not in our stars, but in ourselves
So there were another couple of debates this week, all terrific opportunities for the networks hosting them to rake in bazillions in advertising revenue (you don’t think they do these things so the public can have a better idea of the candidates and where they stand on the issues, do you?), all pretty much superfluous.
1. The GOP is hardly worth discussing unless Jeb Lund is the one discussing it. I can’t even summon up any anger about them, not now. Let them tear each other apart. Let them die. Who cares.
2. What makes me much angrier these days is the continued horseshit-slinging from Clinton, and the mainstream media’s continued (albeit ever so slightly less intense) hostility to Sanders. Consider the case of the Washington Post. People actually think that’s a good newspaper. People actually think it’s more or less impartial. With that in mind, I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you.
3. One of the tricks Clinton tried to pull during Wednesday’s debate was to try to paint Sanders as a dictator-sympathizer. Presumably, many of the Latino voters in Florida are there because they fled authoritarian regimes in Latin American countries. Clinton did what she could to rally the troops against Sanders by pointing out his support for the Sandinistas and Castro and all those other big bads who were – and are, in cultural memory – enemies of the United States and of freedom itself. Now, I am no scholar of Latin American studies, but I do believe that Sanders has mainly objected to U.S.-backed militaristic coups; and has expressed support for “revolutionaries” who dared to oppose such coups; and has noted that, shady as Castro is, Cuba’s healthcare system is far superior to our own. American media may miss those nuances; Clinton will undoubtedly choose to ignore them; but I have to trust that the people she was trying to turn against Sanders will appreciate that his stance has always been a principled one. Furthermore, as Charles P. Pierce writes in Esquire, about Sanders’s mention of “the so-called Monroe Doctrine”:
But what most struck me is the depth of the denial still about the profound costs of U.S. intervention in the affairs of our closest neighbors, and our easiest proxies, in the various Great Games. The Monroe Doctrine might have made sense when England, France, Spain, and even Portugal still had imperial ambitions. But that was a very limited space in time. By the mid-1800’s, the Monroe Doctrine, and the philosophy behind it, was an excuse for land-grabbing.
[…] We insistently meddled in Cuba throughout it, even though our meddling came dangerously close to blowing up the entire world. Within our own hemisphere, we backed dictator after dictator, oligarch after oligarch. We armed terrorists. We financed coups. We allowed bombings and drug smuggling. We sold missiles to the mullahs in order to finance our terrorists. Somoza. Pincochet. Batista. Rios-Montt. To paraphrase John Quincy Adams, we did not go far abroad to find monsters to support.
The U.S. has a very, very bad track record when it comes to intervening in other countries’ affairs. Some have described Sanders’s foreign policy as naive, but I personally find it refreshing that he wants to pull way back from meddling around the world, and focus on getting our own house in order. How much more blood do we want to keep getting on our hands?
4. If you ask Clinton: lots. Salon is often terrible, but this Elias Isquith article is both important and interesting. The new issue of The Atlantic features a lengthy interview with/story about President Obama and his foreign policy. I confess: I haven’t read the whole thing. Isquith did, though, and he teased out some pretty telling details about who exactly kept pushing us into more unnecessary warfare – and why, when her tenure as Secretary of State ended, we suddenly seemed to dial things back down:
All that being said, though, the mere possibility that a President Clinton would unleash deadly force not because she thinks it’s the right thing to do on the merits, but because she believes she — the commander-in-chief — has “no choice” … Well, to describe it as a cause for concern would be to put it lightly. We’ve had presidents use the military for ego-driven and selfish reasons before. The result is usually disastrous.
[…] From the perspective of those who think U.S. foreign policy is already too militarized and hubristic, the Obama years, for all their flaws, have been a welcome respite from the “bomb-first-and-ask-questions-later” Washington consensus. At times, it’s felt that the only thing keeping the country from getting sucked back into another ruinous, full-scale military operation in the Middle East has been the will of the president.
Unfortunately, it looks like that interregnum may be about to end — regardless of who wins this year’s presidential election.
Look. Even if Clinton and Sanders matched up perfectly on all domestic policy (and had done so for years, rather than the opportunistic shift left she’s taken in recent months), I would still prefer him. I will always prefer the “don’t do stupid shit” approach to foreign policy over the “we can’t fail” approach. I will always prefer someone who opposed needless regime change and supported people who didn’t want to be raped and murdered to someone who started a fucking war in Libya. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
5. And in case we’re still caught up in the fiction that HRC is somehow more electable than my man Bernie:
He would win against any of the GOP creeps. She might, but it’s very far from given.
6. This is a very old profile, from when Bernie was first elected as a senator, but I think it’s quite endearing. It also shows that he’s stuck to his guns (if you’ll pardon the phrase) throughout his career – and he’s managed to be quite successful, despite or because of it.
7. Finally, a palate cleanser. Virgil Texas is half of the writing team behind the great Carl Diggler (the other is Felix Biederman), but he also pulled this little stunt last year: “How I Infiltrated a White Pride Facebook Group and Turned It into ‘LGBT Southerners for Michelle Obama’“. It is the only thing that has made me laugh all week, I think:
All of these shenanigans were too much to keep up with for the group’s lone, overworked admin, who did not seem to know how to stop the banner from changing or ban the trolls, whose numbers were starting to rival those of the Rebels. So, in the style of Shock Doctrine, I swooped in and offered to clean up this manufactured crisis. The hapless admin fell for it hook, line, and sinker.
Once I was in charge of the group I decided to take it in a new direction. The Confederate flag, I felt, had become a toxic brand. And all this South-rising-again business was a sure loser with swing voters. A top-down rebranding was in order. After rigorous focus-group testing, I decided to align the group with LGBT rights, Michelle Obama, Judaism, miscegenation, and the victorious Juche ideology. And that is how “confederate pride, heritage not hate” became “LGBT Southerners for Michelle Obama and Judaism.”
Bless you, Virgil, if that’s your real name. Leading us through Hell in order to ascend to heaven.