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Monday: So much going on

Update: So, TPM is trying its hand with a little expectation setting. To TPM, it is unthinkable that Hillary will get a crack at the nomination until 2016. The subtext is, “don’t even think about it, bitches”. Like we’re going to be satisfied with that. Hokay, suit yourself. But don’t expect me to vote for YOUR guy in 2012 just because you think I don’t have anywhere else to go. And if it turns out that you find you need me come late October, I’m just going to tell you to wait until 2016.

Also, Rick Warren is a dick. It now looks like both sides of the aisle are engaging in a lot of black-white thinking on welfare reform without considering that there was a right way to do it that would have been both liberal and not redistributory. Europe does it all over the place. So, you know, I reject arguments from both sides while putting myself firmly in the liberal camp. I can promise you that Hillary would never have Rick Warren at her inauguration.

Nothing good ever comes of a bad seed.
**********************************************
I’m in the local Starbucks (found a bit of serendipitous change in my pocket this am) waiting for my car to be fixed. It’s going to be painful but I can’t get around central NJ without a car, so there’s that.

There’s so much worth commenting on that I’m not quite sure where to start. Let’s start with an answer to Violet Socks’ question, “Why are we hearing so much about Hillary 2016?“. This is related to the question, “Why are we hearing so much about welfare reform?”, although at first, you might have missed the connection. In case you missed it, the NYTimes had a big piece on its frontpage yesterday about how welfare reform has left so many people without any visible means of support. It quotes some former Clinton officials who actually *resigned* over welfare reform. {{rolling eyes}} And while the abandonment of so many families during this little Depression is indeed disgraceful and horrifying, the NYTimes is most definitely slanting this story. Here’s why:

1.) Welfare Reform, or Clinton’s promise to “end welfare as we know it” was about putting people to work. I think I’ve mentioned this before but if you’re a liberal, the last thing you want is to create a permanent underclass of people whose lives are tied up in generational poverty. What the vast majority of welfare recipients really want is a job. Yes, there are people who will never be ready for the workplace. Yes, there will be people who have problems with substance abuse or criminal behavior. We need different solutions for those people and while a job is better for people who have run afoul of the criminal justice system, there are just some poor people who shouldn’t have to work in the same way that some middle class stay at home mothers and rich heiresses don’t have to work. Some poor people may not have the emotional wherewithal to go to work each day. We need to do something about that and help them. But the vast majority of people on welfare want to work. It’s not easy to survive on a measly check each month and it’s no way to raise your kids. Putting people on the road to work is a good thing and if that’s what Clinton meant (and I’m pretty sure that it was) then a liberal should be for it.

2.) Clinton’s plan included housing vouchers, healthcare, childcare, training, all the support mechanisms you needed to put people back to work. The Republicans shot that down. Repeatedly. There are votes on the issue and you can go back and look them up. The Clinton reform bill was generous. The Republican bills were much less so. MUCH less so. Eventually, Clinton signed a bill and it was awful but he was able to soften it in his next term. But liberals seem determined to whack Clinton over this for even bringing the subject up. That’s called denial, my friends. They want to deny that welfare had a problem by trapping people in poverty. If you’re a lefty and you’re still pissed over this, get over it. Being poor forever, even if the government is giving you a check is not a life and expecting people to be grateful to you for that is delusional. In fact, you could have seen Clinton’s Welfare Reform bill as a way to strengthen the social safety net for all of us. I know I would have been delighted if after my severance bennies had run out I would have been able to sign onto a government healthcare program while I worked my way back into the middle class. Yeah, that would have been great. No wonder the Republicans were so agin’ it.

3.) In the present, there’s nothing stopping the federal and state Congresses all around the country from approving a second stimulus package for a giant jobs bill or extending welfare benefits. You could call it “emergency TANF extension” or something suitably mellifluous. We do it for unemployed people all the damn time. I am a lucky recipient of such an extension and I am extremely grateful that it has allowed me to pay my insurance bills, my heating bills, food for my adolescent eating machine. I also paid a shitload of taxes from my severance benefits so, youknow, I don’t feel the least bit guilty about this. Last year after I was laid off I still managed to support a family of four on the taxes I paid. The thing is, Republicans would like it if I wasn’t so calm right now. They would prefer it if I and my other unemployed colleagues were desperate and completely broke. Why? So I would turn on Obama and the Democrats. That’s part of their plan. The only thing that is standing between frantic welfare recipients and stability for them and their children is the fact that Republicans want us to get to the point where we are so angry we will turn on the politicians who may still have a conscience (the jury is stil out on that one.)

I’m no fan of Obama and I have plenty of reasons to vote for someone to the left of the Democratic party so what the Republicans are doing has absolutely no impact on me. I wasn’t going to vote for him under any circumstances and I sure as hell won’t vote for a Republican, whose current behavior is rapidly changing my mind about the existence of supernatural forces of evil. But what would make me change my mind about electing a Democrat to the White House? Well, it would matter a great deal to me if Obama bowed out and Hillary threw her hat in the ring. Yep. I’d vote for that ticket.

And, I suspect, there are a LOT of women who have finally woken up and smelled the coffee and realized that we need a champion for us in government. It sure as hell isn’t coming from NOW, NARAL or Planned Parenthood, who seem scared of their own shadows and afraid to rock Obama’s boat. But if they roll over for Obama and demand almost nothing from him, they’ll be completely useless to women going forward and the attacks on us will start to accelerate. So, really, women’s organizations are worse than useless. What we need is a big, dramatic thing to happen that would say loud and clear that things are about to change in a big way.

Why does it have to be Hillary? Because she is a legitimate player. If her own party hadn’t turned on her in 2008, she’d be president right now and running for her second turn. She’s been our “foreign president” and the world loves her and respects her. Even the State Department seems to be running smoothly and hers was the first department to give gay employees all the rights of their straight colleagues. AND she is unabashedly pro-female. She doesn’t shrink from this. No one has managed to shut her up about it and she’s not afraid to confront congressmen about reproductive rights in the strongest possible terms. I haven’t seen Obama even come *close* to confronting the Republicans on these issues in the way that Hillary has.

So, she’s very popular, capable, committed, competent and women are starting to see that we need her. THAT’S why Pelosi is trying to deflect pro-Hillary sentiment to 2016. You know, it’s utter bullshit to believe that Hillary will run in 2016. She’s not. By then, she really will need to dial it back and retire. And by 2016, the damage will be done to the economy, my generation and women. No matter who makes it to the White House, Obama or Romney, the result is going to be the same. On this reality, the lefties are also closing their eyes and wishing. I’m looking at reality straight in the face and you know, it’s not going to happen, guys. There is no 11 dimensional chess game. And if what I read in Karen Ho’s book is correct, we are teetering on the edge of a true catastrophe. In fact, this is not a game. To be perfectly honest, your best hope of turning things around in all respects, is Hillary.

Which is why the NYTimes rolled out that piece about Welfare Reform. The purpose was to taint the Clinton legacy. Just watch, every time people get a little wistful for the Clintons, welfare reform and banging the drums for war in Iran start to ramp up. It’s so damn predictable I rarely read the papers anymore. And you know WHY these two things keep coming up over and over again? It’s because just like right wingnuts, lefties have buttons that can be pushed and these are the two that the political operatives and wealthy know drive lefties absolutely crazy and cause them to vote against their best interests.

So, there you go, Violet. Pelosi is trying to make people wait for Hillary in a scenario she knows is never going to happen. It’s 2012 for Hillary or never. She’d prefer it was never, for reasons known only to Pelosi. I suspect that Pelosi has been in power for so long that she has lost perspective and doesn’t realize that it’s not all about her. Being a liberal doesn’t mean a damn thing if you can never vote liberal on anything. But it sounds like Pelosi is fighting a losing battle. People around her must be whispering about calling Hillary up from the bench. So, the NYTimes rolls out the welfare reform bill and makes it sound like it was all Bill’s fault. A few years ago they and the Washington Post engaged in a series of “The State Department is being run by HillaryLand” posts, remember those? Yep, we were supposed to overlook all the evidence that she was doing a great job and be suspicious of the fact that she manages the department in a different style than her predecessors.

Too late. She’s good. And she projects confidence and command everywhere she goes as the Hillary texting tumblr shows:

Now, I know that Obama doesn’t lay around on the couch texting. (*I* do that) He’s probably playing golf. But here’s the thing, lefties: there’s nothing you can do or say to make me prefer him to her. Nothing. You can call me a racist, Republican, stupid, uneducated, insane, It. Does. Not. Matter. I want HER and not him. He is not entitled to a second term. He’s a lousy president and under him, women’s rights are eroding at an alarming rate. He’s too close to Wall Street and the culture of “smartness”. I see the future, guys, and you do too. It’s not going to be good. And no matter how much Pelosi protests, I am not going to wait until 2016. What the hell does she think we are? Children? Does she think she can get all parental and say something that will make us wait and that will somehow satisfy us or make our concerns less urgent? Well, it won’t. Get Obama out and put him on some fricking speaking tour. Let *HIM* do fundraising and supporting the Democratic party loyally. Get him and Geithner and all of the rest of his Wall Street crowd out of there and give us a dramatic change. Make the Republicans cower in their holy skivvies. Give us Hillary.

Racism and Deadlines

So, the Obama whips are trying to get us back into line, supporting Obama for re-election next year.  Why else would we be treated to timely reminders of what racists we are?  It’s a strange phenomenon but I never think about Obama’s race until he or one of his lackeys brings it up and shoves it in my face again.  He is, according to them, as spotless and competent or incompetant as any other Democrat.  Like Clinton.  {{eyes rolling}}  (Joseph Cannon has a nice post on this as well).

Can I just dispel some myths and legends about Clinton because I witnessed it, having been old enough (and born) to vote for him in 1992?

When I voted for him, I thought he was a moderate liberal.  One thing was for damn sure, he was nowhere near as conservative as his Republican opponent.  Nosiree.  Plus, I really liked his wife.  She was smart and didn’t mind sticking up for working women even when the traditional women got on her case.

Anyway, what I remember about Clinton’s terms in office, more than any other thing that happened during those eight years, was the relentlessly negative coverage he got from the media and the endless investigations instigated by Republican troublemakers.  It started before he took office and it didn’t end even after his moving van was chased away from the White House by screeching hordes hellbent on denying the Clintons even one piece of personal china from their friends and supporters.  They were even accused of swiping the “W’s” off the keyboards.

Even the Supreme Court didn’t see the harm in letting him and his wife be subject to crazy, speculative lawsuits.  He’d just have to deal with them.  He did.  But that doesn’t mean his performance in office didn’t suffer.  I think it did.  He had to shelve a lot of things he wanted to do.  DADT was a compromise solution.  So was DOMA.  Without that middle ground, there was a good possibility that some very negative homophobic amendments would have been passed.  Lani Guinier didn’t have a chance.  His attorney general picks were harassed for having nanny problems (but Tim Geithner suffered no punishment for not paying his taxes.  *He* was confirmed anyway for an infraction that would have gotten him fired if he had been an IRS agent).  Even his military strategies were called into question.  Remember the accusations of “Wag the Dog” when he bombed bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998?  His Republican detractors were convinced that he did it because he wanted to take everyone’s mind off Monica Lewinsky, not because bin Laden was a dangerous terrorist who had bombed two American embassies in Africa and a US Naval vessel.

Then there’s the stuff that progressives say they hate him for, like NAFTA.  If there was a free trade agreement that ever had a reason for being, it might be NAFTA.  We do a lot of business with Canada and Mexico.  NAFTA had the promise of eliminating a lot of bureaucracy, saving everyone a lot of time and money.  You know, smaller government is not such a bad thing when it’s done well.  The problem is that Republicans would not enforce labor standards.  Maybe Clinton should have abandoned it at that point.  But NAFTA is not the most significant thing plaguing the employment market right now.  I am not competing for a job against some dude in Guadalajara.  My competition is in Western Europe and Asia.  Europe because they actually protected their scientific infrastructure and Asia because there is a lot of cheap labor there.  Unions are key to both situations.  I will leave it to the political braintrusts to figure that out.

As for Welfare Reform?  I was all for it.  I think reducing generational poverty is a laudable endeavor and am genuinely surprised that other liberals aren’t in favor of it too.  It is much better to have a job than to have a measly government check that keeps you poor.  I supported programs that trained people, especially young mothers, to get decent jobs and education.  The more we educate women and get them to support themselves, the fewer children they will have and the better the quality of life for the children they do have.  (Well, that was the theory until Obama came along and bought into deficit reduction, but I digress) As I remember it, Clinton’s team wanted to support parents with child care subsidies and housing vouchers and additional Head Start while they were transitioning to a work environment.  And Republicans, as is their wont, were agin it.  I fail to see how asking people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps but denying them boots was actually going to work but our media punditry seem to remove the obligation to make sense from Republican proposals.  The Republicans passed a draconian welfare reform act which Clinton mitigated later.

The area where I think Clinton failed was in the regulation of derivatives and allowing the dismantling of the Glass-Steagal Act by Gramm-Bliley.  Brookesly Born was the legendary regulator who opposed Larry Summers about the regulation of derivatives.  She was right, they were wrong.  Some of the guys who were Clinton appointees who joined with Summers to gang up on Born, now regret that they didn’t take her advice because she was absolutely right.  But note which candidate appointed Summers to his economics team.  That’s right, Barack Obama.  Gramm-Bliley was another matter.  We can’t leave Clinton totally off the hook but I think that he counted on Gore to win in 2000 and keep an eye on how that was going.  So, yeah, Clinton had a hand in this, probably by appointing Robert Rubin and letting the finance industry have a little too much freedom.  That was regrettable.  But the bulk of the responsibility for what happened in 2008 is George Bush’s.  There were plenty of warning signs in 2006 that the markets were going seriously off the rails and his regulators were either complicit or incompetent.  And then Paulson and Geithner failed to prevent the collapse of Lehman Brothers.  That was the disaster that triggered all the rest.  And who does Obama appoint as his Treasury Secretary? Tim Geithner.

The biggest differences that I can see between the Clinton years and the Obama years is that when the Republicans amped up the crazy starting in 1992, no one had ever seen anything like it before.  It wasn’t like Watergate when Nixon really did something criminal and both parties took him out.  No, this was a political media Dresden that seemed determined to wipe Clinton off the map.  He and Hillary didn’t always navigate the firestorm very well.  They were the first that had to go through it.  No other president in my lifetime has had every crevice of their personal and political lives examined in such humiliating detail.  And what did the millions of dollars of investigations turn up?  A blow job.  That was it.  It wasn’t even “paradise by the dashboard light” homerun intercourse.  Other than that, they were clean.  I doubt that any other political family in Washington could have come out of that looking like the dedicated public servants they turned out to be.

But they learned while they were in office what the limits were to what they could accomplish of their agenda.  And, by golly, they got a lot done.  The Republicans were constantly thwarted in what they wanted to do.  Progressives call it “triangulation”; I call it “pol-i-tics”. Gingrich shut down government and got in big trouble for it.  Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy against the Republicans wishes.  They tried to impeach Clinton and the public supported him anyway.  They wanted to pass an amendment to the constitution defining marriage only between a man and a woman and all they got was DOMA.  With another, less experienced, less apt student in the Oval Office, the Republicans would have gotten away with murder.

When Hillary ran in 2008, she was an even quicker learner than Bill.  She took the media on and beat it.  It wasn’t Fox News that took Hillary down.  It was her own party.

And now we are asked to support the guy who “beat” her in the primary.  A guy who runs a sexist White House.  A guy who CEO’s on Wall Street say is even more right of center than they thought.  A guy who was a deficit hawk during a recession.  A guy who didn’t think there was anything he could or wanted to do about unemployment.  A guy who is disgracefully allowing the dismantling of the US R&D industry without lifting a finger to help.  A guy who gave Bankers a pass.  A guy who crafted one of the most inept forms of healthcare insurance reform imaginable that will do absolutely nothing to lower costs but passes almost all of them onto the backs of already stretched consumers.  A guy who hurt struggling homeowners with HAMP.  A guy who gave away the store to Republicans when they took the US and global economies hostage by vowing not to raise the debt ceiling until they got what they wanted.  A guy who wants to make a Grand Bargain with Social Security and Medicare, virtually all that anyone my age will have left after we’ve lost everything else due to prolonged bouts of unnecessary unemployment.  And it’s not like Barack Obama is facing an economic situation that the entire world’s economists and history had no prior knowledge of.  There’s plenty of examples out there that demonstrate exactly what needs to be done from The Great Depression to the bad example of the Japanese lost decade to the Swedish crisis.  He’s supposed to be brilliant.  All he needs to do to put the economy back on track is to support policies that are known to have helped in the past.  But he won’t do them.  Why???

In short, the Obama loyalists say we have nothing to complain about.  The only reason we don’t want Obama is because we are racists.  It’s all in the color of his skin.  If not for that, we would be content with our dwindling middle class lives and diminished expectations.  We would gladly endure the beatings if we could just get over the fact that he is a few shades too dark because the Democratic party says that it has no one else who is more representative of its values or more competent in execution than Barack Obama.

And what would be the point of making your base feel like they have some reason to feel guilty and that the Clintons were not all they were cracked up to be?

I have no idea but somewhere yesterday I read that the deadline for filing for the upcoming primaries is fast approaching.  It’s the end of October.  If I didn’t know better, I think we saw the Democrats blink.  After all, they have been telling us for months now that it is a fantasy and crazy for us to believe that there will be a primary challenge to Obama in 2012.  Even Hillary has sought to dispel the notion that she will take him on.  So, if that’s the case, why the over the top denialism of the Clinton years and the persistent accusations of racism?  I mean, if she has already said she’s not taking him on and there’s no one else to challenge him, what’s the problem?  It sounds like Obama lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Unless the base is getting restless and the deadline isn’t coming soon enough…

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