On Defeating McCain

There is another primary tomorrow. I want a President who would do something about this:

The New York Times lectured Haiti on April 18 that “Haiti, its agriculture industry in shambles, needs to better feed itself.” Unfortunately, the article did not talk at all about one of the main causes of the shortages – the fact that the US and other international financial bodies destroyed Haitian rice farmers to create a major market for heavily subsidized rice from US farmers. This is not the only cause of hunger in Haiti and other poor countries, but it is a major force.

A friend is reading a book and sends this quotation:

From Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Reflections of Women Writers by Susan Morrison

Clinton’s career as a politician, rather than the wife of one, began more or less on July 7, 1999, when she announced she was forming a campaign to run for the US senate. She pronounced herself “very humble and more than a little surprised to be here.” “Why the Senate? Why New York? and “Why me?”. The same day she embarked on her famous “listening tour”.

It was hard to get a good view of Clinton, since most of the reporters from the risers were now crammed in one room, but every time she turned my way, it seemed, nodding emphatically, fairly radiating earnest concern. She was concerned about access to dental care and better markets for dairy products.

Half an hour into the ninety minute session, I counted three reporters fast asleep. I found the listening difficult to take, not just because it was sleep inducing. The truth of the campaign – already obvious at that early date – was that NY was just a vehicle for Clinton’s ambition.

The logic of the exercise was circular, or in its maddening topology, perhaps more like a Mobius strip. She argued that she was justified in running from a state that she had never lived in because what mattered was “where you stand not where you are from.” But when asked where she stood, she kept on insisting that she had come to New York to listen. “All I can say is, I care deeply about the issues that are important in this state that I’ve been learning about,” is how she put it, absurdly.

Now one could come up with similar things to say about Obama, and many more critical things to say about both. One can even come up with the ways in which both candidates are more closely aligned with McCain than a real opposition would be. Still at this point I think it would be advantageous to defeat McCain. I am not one of those who believes it has to get still worse before it gets better. To the contrary, I think that if it gets still worse, it could then get worse yet. We might as well do what we can to turn things around now.


16 thoughts on “On Defeating McCain

  1. Those who think it has to get worse before it gets better have a truly mystical approach to life. Or a mechanical one. Humans are not rubber bands!

    Actually, it seems to me that humans can put up with a heck of a lot that is outrightly dysfunctional or pathological, and yet still not do anything about their circumstances. They get used to it instead. And a lot of the time, humans form a symbiotic relationship with the social diseases that afflict them. They feel that they are personally benefitting from the social pathology. After all, the more that people are sick, the more there is an extra dimension of existence to be exploited through various psychological appeals, special services, etc. Humans can love nothing better than being part of a general social disease.

  2. Nothing about the Old Left irritates me more than the idea that if things get really, really bad, we will naturally get a socialist revolution.

  3. Apparently. I am really not up enough on this stuff and so I don’t know if it was Marx himself who said it – actually yes, it’s in the idea that there are these natural stages of the economy/society, feudalism to capitalism to socialism; contradictions of capitalism will get so bad that we’ll have to move to socialism.

    But who decided that one therefore had to wait for things to get bad, and decided to criticize mitigating strategies, reforms and so on as ways of shoring up capitalism and preventing the revolution (they are ways of shoring up capitalism, I will allow that), I am not sure. I just don’t trust people enough, I suppose, to believe that if pushed into horror they will necessarily come up with equity and justice. Or as you might say: I’m not mystical or idealist enough to believe that.

  4. I think that the roots of this idea might be traceable to an idea that we are basically material substances that act according to the same principles as Newtonian physics. Well. no. And even Newtonian physics has been way superceded. Mind is not reduceable to matter, certainly. We might do better to see it mind as a more complex expression of matter, but not in a way that it is reduceable to mechanical physics.

  5. I read a review of that book that said it ought to be called “Thirty Women who Hate Hillary Clinton.” That’s not to say she isn’t ambitious or that Obama wouldn’t be a better choice, but the people I know in New York seem to think she’s done a good job for them in many ways.

    What I hate is to see Obama and Hillary getting beaten up by the press while John McCain doesn’t have to defend anything at all about his record.

  6. “What I hate is to see Obama and Hillary getting beaten up by the press while John McCain doesn’t have to defend anything at all about his record.”

    Exactly. And that’s interesting about the book. My friend is an anti-Hillaryite, currently an Obama-head. I’m sick of the Clintons, that’s why I’m for Obama, and also generally I like his supporters better than the Hillary supporters. I’m going to have to get over it, probably, if she wins the nomination. I’ll be very tempted to vote for Cynthia McKinney and the Reconstruction Party. But I don’t want to cause McCain to win by default, because I think he would *definitely* be *much* worse than either Democrat.

    Newtonian physics as origin of that idea, I don’t doubt it. But it’s also a specific (vulgar?) revolutionary belief or attitude of the 2oth century and some of the 21st, from what I have been able to gather. Here is where we need someone like Renegade Evolution to explain.

  7. See the Field Negro on this, particularly:

    “‘Oh but Field, Hillary is too divisive, we need someone that can bring the country together!’ My answer to that would be why? Why the fuck would I want to come together with my political enemies? See, it’s like this, I come from a place where we shot at our political enemies, so excuse me if I am not feeling the whole Kumbaya thing. I don’t want to reach across the isle like the ‘O’ man, because I happen to be a creature of my convictions. And what I believe ain’t what those red state folks believe; no matter what they tell you, and no matter how many civil rights sites Mr. Morton visits. My interests are different than their interests, and just because we have to share a country together doesn’t mean we have to agree on shit. For instance, I believe in a woman’s right to choose, yet I am against the death penalty. I believe that two people of the same sex should have the right to marry each other, and adopt as many kids as they would like. I believe in implementing some serious gun control measures in urban areas, and I believe that felons should be given the right to vote after they serve their time to society. I believe that health care should be free to every citizen..scratch that, every human being– citizen or not– who happens to live in these divided states of A-merry-ca. And speaking of citizens, I believe that illegal immigrants who are here now should be allowed to stay if they can proof that they have a full time job. I believe that billionaires like Warren Buffet should pay the same amount of taxes percentage wise as Joe Sixpack. I believe that the minimum wage should be raised to $8 an hour, and I believe that there should be a cap on certain CEO compensation packets. I believe that the environment is seriously fucked up and we should do something about it. I believe that we should spend as much money in education as we do on defense. And I believe that we should get the fuck out of Iraq yesterday. But I seriously digress.”


  8. First, the New York Times needs to learn that splitting the infinitive is still uncool.

    Second, I think it is fairly well historically established that the people in the worst condition rarely are responsible for starting a revolution. They are too busy subsisting. There was a lot of research done about this in the 1970s and 1980s, and conclusions varied from here to there, but in most cases of successful revolutions with which I am familiar, it’s actually a group of people who are relatively well off and feel threatened, or a group of people who are just getting to the point of having hope for social improvement and see it dashed, who revolt.

  9. S – yes, this is what I’ve been able to gather, also. NYT: my pet peeve nowadays is that people say “need” for everything. Instead of “must,” “should,” etc. Also in restaurants and espresso bars: “do you need anything else?” I always want to respond, “You know, I do not even need this $3 espresso, I only want it … I would like you to stop butchering the English language … “

  10. Prof. Zero–sorry that I’m late to this conversation! I don’t understand your meaning in posting this excerpt, since it seems to me to demonstrate more the shallowness of our media rather than the unseemly, monstrous ambition of Clinton. To wit: “Half an hour into the ninety minute session, I counted three reporters fast asleep. I found the listening difficult to take, not just because it was sleep inducing. The truth of the campaign – already obvious at that early date – was that NY was just a vehicle for Clinton’s ambition. ” That passage suggests that our media can’t be bothered to care about the details of policies that matter to people, whereas Clinton does care, and she cares deeply about getting the details right. Suggesting that it’s “ambitious” to actually listen to the people she wanted to serve is just asinine. If a male candidate had done the “listening tour,” he would have been touted for his sensitivity and his political gifts. But, since it’s OK to say and write anything at all about Hillary Clinton, and to ascribe evil motivations to everything she says or does, then the writer can write a dumb passage like that one and can expect never to be challenged on it.

    By the way, I posted on this book on my caucus day, and it was one of the things that pushed me over the top as a Clinton supporter. (http://www.historiann.com/2008/02/05/senatorella-for-president/) I just don’t get the Hillary hatred, which I think in many women is a projection of their own self-loathing. Embrace your inner Hillary, and understand that whenever the media or her opponents try to discipline her, school her, or put her back in her place, they’re doing it to all of us women.

  11. Field Negro for president! How about if Clinton and Obama seriously digress from the mainstream media’s idiotic agenda and talk turkey? I don’t hate either of these candidates; I just want one of them to beat that lying piece of shit McCain who is clearly my enemy, no doubts about it.

  12. Historiann, I published an article about the anti-woman attacks on Hillary under my own name over ten years ago! I’m hip to the misogynistic attacks on her and I have always objected to them!

    But I’m for Obama right now. From the Clintons we have NAFTA, expansion of the Federal death penalty, destruction of welfare, etc. etc., and Hillary voted for the war! I do not agree with any of this and it is not any inner part of me!

    Why I posted it beyond being a hint to Pennsylvanians, vote Obama today! – no particular reason, bricolage like much of this blog, it was an interesting quotation that was shot my way. I will try to vote for her in November if she is the nominee but I may not be able to take it and I may have to vote McKinney. That goes for Obama too … depending on how far right he really pulls, I may have to vote McKinney. I’m trying to be virtuous and support these Republicans Lite against the hard right McCain represents, but it’s not easy.

  13. “If a male candidate had done the ‘listening tour,’ he would have been touted for his sensitivity and his political gifts.”

    Historiann – this is true as is the rest of what you say about the way Hillary is misrepresented, attacked, and so on.

    However I don’t agree with her politics and I am tired of the Clintons whom I have also mistrusted from way back. As I keep saying I liked Kucinich and Gravel, then moved down to Edwards, then moved down to my last two choices, Obama and Clinton, both *far* too conservative for me (even Edwards is, but he’s somewhat better, or so I decided at the time. My theory has been that Obama was the most likely to beat McCain and could be attracted to more progressive causes than Clinton could. And that it would be nice to have someone other than a Clinton or a Bush in charge for a change. And that someone with that international background he has would be good for us right now. And that by electing a Black person who is at least not a member of the far right, we might change ourselves … I know misogyny is everywhere and it is deep but I still say electing Obama would represent a sea change.

    I do not think women are progressive just by being women. The racism and misogyny in the set of essays I just graded, by white women, was rampant. I have more confidence in Obama than in Hillary because his pastor is Jeremiah Wright, who has a realistic view of what has gone on and is going on in this country.

    “Field Negro for president! How about if Clinton and Obama seriously digress from the mainstream media’s idiotic agenda and talk turkey?”

    Joanna – I think these are great ideas!

    Now it is time to make a plug for my true representative, Barbara Lee. As the bumper speaker says, “Barbara Lee speaks for me!”



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