not to think about, because it is so frightening. If the Republicans win the White House this time, I doubt that the country can recover from it. I never have thought that before. I went through Nixon and Reagan and both Bushes; and though I was very upset when we lost those elections, I thought that we would get through those regimes; that people would react to them and then elect better people. And though it didn’t always happen right away, it usually turned around. But this time, I am not sure. And I know that our planet cannot afford to take this chance.

So here are the reasons why I think that this election is the most important one ever. And here are the issues which highlight it.

1. Global warming.

Some days I feel compelled to read the statistics and the scientific findings. Some days I find it too depressing to do so. Let’s just say that it is absolutely imperative that we try to do something about global warming now. We cannot wait even another year.

Hillary Clinton will do something about it. I am sure of that. She is aware of the magnitude of this problem. I saw Bill Clinton make a speech at Georgetown University not that long ago where he talked about “one last chance” to do something significant to curtail global warming. The Clintons will not let this chance go by. Now, obviously, Hillary would have to deal with that more than recalcitrant Congress, but that is why it is so crucial that she manage to pull in some legislators with her by winning handily. We need both Hillary to win, and for the Congress to be much more favorable. A large task, but it is not impossible. I personally think that if Hillary actually made global warming and climate control the centerpiece of her campaign, it would work, because I think that most people are now pretty well aware of it, and just need some leadership. The Republicans’ position on this issue is essentially nothing. They cannot even pretend to want to do something, because they would upset their oil billionaire masters. So they would look like idiots in any debate which focused on this. I would pound away at this issue. I am not sure that Clinton will do so, but I wish she would; because it is a winning issue, and because it dwarfs every other issue.

2. The Supreme Court

Conservatives have controlled the Supreme Court for about 25 years now. Calling them “conservatives’ is actually being generous; because what they are is right-wing corporatists who were carefully selected by Republicans to think exactly the way they want them to; to never grow or evolve as jurists, just to decide cases in the same way that the Republican legislators vote on every single bill.

This was actually the master plan of the right-wing think tanks; and I would not be surprised if the “Citizens United” decision was what they had in mind all along. As long as Citizens United remains law, there will be no stopping the radical right billionaires from trying to take over our entire political system, lock stock and barrel. There has been some talk about trying to pass a constitutional amendment to invalidate that decision, but in my opinion that is virtually impossible, given the number of deep red states which would never vote for such a referendum; and you need three-quarters of state legislatures to do so

The only way to end Citizens United is to have a different Supreme Court revisit and essentially overturn it. And that very well could happen if we can win the White House. All we need is for one of those right-wing Justices to retire. If Hillary Clinton can win two terms, I would be pretty confident that it would happen. The Republicans are well aware of this, too. They think that they own the Supreme Court. They have turned it into a politicized branch of government which has lost most people’s respect. They will do everything they can do–and it is a good deal– to try to defeat Hillary Clinton in this election. And we cannot let them do it.

3. The Safety Net

Jeb Bush didn’t even try to hide it. The other day he said that Medicare would have to be phrased out. Why? Well, because the Republicans have to pay for their tax cuts for billionaires. More importantly, because they are committed to rolling back all the progress made by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and returning us to the Gilded Age. They do not want people to get Social Security benefits, or Medicare. They want them to starve or get sick on the streets, and then have the courtesy to do so out of the range of the rich people who do not want to have to step over them on their way to fancy restaurants. And that, as overstated as the major media might think it sounds, is actually exactly what the Republicans want to do, and plan to do. Watch them, if they get control of the executive branch.

Hillary Clinton would of course protect Social Security and Medicare. She would not “put it on the table” as Obama kept indicating he would do. Those crucial protections for retirees and the elderly would remain in place, and would undoubtedly be strengthened under a Clinton regime.

4. Workers’ Rights

Again, the Republican goal is to return to the time when there were no labor unions; and company bosses could hire police officers to shoot would-be organizers or strikers in the back; or hire Pinkertons to break the heads of labor agitators, and sheriffs to throw them into jail. Labor unions are the only threat to management being able to pay as little as possible to employees, provide no benefits and no safety standards. So why not get rid of them? They are trying to do it in Wisconsin, and in many other states where this would have seemed anathema twenty years ago. Who is going to stop them? A Democratic President would. And Hillary Clinton has always been supportive of the rights of workers.

5. Abortion

The Republican goal is to make abortion illegal, the way it was before the pesky liberal Warren Court made it legal 42 years ago. They are making headway at the state level. All they need is a somewhat more conservative Supreme Court, and they can probably overturn Roe vs. Wade, or at least make it a state by state issue, and then try to get the state legislatures to make it illegal in as many states as possible, if not all of them.

6. Various other environmental issues

The party which always puts the wealth of industralists above the protection of the environment, has all sorts of plans to build more pipelines, to allow fracking everywhere; to drill offshore on both coasts and in any preserve. Again, just give them a president to not veto such bills, and they will take care of the rest.

Hillary Clinton has always been very pro-enviroment, and I am completely confident that a Clinton Administration would do more to protect the land, the wildlife and the waterways, than any administration has in quite a while. We have this one little planet to survive on; and a political party which doesn’t care an iota about protecting and saving it, is beyond evil, in my view; and it is imperative that they not gain absolute power. The Republican party which sometimes used to have conservationists in their midst, is long gone. In their place are wealth-obsessed millionaires who were put into office by the black money of oil barons, and who do not have the intelligence or the bravery to go against them on anything.

There are many other issues, of course. Again, this is not the Republican party of the 1960’s. This is a band of extreme right-wing doctrinaire nutcases, many of whom do not have the slightest understanding of history, economics, government, or anything else. They are the ones who were cheerfully talking about not voting to increase the debt ceiling, so that the government would default; something that would have caused an economic cataclysm. Fifth graders have a more realistic understanding of how government and economics work, than do most of these people. They don’t have even a rudimentary grasp of science eiither, as witnessed by various comments Republican candidates made in the last two election cycles. They don’t believe in global warming; they don’t believe in evolution; they don’t want to hear about medicine, botany or biology. They believe what they believe, and they ignore the rest. There were always such people, but they were usually confined to a few states, and had no power. Now they populate the halls of congress. And all their presidential candidates are like that as well. It is as scary as any science fiction movie I have ever seen.

But they can be defeated–if enough people are helped to realize what is at stake; and how different Democratic ideas are from Republicans’. And if people actually take the time to listen to what Hillary Clinton says about these crucial issues, as compared to what the Republicans say. And if voters do not let the media try to turn this election away from real issues, and toward their own little game of trying to invent personal issues or “controversies,” to make the campaign look like some kind of superficially entertaining TV “reality show.”

All of us have to do our part. Whether it is sending money; or walking precincts; making phone calls; writing essays; participating in blogs–whatever best befits people’s skills and inclinations. We just all have to do something. There is no room for waiting to complain after the fact. This really is the most important American election ever, and it is one that we and Hillary Clinton have to win.

Calling All Democrats

This is the first, of what I hope will be many posts, by one of our members, William.

Calling All Democrats
By William

I am a Democrat. It is certainly not that I agree with everything every Democratic officeholder says and does. I never have. But we have two major political parties in this country. For all intents and purposes, we have a two-party system. This is not going to be changing. Either the Democrats win, or the Republicans win. Sometimes, as in the 2000 Presidential election, some very foolish Democrats get the idea to cast a vote for an outlier like Ralph Nader, and thus allow the Republicans to win an election that they could not have otherwise won. It is a zero-sum game in this country’s political process, and an intelligent person will realize it, even if he or she might wish it were otherwise.

My parents were lifelong Democrats, and we were all proud of being so. We would watch the Democratic conventions together. Of course, there were some Democrats we liked much more than others. Back then, there were actually some decent Republicans. There are virtually no decent Republicans holding major office now. The Republican Party has completely turned into what years ago used to be considered the fringe wing of that party. They are all John Birch Society types now. It would be funny if it weren’t so horrifying. They all say the same things. They all vote in lockstep. They try to destroy the legislative chances of any Democratic President by filibustering every single significant bill; by holding up virtually all judiciary appointees. It has appeared to many of us that the Republicans would rather have the economy completely fall apart, rather than compromise on anything. They are far more about winning their battles than in accomplishing anything. Of course, when you believe in total laissez-faire economics, you may not want to accomplish anything legislatively: pass no regulations; let the “markets” work their own mischief.

It is to the point that we cannot allow any Republican to win the Presidency. One figures that they will have to at some point, and that could be ruinous. Their policies are so extreme that they might destroy us. Seeing what some governors like Scott Walker have attempted, in a formerly liberal state like Wisconsin, should terrify people. He has tried to destroy labor unions in his state. He is engaged in attempting to remove every single bit of environmental legislation. How he gets away with this is almost beyond comprehension. It must be that people don’t listen, don’t follow, or somehow believe the inane platitudes that all of this will help them get jobs, or win some kind of culture war. Get someone like that, or Jeb Bush, who ran Florida almost fascistically, according to a long article in a major magazine years ago, and heaven help us all.

Now, as I went along through college and grad school, and various arenas where i would encounter presumably intelligent and educated people, I met many who, when I said I was a Democrat, would tell me that they were independent. They would say it rather superciliously, as if they were claiming to have reached a higher plateau of personal development. “I vote for the man, not the party,” some of them would say; as if this showed that they were discerning, as opposed to someone who identified himself as a Democrat. Of course, they were arrogantly nonsensical. If you can show me a Republican on the national scene whom you would actually want to vote for over a Democrat, I would say that you are not too interested in actual issues and their implications. I don’t like all of the Democrats, personally or politically. But I darn well know that the Democrats are far better for this country, so I vote for them. Maybe in two hundred years, the Republican party will come to its senses, and then we can vote for a few of them. I’m not holding my breath.

The reality is that the Republicans play the political game better than the Democrats, for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, they don’t win the presidency all the time. But they are now in firm control of both houses of Congress. They control most of the state legislatures, some of which are denuded of Democrats. They have controlled the Supreme Court for about 25 years. The Democratic party is not that far away from being reduced to a permanent minority party, at least on the state and congressional level. As long as the Citizens United decision stands (and it would take a much different Supreme Court to overturn it; the chances of three-quarters of the states ratifying a constitutional amendement against it are essentially zero), it is a perfect circular game for them. Billions of dollars from corporate polluters and ravagers wins elections; the elected serve their corporate masters who make even more billions, which is poured into more elections. And the media, also corporate owned, of course, become ever more supportive of the radical right billionaires, insuring even more election victories. It is a dire situation; not unchangeable, but in increasing danger of becoming so.

So that brings us to Hillary Clinton, apparently the only remaining major Democratic force who both cares about the future of the Democratic Party, and has plans to make it viable in the long term. The current President, for whatever reasons, has been running away from the Democratic Party for eight years. And so, not surprisingly, he has been less than valueless in midterm elections, where apparently the norm now is that we lose 50-60 congressional seats, at least five Senate seats, and a few more state legislatures. Other than saying “we got shellacked,” he does not seem to have much concern about this, or any idea of how to do anything about it. And no one else but Hillary Clinton seems to, either.

Guess what? You cannot effectively run a country as President if the Congress is overwhelmingly against you, and uses every technique to thwart every bill and appointee. This is not some fantasy TV series or movie; this is political reality. Americans have for too long entertained this fantasy of the “outsider,” the brave man or woman who comes to Washington and changes everything through the force of his magnetism. I would think that the last eight years would have shown the utter folly of that concept, but apparently not. Maybe some people are so inherently bitter or contemptuous that they have given up all hope of fixing or even helping things; they just want to waste their time on tearing people down, and lamenting how rigged eveything is, and how it really doesn’t matter, anyway. Well, I think it matters; and I am totally sick of the people who self-indulgently try to get winnable Democrats defeated, or who keep playing their childish game of looking for some projective comic book hero to save us all.

Now consider the overwhelmingly positive attributes of Hillary Clinton. Not only is she a solid old-time New Deal Democrat, she also has the will and the competency to get things done. Of course she is not perfect; no one outside of a TV show character could be. But she is very smart, very dedicated; and any reasonable Democrat would have to agree with her stands on at least 95% of the issues. But even putting all of that aside for just the purposes of this essay, she actually cares about the Democratic Party. In a recent speech in Iowa, she said the following: She wants to communicate “the importance of midterms, strengthen state parties, and spend the next 10 years building a deep bench of young people” in the Democratic Party, who “will not just complain” about problems, but will get into politics and fix them.

She said, “Here’s one of the differences between our party and the other party: They know the importance of midterm elections. Because they show up and we don’t.” She further said, I am going to be the kind of President who will keep talking to the American people about the importance of showing up in the midterm elections. Otherwise, we will go backward.”

Well, this seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Except that when is the last time you heard something like this from a Democrat? Have you not seen public figure after public figure shrink from being too closely identified with the party?Have you seen any major Democrat talk about “the other side,” as if being a Democrat mattered? Have you heard anyone talk about the need to defeat the Republican candidates and agenda; that to actually do anything significant; to save this country, the Republicans have to be defeated, the way they regularly are defeating the Democrats every midterm election?

She may not be able to accomplish it, but she is really going to try. And who else is left to try? Bernie Sanders, who doesn’t even identify himself as a Democrat; who to my knowlege has never campaigned outside his state for any Democratic candidate? That should not even be worthy of consideration. If Sanders somehow got the nomination, he would win about seven states, and the Democrats would end up with about 120 seats in the House, 40 or so in the Senate; and the Supreme Court would be ultraconservative for another 30 years at least, because three or so Justices would retire, and be replaced by young corporatist right-wing radicals. On the other hand, if Hillary Clinton is elected President, she will not only be able to change the Supreme Court balance, but she is going to work to actually strengthen the Democratic Party at the statewide level, so that it somehow might be able to battle the Republican money machine on even terms. She is not going to concede the country to the evil forces, she is going to try to defeat them. And yet some people cavil and hesitate about supporting her for President? This is about the equivalent of being out in the desert, and trying to find reasons not to drink the bottle of cool, pure water you are being offered, because you think you might somehow find another one of a better brand somewhere out there in the mirage. If you are a real Democrat, and not just a professional carper, the choice to support Hillary Clinton in this campaign is as clear as you are ever going to get in any election. How about us Democrats taking advantage of it, for just once?

On This Day, Let Us Not Forget General Washington and CPL William

A worthy rerun:

On July 3rd, the day before America’s birthday, our own Freedom Fairy posted the above header of George Washington crossing the Delaware. Lo and Behold, there was our own Moderator Kitteh Bill on that boat, right there in the arms of The Man Himself! Father of our country! Kitteh of our country!

Bill! we gasped! It’s Bill! How did Bill get there! Look, Bill was There! Bill fought for our country! Bill knew George, and I don’t mean Bush! The Real George! And how Dapper he was on that boat! Our Bill, Kitteh of our Country!

After our initial excitement at seeing our own Bill in that portrait, we were a bit flummoxed, of course. I mean, Bill would have to be seriously old in the triple digits if that was him. Not that Bill isn’t capable of just about anything, as you who have been spammed deliberately can attest. But, I mean, even the best of us have only seen our cats hit the early 20s. We knew Bill was special, but come on!

To the rescue, our own blog historian, the immortal and inimitable Revolutionary War Vet, who has been simply Everywhere, clarified the portrait for us:

Happy Fourth of July weekend to all the citizens of Uppityville!

Now, since I was actually on that boat when we crossed the Delaware on that cold, blustery Christmas night in 1776, please allow me to clarify…

See, it was in fact one of MK Bill’s ancestors who made the trip with us. He shared the same name, but the Continental Army knew him by the more proper, William. He carried the rank of Sergeant, and was assigned to the Quartermaster Department. There really wasn’t anything to the job, since we never had much food to eat. But Sergeant William always did his best for us. Once, he even offered to share with me a scrawny mouse he had caught, but I decided against it, and ate my left shoe instead. Anyway, we all loved Sergeant William.

Now, that night, General Washington was very reluctant to permit Sergeant William to make the crossing. But, at the last moment, as the boat was shoving off, William jumped aboard and into the arms of the General. What could Washington do? So, he just tucked William tight, as we rowed and poled our way to the Jersey shore.

We were headed for Trenton, of course. Where the Hessians had about 1000 men posted in the town.

Well, after a long march with bloody feet (and paws), we finally made it to Trenton. We attacked just after daylight. All was confusion, as we stormed into the streets from every direction. Sergeant William headed straight for the Commander’s headquarters. Truth be told, since he knew full well that the officers always ate better than enlisted men, William thought he might find some tasty leftovers there. He was always a sucker for German food, particularly Wiener Schnitzel.

Now, just as William made his way into the headquarters, Colonel Rall, the Hessian Commander, was stumbling out of bed, trying to get his uniform on, sensing that the cannon fire outside his window meant a surprise attack was well underway. And it was here that Sergeant William performed the heroic act that we all remembered him for afterward.

William bit into the ankle of Colonel Rall. Hard. There was blood.

So disoriented was Colonel Rall that, by the time he reached the street, half-dressed with bleeding leg, he never saw the Patriot soldier that fired the bullet that left him fatally wounded. And, seeing their Commanding officer shot down, the rest of the Hessians quickly surrendered. It was a glorious victory! And for his part…

General George Washington himself honored Sergeant William with a medal:

The Order of the Catnip.

It was, to my knowledge, the first and only time that decoration was bestowed.

Well, after the War, I lost touch with Sergeant William. But I heard that he met a sassy Long Island feline named Katrina, who most people called Kittie. (But, for some reason, she always preferred to spell it, Kitteh.) So, William and Kittie settled on a farm in the Hudson Valley of Upstate New York, and lived a long and very quiet and serene life; while proceeding to give birth to many healthy litters, the present living descendant of which is – our very own MK Bill!

Just thought I’d set the record straight. ;)

Dear Vet!!!! What a beautiful and historic account of our Bill’s notable ancestor!! We are so fortunate to have you as blog Historian, particularly with regard to the presence of our own Bill’s forefathers at so many of our most important and/or historic moments in time!

The Order of The Catnip! This honor certainly explains MK Bill’s entitlement attitude with respect to paypal donations being  snatched and used for the Ordering of the Catnip.

This account most definitely clarifies our Bill’s staunch and loyal patriotism and only serves to confirm what a fine president he would make, especially when we consider his inherited prowess at capturing and dispositioning rodents, of which there are so many in DC.

I am convinced now, more than ever, that MK Bill must pursue his Presidential bid with vigor just as soon as he wakes up from his nap. Even though Bill is actually a Clinton Democrat, there is no sense of him bothering with a Primary with that current bunch, as Bill just remarked the other day that the New Democratic Party is seriously Shovel Ready. Instead, I am going to suggest that, being a cat and therefore having multiple wives, he should consider posing as a Mormon. So long as he doesn’t reveal his intentions to provide free CAT Scans as part of his health plan, I am sure this will be enough to convince the Republicans to give him a nod. Besides, he’s exponentially more interesting than the creatures they have as candidates to-date.

Vet, thank you for renewing my faith in Bill’s love of Country, as I do admit I was losing patience with him, what with his constant use of my charge card to investigate the Playcat Channel and the Live Nude Cats website. Now I understand that these are just the necessary diversions of a very patriotic cat who, like Newt Gingrich, is so patriotic, he sometimes ..…strays, and who, of course, aspires to fill Anthony Weiner’s seat, if not his shorts.

Trenton will never look the same to me again, and believe me, it never did look like much to me. Who knew?

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