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Archive for February, 2008

Now, children

Posted by pocochina on February 27, 2008

The funny thing about debates at this point, is that the candidates aren’t really talking to the people we all think they’re talking to. Generally, political spectacles about this are thought to be for the press. And the press is part of it, and its lunatic drones many members certainly benefit, but it ain’t about them.

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anger and serious commentary

Posted by pocochina on February 26, 2008

Dear idiots who believed the fucking Drudge Report:

You are still idiots.

Oh, Jesus Mary and Joseph. It’s not like it’s this is even the first time a right-wing media outlet has accused Senator Clinton of doing their dirty work for them.
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Posted by pocochina on February 22, 2008


“She was just the First Lady!” “She got where she is because of Bill!” or my fucking favorite “I’d vote for a woman, she’s just so ambitious.”

I fucking swear to God, I will lose it.

First Ladies are not all the same. Even what with their matching girl parts and EVERYTHING! I KNOW! When Hillary Rodham Clinton was the First Lady of the US, she very well could have just had tea parties, but she did not. She was a senior counselor to and a domestic and international representative of the President of the United States. If you’re going to denigrate that. using language dismissive of her based on the fact that they are married, without denigrating women you had better FUCKING STRETCH FIRST BECAUSE YOU CAN’T DO IT. This bullshit needs to die and it needs to FUCKING DIE NOW.

While we are at it, the reason we don’t recognize the work of First Ladies is because they are women. Eleanor Roosevelt and Edith Wilson, for example, were important people in our nation’s history. You know why we don’t care? Because they were women. To not just ignore that FUCKED-UP reality, but to actively participate in the perpetuation of it, IS SEXIST AND STUPID, AND IF YOU DO IT, YOU ARE SEXIST AND STUPID. End of sentence. Or, as the Democratic Party’s most prominent sexist would say, period.

She is a sitting Senator, who has not just been elected but re-elected with significant majorities in areas generally hostile to her political philosophy, she is a brilliant legislator, and she worked in the White House for eight years. Show some fucking respect.

ETA: Abigail Adams, remembered through her letters, in which she implored her husband to “remember the Ladies.”

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Hello world!

Posted by pocochina on February 15, 2008

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

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Fucking MoveOn

Posted by pocochina on February 14, 2008

I’m checking my email today and I got this from MoveOn (bold emphasis mine, and footnotes omitted, but it is properly cited)

Dear [Pocochina],
You’ve probably heard about the “superdelegates” who could end up deciding the Democratic nominee.1

The superdelegates are under lots of pressure right now to come out for one candidate or the other.2 We urgently need to encourage them to let the voters decide between Clinton and Obama—and then to support the will of the people.
[link to petition]
If we can reach 200,000 signatures this week, we’ll publish the petition along with the final number of signers as an ad in USA Today. If you’re one of the first people to sign, we’ll include your name (with your permission).

The petition says:

“The Democratic Party must be democratic. The superdelegates should let the voters decide between Clinton and Obama, then support the people’s choice.”

Please forward this email to 5 friends today so we can hit 200,000 signatures by Friday.

Who are the superdelegates? Most of them aren’t elected—they’re state party chairs, retired politicians, and Democratic insiders. They control 40% of the votes needed to win the nomination.3 [Ed: It’s technically true, but misleading, as superdelegates compose 20% of the total votes at the convention. For the 40% to be true, they all have to vote for the same candidate.] The reason they exist: to make sure the party establishment approves of the nominee.


The superdelegates could ignore the will of the voters and pick whichever nominee they want, embroiling the entire convention in an ugly fight.6

Superdelegates aren’t used to hearing from concerned voters. If enough of us sign this petition, we can urge them to side with whichever candidate—Clinton or Obama—has the most support from voters.

This is about democracy, pure and simple. Whoever you support, we can all agree the Democratic nominee should be decided by Democratic voters. ……
In the long run, the Democratic Party needs to reconsider this undemocratic system, but for this election, we need the superdelegates to do the right thing.
Thank you for all you do.
P.S. Our friends at Democracy for America have launched a similar petition they’re going to deliver directly to the superdelegates. You can sign that one [link].

First of all, the ethics of clamoring for democracy and then asking the exact same people to sign two patently alike petitions are questionable. (I’m not saying they can’t or it’s illegal, but if you’re going to claim the high ground by bringing the Power of the People to the Political Elite, you shouldn’t be trying to count the same people twice strictly for intimidation.) But mostly, I’m irritated about the call for democracy criticizing only one of the frustratingly undemocratic processes in this whole nomination process – or, for that matter, the entire electoral process. I don’t like the superdelegate idea either, to be honest. They’re a way to insulate politicians from the fickle whims of democracy. (Shark-Fu said it better than I will, so I highly recommend her excellent critique.)

But why stop there? I don’t like the electoral college, I don’t like caucuses, I don’t like that Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have more say than the rest of us, and I really don’t like the fact that Michigan and Florida voters were totally disenfranchised in order to preserve the already-undemocratic power wielded by the earliest states. These are all things that assist the establishment too. And not just the Democratic party establishment, but the mainstream media news establishment that can literally spend 24 hours a day debating “front runner” status, and making thoroughly indefensible comments about any or all of the candidates. Open primaries, where anyone not even registered as a Democrat can show up and vote, aren’t exactly conducive to a “Democratic nominee….chosen by Democratic voters.” I understand that there’s great reasons for belonging to a third party, or no political party at all, but as someone who registered as a Democrat the first instant I could, I’m quite uncomfortable with the idea that Republicans may have a voice in choosing my nominee, as I don’t want my party dragged to the center. And it’s tough enough being a Democrat in a red state, it’s got to hurt to have less say in the nominating process, too. The only way to have a truly democratic nominating process would be to use public funding for elections, from declaration of candidacy to election of the official, and have one national primary where the popular vote is the only thing that matters. We can’t unring the bell, though, we’re well into this nomination process.

Even if we could fix the superdelegate issue this cycle, how should it be resolved in this election? The superdelegates are allocated by state; should they have to rely on the popular vote in state? This would lead to a wash in a lot of cases – the senators from Washington, who have both endorsed HRC, would simply continue to cancel out the vote of the senators from Massachusetts, who have both endorsed Senator Obama. (A Slogger crunched the math and found that Senator Clinton would still carry more superdelegates, though that’s pre-Potomac primaries and NM victory, because the states she’s won are Democratic strongholds with tons of superdelegates.) Should it be winner-take-all, or proportional representation? Should they all just abstain? Even if they decide they should change their votes, is that ethical? They’ve pledged to support this candidate, after all, because they do believe that their candidate is the best suited to lead the country, and the entire campaign thus far has operated under the premises that these superdelegates count. What if we end up with a Nevada situation, where one candidate gets more raw total votes, but the other can or does get more delegates?  (And doesn’t that sound familiar?)  What about the superdelegates from MI and FL?  They’re still there, you know, sitting members of Congress are superdelegates, and if the DNC holds its hard line on those voters, those representatives will be the only representation the voters of MI and FL have at the convention.

It’s not against the rules for the superdelegates to change their minds, and voters are of course within our rights to try to get our representative superdelegates to vote our way, but for a group of self-described progressives to espouse the hyperbolic language in the MoveOn petition, while failing to put forth a peep about the other counterdemocratic tendencies of the entire nominating process, rings hollow. I’ve been a member of MoveOn since 2004, and I’ve long defended their tactics even when I wasn’t sure I agreed, but this strikes me as a cold effort to take advantage of an undemocratic system to help their candidate. It’s bloody-minded circular reasoning: we don’t like vicious party politics with unfair rules, so we want to use party politics to change the totally unfair rules in the middle of the game. Which is – y’all saw this coming – also totally unfair.

Another important thing to remember is that the superdelegates are powerful because this election is close.  Roughly half of Democratic voters prefer Senator Clinton, and roughly half prefer Obama.  The vast majority of us like both.  There’s no true Solomonic way to split this fairly.

So I’m fuming about this to begin with, when my mind catches on that word “establishment.”

Establishment. Now if there’s a criticism of Senator that’s been echoing in the Progressive Online World, there’s the one. The problem is, there’s no way the superdelegates could, by themselves, choose an “establishment” candidate over a “non-establishment” candidate.  As the petition says, they have 40% of the votes necessary for the nomination – if The People had called for Kucinich, Kucinich we would have.  Senators Clinton and Obama are sitting Democratic senators, with solid center-left voting records, both of whom have spirited endorsements from Democratic powerhouses. The superdelegates – those scary establishment types – have split themselves between the two candidates, and they include the most established members of the party as well as quite a few nutty outliers. I want a Democratic nominee who represents the Democratic party – it’s kind of what the framers had in mind. “Establishment” is a way of smacking at Senator Clinton by insinuating she’s old, or corrupt, or yet another coded way of saying “I just don’t like her.” The system is open for critique, but to insinuate that Senator Clinton is stealing the election because she’s playing the game that was introduced in 1980 is a transparent attempt to force her to shoulder the blame for all of our frustration with the entire electoral system.

I sound like I’m defending the superdelegate system right now.  I’m not.  I think it sucks.  But if we’re going to fix it, we’ve got to do it right.  Democracy is messy. Democracy means we get to suck up the outcome of stupid decisions sometimes. And right now, we’re dealing with a less-than-democratic system calling itself a democracy. But to critique it, we’ve got to be intellectually honest. We’ve actually got to be thinking about our party and about our democracy.

ETA: Digby says it much, much better.

ETA: What about calling a mulligan? It’s not as easy as it sounds.

ETA: Let the people decide, indeed.

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Very Serious Political Thought of the Evening

Posted by pocochina on February 10, 2008

The arcane and questionably democratic practice of privileging Iowa, NH, and SC, and therefore of disenfranchising voters who live in states which try to change the status quo, is totally fair and must not be questioned.

The arcane and questionably democratic practice of caucusing, which makes voting particularly difficult for people who are older, have children to care for, or who are working class, is totally fair and must not be questioned.

The arcane and questionably democratic practice of granting votes to superdelegates, however, is STEALING THE ELECTION OMG.*

In no way is anyone’s judgment of the relative democratic merits of any of these practices influenced by the fact that caucuses and delegate-stripping benefit Barack Obama, while counting the superdelegates benefits Hillary Clinton.  Repeat, there is NO CONNECTION, and those who allege there is, are simply against HOPE and are probably partisan Washington politicians.  Who eat babies.  Obviously.

*ETA:  Apparently, even if superdelegates were forced to vote the same way their states voted, based on pre-Potomac counts, Hillary still wins.  So it looks like the Will of the People isn’t being subverted in her favor at all.

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“you’re GWB!” “no, YOU’RE GWB!”

Posted by pocochina on February 5, 2008

I almost left this comment at Feministe, in response to this article but I was too fucking annoyed and I really, really don’t like being impolite on someone else’s space.  I am sure I’ll get over that soon, but it’s Super Tuesday and I’m revved, so I’m leaving it here.

I’m actually kind of sorry I read this.  I don’t like the “you’re GWB!”  “No, YOU’RE GWB!”  tone of it.

Yes, I am a HRC supporter.  No, it is not because I think it is the One True Feminist Way.  Because I like her.  Some of us actually do like her.  Just like I trust that feminists can support Obama, I expect other feminists to be able to trust that progressives can like HRC.  And the refusal to believe that’s possible – that we could like her for ANY OTHER REASON THAN HER VAGINA – is, quite frankly, baffling.  And their feminism is better than mine, nyah nyah nyah, I get it.

Particularly being 23, highly educated, and idealistic myself – OMG WHO DO I VOTE FOR?

I bend over backwards – and so does EVERY OTHER CLINTON SUPPORTER I KNOW – to say that yes, Obama is a good candidate, no, I don’t think it’s anti-feminist to vote for him.  (I do personally tend to question the eagerness to overlook the fact that he’s knowingly capitalized on overt misogyny for his entire campaign, but whatev, I accept everyone has a different bottom line, it’s good and keeps us thinking about different things.)   But pretending he’s some huge progressive messiah is not a fact-based assertion, it’s crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.  Which is fine, but don’t pretend you’re fucking superior.  And don’t pretend a vote for Clinton is selling out progressive ideals, but a vote for Obama isn’t.  They’re both moderate-to-liberal Democrats.  Hillary’s best on my issues (health care, repro rights, showing up to vote) but I accept it’s not the same for everyone.  Cool.  But acting like either of them are anything other than cool-headed centrists on military and foreign policy issues is flat-out ridiculous.  She isn’t planning to bomb Mecca while Obama is all trying to hold hands and sing camp songs with Musharraf.  We don’t know how he’d have voted on Iraq.  Give me a friggin’ break.  He wasn’t in the Senate.  It was a lot more comfortable for us off Capitol Hill to decide we couldn’t trust the CIA and fucking Secretary of State – and I was down on the National Mall in 2003 protesting the war before it was cool, y’all – she crossed her fingers and hoped for the best, hoped and believed she could trust her country.  Good God.  Funding the war?  Same votes in the last four years.  And….well that’s all we really, truly have to compare them on.

Again, I accept and truly understand that that’s too big a sin for some people.  I get it, and I’m okay with it, and I’m glad people are angry about the war, I am too.  But trying to paint HRC as this psycho neoconservative warmonger and Obama as some peacenik hippie to the left of Willie friggin’ Nelson is wrongheaded and reeks of projection.  We want a true progressive candidate, so he is one?  Give me a break.

Racism and sexism are huge, frightening problems in this country.  One isn’t any worse than the other.   I am saying that because I fucking believe it.  And the candidates are not all that different.  So I’m stepping back, as far as I can from the sordid accusations of the last 15 months, and prioritizing my issues.  I trust that you can do the same, even if we don’t necessarily agree.  Because none of us is GWB, none of us are warmongers, and all of us are feminists.

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law students say the darndest things

Posted by pocochina on February 4, 2008

In a case where a couple having an extramarital affair signed a contract and one breached:

“Once he signed it, she probably shut up, and that’s a benefit!”*


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on divisiveness

Posted by pocochina on February 3, 2008

Or, why I’ll pass on our alleged generational crush on Senator Obama.

First of all, make no mistake about it – every reference to “divisiveness” (see also dirty Washington politics, unity, and bipartisanship) is not an attempt to hammer home a coherent political philosophy.  It’s a smack at HRC.  “But Pocochina,” I can hear you asking, “you think politics is hardball!  You LOVE that politics is hardball!”

Yes, and yes.  What I’m talking about, though, is some very sophisticated victim-blaming.  Does anyone think (yes, I realize that with “think” I’m leaving out a significant block of voters, known colloquially as “social conservatives,” but I’ll get to them in a moment) for a friggin’ second that Hillary Clinton woke up one day and said “I want to be divisive!  I want to be hated, lied about, called the most foul words that we as a society use, and I want it to happen every day, in front of the international press!  I want to spend the rest of my career apologizing for the most humiliating months of my life.  I’d especially love it if prominent conservatives would score points with the press by saying horrible things about my child.*  I think that will be good for me, good for my agenda and party, and especially good for the country!”  Though there are people who will argue, of course, that this is all a MASTER PLAN, orchestrated by HRC herself (or for bonus sexism points, Bill, so he can get back in the presidency through his wife), most people would see that such a supposition is crap.  So when Obama and his Adoring Fans cite Hillary’s alleged divisiveness as a reason to vote for him and not her, they are actively suggesting that we allow the Republicans to select our candidate, because they are loud and angry and scary.  Bad people did something to someone, so to make the bad people happy, punish the person they did it to, and then we will all – what?  Make s’mores together?  I don’t think so.  And if you couldn’t care less about feminism (though I can’t imagine why you’d be on my journal if that were the case) think about how that philosophy could apply to foreign policy.  Yeah.  That’s what I thought.  I’m as much of a proponent of diplomacy as anyone, but it doesn’t work unless you’ve got brass freaking Thatchers** behind it.

It doesn’t take a genius*** to figure out that much of the frothing hatred of HRC is not from her policies, but from overt misogyny.  I am not suggesting that everyone who will not vote for Senator Clinton is a woman-hating lunatic – I have no issue with people who actively disagree with her policies.  Sometimes I do actively disagree with her policies myself.  What I am suggesting is that much of that hatred has roots in misogyny, that she has been an easy Democrat to target simply because she is a woman and a feminist.  I am disturbed by the RAGING HATRED of HRC from some progressives, particularly progressive men.  You need not praise HRC or criticize Senator Obama to invoke a barrage of Hillary-hate; you need only suggest that you do not automatically DESPISE EVERYTHING SHE DOES.  So the expectation that I will OMG HATE HER SO MUCH, without any sort of examination of my motives therefore, is telling to say the least.

So it’s victim-blaming.  Hillary’s doing fine, she doesn’t need my sympathy, but it’s my bottom freaking line.  You don’t do it and expect my vote.

But even if I didn’t have such a visceral response to the tenor of his criticism of HRC specifically, I would still think it was bad politics.  Bipartisanship isn’t an end in and of itself.  It’s a tool – a useful one, mind – that you use when you need it.  Bipartisanship brought us the AUMF, and Guantanamo, and CJ Roberts and AJ Alito, and FISA.  Again, I’m not alleging that Senator Obama supports any or all of those things.  I am pointing out a flaw in this mythical, magical goal of “bringing the country together.”  Working with people is only good when you get something good done.  Chasing “unity” does nothing but drag the agenda to the right, to the right, ever to the right, and as the Great Beyonce anthem tells us, that is the wrong direction.  It allows the right wing to determine the terms of the debate.  How’s that working out for us so far, hm?

But.  Even accepting arguendo that alleged divisiveness is a valid criticism of HRC, and accepting that so-called bipartisanship is a good thing?  It’s still going to be a moot point the day after the convention.  Al Gore was divisive by the time the right wing was through with him.  John Kerry is a war hero, for God’s sake, how did his so-called electability work out for the party?  There is a well-funded minority of the GOP that’s going to FUCKING HATE all Democrats, and indeed, everyone to the left of the Kaiser.  It’s time to stop banging our heads against the wall, chasing their support.  It’s time to stop assuming that everyone in the country is reasonable.  Most of us are, but some people are not, and reasonable people seem to be easily misled in election years.  So let’s go with someone who has learned from long, hard experience where to draw the line.

Vote for Hillary.

*Memo to the world:  John McCain is a fucking douchebag.  Sexism and homophobia are hysterical on their own, but when you use them together to go after a defenseless kid?  That’s comedy!  I wonder if the Straight Talk Express has a two-drink minimum.

**For the uninitiated, “lady-balls.”  Stephen Colbert = True Feminist.  And Teh Handsome.

***ETA:  Even if it did take a genius, that’s no excuse.  He clearly is one.  More of us should be able to see through it, though.

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