I'm taking some time off from this, hoping to get back at it in about a month. I'll still be active and opinionated on Facebook & Twitter.
This is me not caring about the Democratic race for the 2020 presidential nomination—not caring so hard that I'm writing about it again.
To be more precise, I am writing yet another post about Tulsi Gabbard, the candidate whose rhetoric thus far best embodies progressive ideals—yes, better than Bernie in that regard. And she delivers that rhetoric so calmly and smoothly. I'm beginning to wonder if she ever raises her voice to be heard over a cheering crowd.
This morning, inspired by the clip of Rep. Gabbard on The View, I took to Twitter and hammered out a nine-part thread. Rather than link to the tweets or embed them, I figured I should preserve them here. As of this afternoon, to my complete lack of surprise, Gabbard has yet to respond. She and her crew keep a rather busy schedule.
This was also inspired in part by a recent reminder in a secret Facebook group: The author of the post referred to Gabbard as a "tool of empire" and warned that as long as she remains a Democrat she will play a sheep-dog role in the campaign after the party nominates yet another centrist warmonger.
Figueredo has a lot to say about this View segment; Kulinski has even more. The first portion of her appearance is below the fold.
The 2020 General Election is less than 21 months away! The first primaries happen in less than a year! The first debates may happen in four months! And I still don't care!
The more the major network news vomitoria try to handicap the Democratic presidential reality show/beauty pageant—collecting polling numbers about undeclared and even speculative candidates, and completely omitting some who have declared—the more eagerly I want to push that shit away. MSNBC has given Tulsi Gabbard some air time, and that's probably for the last time.
The closest I get to caring about the 2020 mess concerns what strategies the Texas Greens or Movement for a People's Party might concoct toward a ballot access drive. In Texas, the collection of petition signatures begins the day after the state primary in March, with a statutory duration of 75 days. Crikey, if only the whole presidential campaign lasted a mere 75 days!
As Humanist Report sage Mike Figueredo admonishes us, be prepared in the coming months for a succession of disappointments from your progressive Democrat idols. In this video, I like the way he paints Barbara Lee as an "establishment progressive"—i.e., one who takes boldly leftish positions fairly consistently but still gravitates toward "viable" candidates like her fellow Californian Kamala Harris.
For amusement value, meanwhile, I recommend PDiddie's now-weekly takes on America's Next Top Democrat:
A pox upon the media
On this St. Valentine's Day, I feel as if I should be addressing the issue of love, the most powerful force on earth. Kayleen gave me a lovely Valentine card this morning; I took her to the Chocolate Bar last night (which hardly makes it a special occasion, we're kinda regulars there). Instead, I'm thinking about a song from 1980, recorded just after Joe Jackson's "Sunday Papers" and well before Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry."
On both occasions I've seen Robyn Hitchcock perform live, he has made winking references to his admiration for Bryan Ferry. Ferry co-founded Roxy Music with Brian Eno and a guitarist named Phil Manzanera, who was born in London but spent part of his childhood in Venezuela. So there's the connection, I guess.
Allow me to confess right here that I have never been to Venezuela. I have known a few people from that oil-rich country, all of them from relatively privileged backgrounds. From them I have heard varying opinions on Hugo Chávez and the Bolívarian Revolution, as well as varying impressions on the economic situation there. What they have said certainly varies more than what I've been able to glimpse from mainstream media and analyses of MSM coverage.
From my cushy middle-class existence in the US, I have been rooting for the Revolution to succeed since its beginnings, despite misgivings about Chávez's autocratic tendencies. Since crude oil prices dropped six years ago, a drop from which they have yet to rebound, Team Bolívar isn't doing so well. Why have I been rooting for it? Why do I even care? Because I remember.
Anti-Semitic. I don't think that it means what you (knee-jerk Zionists and AIPAC beneficiaries in Congress) think it means.
The relevant portion of Camp & Goldfield's podcast, embedded below, begins at about 39:30.
Five weeks into her first term in Congress, Rep. Ilhan Omar has dived into some hot water, and of course Twitter was quickly on fire over it. She was not pushed into that hot water. Her Twitter were impolitic and ill-advised, but not wrong and definitely not anti-Semitic in content. Nonetheless, her own party's leadership quickly and very publicly began throwing her under a whole procession of buses.
The story just broke yesterday, and I caught up with most of it this morning. Kyle Kulinski recorded a special rant about it, just a talking-head-and-smartphone video not on his regular Secular Talk set. There are plenty of other progressive takes, including The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald and Mehdi Hasan, saying essentially the same thing: All Omar has done is tell the truth.
Just a reminder: It's a resolution "Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal," not the actual bill. It contains no details on implementation. As of this morning, it doesn't have a number. It may not be everything that fans of Jill Stein and the Green Party could ask for, but it is historic nonetheless.
If nothing else, it will be terribly amusing to watch Republicans of the ilk of Louie Gohmert and James Inhofe turn themselves inside-out, asserting that they know more about climate science than the degreed professional scientists on the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (It's just common sense, y'know, that if the weather gets really cold, global warming can't be really happening!)
Additional news on the GND front: Kate Aronoff of The Intercept has been doing some good work on the subject. She appeared on Democracy Now! this morning and told us not to get our collective knickers in a knot over Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's not being named to the special GND committee: AOC has noted that she can do more good as lead sponsor of the resolution and working her other committee assignments. In this Intercept post, Aronoff reports that AOC denies that Speaker Nancy Pelosi was making light of the proposal with her comment about "the Green Dream or whatever they call it."
Pelosi on Thursday morning announced Ocasio-Cortez would not be on that select committee, though she was approached for a seat and declined to join. In a separate interview with Politico, Pelosi mocked the notion of a Green New Deal. “It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive,” she said. “The green dream or whatever they call it — nobody knows what it is but they’re for it right?”
You may see this denial as naïveté, or blind worship of the most powerful woman in the US government, but what I've seen of AOC indicates otherwise. Last month, when she endorsed Pelosi in the House Speaker election and Progressives shat their organic bamboo Underoos in unison, my perception was not that she was just another fauxgressive sell-out. Sure, the optics weren't great, but for a neophyte she's a cannier player than most are able or willing to see. Her currying favor with the Speaker isn't selling out, and it isn't four-dimensional chess; it is a case of playing the angles to get her agenda on the table, so that it has even the remotest chance of passing.
Calling Madame Speaker a "climate champion" is AOC's way of putting her on notice that she needs to start acting like one. (EDIT: The NYT reminds us that Pelosi pushed for cap & trade, a market-based half-measure, as Speaker in 2009; she got it through the House but not the Senate.) It reminds me of when the Nobel Committee gave President Barack Obama the Peace Prize before he'd actually done anything beyond not being George W. Bush: a way of encouraging him to be the promoter peace his campaign rhetoric made him out to be. (His subsequent record on the peace front was mixed, to say the least.)
Similarly, as breathtakingly stupid as Pelosi sometimes appears on video, and as stubborn as she is about not embracing socialistic solutions, House Democrats made her Speaker because she knows where the levers of power are and is well acquainted with their use. She can swat down uppity progressive Congressmembers as easily as she swats aside questions about single-payer health care.
It's an open question whether Pelosi is aware that progressive/socialist policies are popular with the electorate, especially young voters, or whether she gives a flying fuck. To paraphrase Upton Sinclair rather liberally, It's difficult to make a legislator understand something when her campaign contributions depend on her not understanding it—even a legislator in a relatively safe seat.
Through a somewhat fortuitous set of circumstances, I find myself at work an hour earlier than usual. Suffice to say that the cable is out at home, I woke up at 1 am, I was unable to get back to sleep, and after reading the first chapter of Ray Raphael's A People's History of the American Revolution I had the urge to blog. So instead of seeking out an early-morning coffee hut with dodgy wi-fi, I headed to the office.
Apologies if this entry is a sprawling mess, but it's not easy to keep big-picture observations short and tidy.
This past week-plus, instead of posting individual entries on individual news items, I waited until all the items congealed into a gestalt before commenting on them here. The gestalt in question has one of the items at its focal point: all the saber-rattling and other hubbub over Venezuela.
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.