Clinton Supporters for McCain?

August 26, 2008

CNN reports without any details that there was a “Clinton supporters for McCain” party in Denver.  This would have been a good opportunity for serious reporting.  How many were at the party? Where was it? Who are these people?  Why would people who wanted Clinton so disrespect her beliefs?

I have been looking for someone from of this persuasion and I have been unable to find anyone who says he or she was for Clinton but is now voting for McCain, who opposes all of her programs.  The linked article seems to say that the binding belief of these people is that Obama is too inexperienced.  These are obviously people who would have jumped for Nixon over Kennedy, who did not vote for Bill Clinton the first time and would not have considered Reagan or Bush.  They seem to be going for McCain because he has aged in the Senate, not for what he has done there.

This can’t be real can it?  Why isn’t Clinton expressing shock and betrayal over this?  Does she believe in her own policies?  I would really like to know what is behind this, as it makes no sense and I have not found an explanation even from the people who are quoted as members of this group.

Exxon Valdez: Permissive Standards for Corporations

August 26, 2008

The U.S. Supreme Court is coming under fire for favoring business at the expense of both precedent and principle. The linked article discusses decisions where the interest of business has predominated over the interests of consumers and citizens. This of course was the expected result of Bush’s appointments.

What is more interesting to me is the Court’s willingness to abandon supposedly “conservative” judicial tenets to achieve these results. Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for example, have criticized the Court for usurping the role of Congress in the Exxon Valdez decision.

What surprises me is the abandonment of the “law and order” principals that are invoked to incarcerate people when corporate malfeasance is at issue. Mandatory sentencing and long sentences are deemed appropriate for individuals because criminal behavior is reprehensible. For reprehensible corporate behavior, however, the Exxon Valdez decision says that limits are appropriate and the same juries that convict people should not be trusted to penalize corporations.

For this reason the Court declared in the Exxon Valdez decision that henceforth there will be a limit on the discretion of juries in awarding punitive damages for reprehensible behavior by corporations. Exxon received a 4.5 billion dollar reprieve by the Court in reducing the jury award to $500,000,000. This of course is just a small fraction of its continuously record setting profits last quarter.  Certainly a minor inconvenience compared to spending one’s life, or a significant portion of it, in prison.

There are now two standards for “reprehensible conduct” in America. There is the harsh standard levied upon individuals in criminal settings and the lax standard imposed upon corporations in the civil penalty context.

If the Court, and its allies, meant what they said in “law and order” discussions you would expect that reprehensible conduct would be viewed equally hostilely whether it was associated with an individual or a corporation.   Similarly, you would expect juries to be viewed in the same light whether the defendant was an individual accused of a crime or a corporation found to have committed anti-social behavior.

The Peace Demonstrators at the Democratic National Convention

August 26, 2008

The Denver police are prepared to arrest thousands of people at the convention, having converted warehouses to holding tanks. My question is why were arrests on such a massive scale anticipated or at least prepared for?

The Democratic Party overseeing the herding of demonstrators into warehouses? Surely they were not anticipating massive demonstration from people on the right. Placards saying “Save Gitmo,” “keep our troops in Iraq'” “Don’t Tax the Rich,” “no welfare for injured troops,” “support pharmaceutical companies,” “a pox on the middle class,” “Let
Them Eat Cake,” that sort of thing. Probably not likely.

The demonstrators are largely involved in peace demonstrations. To my knowledge there has been no hint of unruly behavior other than some groups being in the streets. There is something a little off putting about abruptly jailing these people as the self declared but now apparently hedging candidate for peace accepts the party’s nomination. Presumably many of those jailed are people who voted for the candidate inside the building secured largely through corporate sponsorship.

I wonder if they fear something like the 1968 Chicago demonstrations which resulted in a police riot and seek to avoid that by the early jailing of anyone protesting. Kind of an ironic solution.

I wonder if this signals that Obama and party leadership are aware of a significant cleft between the party and the peace movement.

I wonder whether the peace demonstrators will be able to see from the warehouses the speech that Obama will give on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. King of course led peaceful demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Pretty ironic that they want the streets cleared of anti-war demonstrators so they can commemorate a great anti-war demonstrator.

McCain on Leno: Relaxed and Cordial

August 26, 2008

Here’s McCain talking on Leno Monday.  He is obviously much better chatting than giving a speech, where he too often seems oddly lost and confused.  What strikes me is how the candidate’s talking point differ so much from his voting record.  Broad generalities excite the crowd even when they diverge from both the voting record and prior position statements.  This of course is true on both sides.

Poor Obama he is being painted as a liberal by the Republicans and right wing by the liberals.   But come to think of it that is probably exactly how he would like to be painted.

It is interesting that McCain says that the reason for the attack ads is that Obama will not agree to a series of town hall meetings across the country.  That sounds like a softly worded threat or bribe offer to me.  He wants to fashion these meetings in the same was as agreed upon by Kennedy and Goldwater.

I had not heard of this agreement between Kennedy and Goldwater to conduct town hall meetings across the country.  McCain claims that his proposal about town hall meetings is the same as the one that was agreed to by Kennedy, the president, and Goldwater, someone planning to seek the Republican nomination when the primaries started in 1964.  He said that this process between Kennedy and Goldwater was interrupted by the tragedy in Dallas.

Interrupted by Kennedy’s death?  Goldwater was not his party’s candidate in November 1963. They could not possibly have had a binding agreement or much of an agreement of any kind.   Certainly no debates were interrupted by Kennedy’s death.  Is McCain saying that there had been a binding agreement for presidential debates between Kennedy and a  person who would not face even a primary election until 1964?  I assume there may have been discussions, but wouldn’t this be just a little tentative, since Republicans had not chosen who they were going to run as their candidate?

Convention Coverage by Amy Goodman

August 26, 2008

People looking for different perspectives on the Democratic Party’s convention must listen to Amy Goodman. (In Seattle she carried on 91.3 FM at 6:00 am and 5:00 pm.) Has anyone else noticed that her cadence and emphasis is exactly like those of Walter Cronkite? The same dramatic silences and slowly building sentences. Her interviews are masterful in the way that she never diverts attention from the person she is interviewing. She is just a stage hand assisting with the telling of a story.  When she does not believe that the whole story is being told, however, she is insistent on a rational answer to followup questions.

My admiration grows for her as times passes. There has certainly never been a television and radio reporter like her. Every day for years now she has been reporting what is actually happening on the street and often behind the scenes. Her interviews and interviewees never cease to interest me.    She has been at it long enough and has won enough awards to have more access than she did a few years ago, but that has not tempered or altered her reporting or interviewing at all.

Amy reports that Denver’s efforts to keep the streets clean don’t stop with moving the homeless people. The police with names tags removed have been making mass arrests of protesters, striking early and without warning apparently in order to maximize the period in which the protesters are detained and away from the streets.

The Democrats have learned from the Republicans. They have given the delegates talking point memos with instructions about how to answer specific questions and with scripted answers. An enormous amount of labor has gone into maintaining the appearance of unanimity. This of course relates in substantial part to the Republican efforts to court disaffected Clinton supporters. (The attendees have a mantra: “Differences within the party pale in comparison to differences between the parties.”)

But the threat of splintering is not just from the right edge of the party but from the left as well, principally because of Obama’s close association with the hawks of Bill Clinton’s Administration and his scaled-down talk about getting out of Iraq.

In yesteryear conventions were a time to sort out these issues as the party wrestled with its choice of a candidate. Those days are long gone, as conventions are now more like a book launching party, or rock tour launching party. But parties are fun, while Amy Goodman interviews the wait staff and activity outside the living room.

Hooray for the Iraqis!

August 26, 2008

The candidates and pundits are wrestling over who gets the credit for the troop withdrawal in Iraq and a great deal is made of an agreement about withdrawal without any serious attention to the contents of the agreement. The withdrawal agreement seemed to me to amount to little more than an opportunity for political posturing without any indication of the substance behind it, if any.

Apparently the talks have broken down in part over an item that we have been told was already a part of the agreement. The Iraquis want the departure date to be a hard deadline and that apparently is not agreeable to the U.S.  I had understood from the news reporting here that we had already agreed to this, but I guess not.

I applaud the effort by the Iraqis to have a legitimate and sovereign nation, rather than a United States protectorate. The current discussions about the withdrawal terms seem to highlight the fact that we are in Iraq in spite of the wishes of the Iraqis, not because of them. It appears that, after installing an oil executive in Afghanistan as its leader, we are having a little trouble with a puppet regime in Iraq.