Posts Tagged ‘Hillary Clinton’

A Blame Game

Sunday, 22 January 2017

I have previously explored the logical absurdity of insisting that those who don't vote for one of the two foremost candidates in an election are effectively voting for the other of these two candidates. That analysis could easily be generalized to include ballot measures; where abstaining from voting has sometimes been claimed to be the same as opposing a measure, and sometimes been claimed to be the same as supporting the measure.

The primary purpose of claims of these forms is to pressure someone into voting for a candidate whom — or measure which — the potential voter finds unappealing. We especially see these claims when there are actual candidates, or formulated ballot measures. But we also see that purpose at play when an election has been held and candidates and proposal for the next election are not yet identified. Some of those declaring You are now to blame for X because you did not vote for Y! are hoping to motivate the audience to tolerate whatever is demanded by the claimant's faction in that next election. An alternative would be to promise to offer something better than Y in that next election; but they are engaged in brinksmanship, threatening to take the community off a cliff if a plurality don't agree to their demands.

Other motivations for such claims in the wake of an election are simple ventilation and blame-shifting. It is frustrating to lose an election, and a blow to the ego to acknowledge that one's own faction may be largely responsible for that loss.[1]

There's another, unrecognized motivation for these claims. Although there is a very great logical distance between refusing to support one of the two major political tribes and thinking as do members of the other major tribe, it is easy enough for tribal members to disregard that distinction almost perfectly. Thus, these absurd claims that refusal to support Y is operationally the same thing as supporting X implicitly become part of a more general psychological device of treating politics as all falling along a left-right spectrum, and thereby avoiding any challenge to one's thought or behavior that cannot be dismissed from the left by pointing to the right or from the right by pointing to the left, and saying You guys are worse!, even if the challenger is not one of those guys. The challenge may even be spuriously taken as proof that, after all, the challenger were really a member of the other tribe, as he or she is not challenging them, and them alone.

[1] For example, James Henry (Jim) Webb could have beaten any of the Republican candidates for President in 2016, and it is at least plausible that Bernard (Bernie) Sanders could have beaten Donald J[oseph] Trump; but the Democratic Party chose its weakest or second-weakest candidate. (Martin Joseph O'Malley might have been a still worse choice, as his mythology of Baltimore collapsed in the face of the police murder of Freddie Carlos Gray jr.)

Not My Supergirl

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Because my father watches Supergirl, I have now seen a few episodes. I note that they were written on the presumption that Hillary Clinton would be elected President, and thus that the character of the President is played by Lynda Carter imitating the voice and speaking patterns of Ms Clinton — so far, no cackle — albeït with the character named Olivia Marsdin.

And here's what is truly telling: In this fantasy, people who do not freely support Madam President are physically assaulted by state officials. For saying that she is Not my President. a fellow has his thumb wrenched by DEO agent Alex[andra] Danvers, who later begins to beat information out of him even though he is not even so much as a suspect.

It seems not to have occurred to writers, to producers, to directors, nor to starring actors that their heroes in an imagined world guided by Hillary Clinton were doing things that would seem thuggery if done by champions of a social order directed by Donald Trump.

Yet the shoes were merely on the other feet — or, in this case, mistakenly presumed to be so.


Monday, 14 November 2016

A few years ago, in the title of an entry discussing the implications for the world of the failing health of Hugo Chávez, I alluded to a motto that ends leave a beautiful corpse[1]. That entry considered an observed practice:

When a charismatic leader dies aburptly while still in power, his or her supporters quickly begin building a mythology of what would have been accomplished had he or she lived.

I drew attention to how this mythologizing bears upon social policy:

The mythological episode of such leadership is treated as having the same standing for purposes of comparison as does historical fact. When an opponent tries to construct an argument founded on logic and general fact against policies associated with that leader, supporters treat the mythology as if it is a disproof by counter-example. What’s really happening then is that Faith is being mistaken for empirical data.

While death significantly amplifies the power of the mythologizing of a leader who was not given full opportunity to effect the programmes that he or she chose, death isn't essential for there to be some mythologizing; I noted that there was a developing narrative of what President Obama would have done had his party retained a majority in both chambers of Congress for the whole of his terms.

As it happens, charisma is also inessential, though it very much helps. And an odd substitute for direct charisma has been demonstrated. Barack Obama inflamed so much inverted narcissism on the part of his followers that a great many of them chose to treat his successor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, as if she were magnificent though she is signally lacking in charisma.

At the same time, her health is failing her, and had she been elected to the Presidency, she would not likely have served through a full term. There would have been an odd sort of race between how rapidly she did things that repelled those who had been her supporters, and when she left office. Depending upon the outcome of that race, she might have left a beautiful corpse.

But Ms Clinton has lost the race for Presidential Electors. Although a few of her supporters cling to an implausible hope that the Electoral College will not merely turn its back on the detestable Donald John Trump but will elect Clinton (as opposed to some Republican other than Trump), she will not be President. And the mythologizing is already under-way, even to the level of having Ms Clinton imagined as rather prettier than she is. [image of Kathryn McKinnon Berthold in the rôle of Hillary Rodham Clinton, singing 'Hallelujah']

One does not have to regard Mr Trump as even tolerable to resist the mythologizing and to see Ms Clinton for what she has been. She has repeatedly been one of the people causing the United States military to engage in the slaughter of innocent people, for stated goals that haven't been obtained because they haven't been obtainable. She has engaged in calculated support of domestic policies such as the War of Drugs and aggressive incarceration policies that have literally led to many thousands of deaths and to the ruin of many thousands of other lives. She and her husband have got rich exactly as brokers of political influence. She has privately spoken against some policies as corrosive while publicly supporting them — or vice versa — depending upon the expected flow of dollars and of votes. She has casually disregarded laws, in the expectation (thus far vindicated) that her connections will insulate her from being charged, let alone convicted.

If Ms Clinton is to be made into a beautiful corpse, it is rather fitting that this transformation be effected while she is undead.

[1] In full, the motto is Live fast; die young; leave a beautiful corpse. It is an elaboration of an earlier motto of live fast and die young. A popular variant is Live fast; die young; leave a good-looking corpse.

Madding Crowds

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

[An earlier version of this entry was posted to Facebook on 30 September.]

A bad leader whose leadership is accepted with little resistance is more frightening than a bad leader whose leadership is accepted grudgingly, and who knows that the acceptance is reluctant.

A sense that Trump would have the freer hand will make some people vote for Clinton who might otherwise have voted for him; a sense that Clinton would have the freer hand will make some people vote for Trump who might otherwise have voted for her. Where these particular calculations are concerned, Clinton has an actual advantage in there being a present Republican majority in both chambers of Congress, because it is expected that Congress would frustrate Clinton more than it would thwart Trump.

But a bad leader is more frightening if he or she has many loyal followers even if these followers are outside of government. The composition of the Congress could change in the upcoming election or in one to follow; and, even if it did not, a President with greater popular support can accomplish more than otherwise, even without his or her party in the majority in either chamber.

Thus, the failure of the vast majority of the most vocal supporters of each of these two candidates truthfully to acknowledge their candidate for what he or she is makes each candidate far more scary to those who are undecided or weakly decided.

Almost no one who is now undecided or weakly decided thinks that either Clinton or Trump is merely not perfect; the voters most likely to be moved see both Clinton and Trump as awful people, and see this with good reason. To be less scared of these candidates, these voters need to read and to hear acknowledgments, from supporters, of just how flawed their own candidates are. (Becoming still more scared of one candidate is not at all the same thing as becoming less scared of the other, though indeed an increase in fear of one could strengthen support for the other.)

Were these supporters more rational, they would change their pitch. But, psychologically, they cannot. Some of them are simply swept-up in the urges of inverted narcissism;[1] and, more generally, supporters cannot admit the truth to others without to some extent recognizing the truth and acknowledging it to themselves. The world would have to be faced as a bleaker and more uncertain place.

[1] Inverted narcissism (popularly confused with covert narcissism, a markèdly different condition) is the felt need to treat some individual as magnificent, even if careful consideration would show him or her not to be so. The inverted narcissist is thus a sort of complement to the narcissist, supplying the admiration that the narcissist needs for comfort. Inverted narcissism plays a hugely important rôle in politics.

With It

Thursday, 28 July 2016

I'm not a great fan of Star Trek, for reasons that I won't labor here; but at times it provides useful cultural references.

Various people have drawn a comparison between the Clinton campaign and the Borg, prompting me to put together this logo [image combining modified Hillary Clinton logo with Borg announcement] And then to make stickers and magnets with it available at CafePress. Presumably anyone voluntarily displaying one of these magnets or stickers would be doing so ironically.

(For what little it's worth, I endorse no candidate, and still will not be voting for the least of the n evils.)

Up-Date (2016:07/29): Resistance is difficult. Yester-day after-noon, I received notice from CafePress that my graphic was being investigated as a possible violation of intellectual property. This charge is absurd, in that the Clinton logo and slogan are too simple to be copyrighted and no trademark protection has been attempted; likewise for the Borg reference. And, even if the Clinton logo and slogan were intellectual property, none-the-less my use of these elements would constitute fair use. (Though it must be admitted that, since I am not satirizing the Borg, if there were intellectual property there then my use would be more questionable.)

While the image is under investigation, the items on which it was to be placed are unavailable. A decision is supposed to come within 48 hours of the announcement. Of course, someone at CafePress may make a partisan call; such actions have become commonplace. In that case, I will look for a different service through which to get things produced.

Up-Date (2016:07/29): Resistance continues. CafePress simply chose to misrepresent the design as in violation of their stated content policy. So, as I said that I would, I've begun migrating to alternative vendors. I will also be billing CafePress for my labor.

My 2½ Votes

Saturday, 27 February 2016

During the 2000 Presidential race, I was told by some Democrats that not voting for Al[bert Arnold] Gore [jr] were the same thing as voting for George W[alker] Bush. And I was told by some Republicans that not voting for Bush were the same thing as voting for Gore. Somehow it seemed that, by not voting for either man, I were casting a vote for each.

On Election Day or on the day after, one of those Republicans who'd claimed that I voted for Gore by not voting for Bush learned that I'd also refused to vote for Harry [Edson] Browne (the Libertarian candidate) and that Republican then declared That's even worse! For it to be worse would mean that I'd effectively done even more voting for Gore, though perhaps not a whole further vote. I didn't interact on that day with any Democrats, so I don't know whether they would have creditted me with still further support of Bush in my refusal to vote for Browne. But it seemed as if, by not voting for anyone, I had voted more than twice.

Well, enough of that nonsense. People who make such claims don't know much about the mathematics of voting, and either just lack mathematical sense in general, or allow their emotions to overwhelm their intellects.

My refusal to vote in Presidential elections, which predated that race and has continued since, doesn't stem from resignation, from laziness, from apathy, nor from ignorance.

It comes in part from my extreme reluctance to support one evil in an attempt to stop another. I won't vote for a candidate unless I think him or her truly fit to be President, and I've not seen such a candidate in decades. Browne, for example, represented a watering-down of classical liberalism, when a pure expression was needed (as remains the case).

Further, when it comes to the two major parties, I am acutely aware that, in most of these elections, one candidate doesn't win so much as the other loses; the winners aren't loved by the typical voter; rather, the principal opponent of each is detested. Yet the victor usually claims a mandate; even when he barely squeaks past the other creep and even when voters give the other party a Congressional majority.

We get these detestable candidates because the institutional structure is corrupt at a deep, infrastructural level. But those who vote, even for the loser, are demonstrating some hope, however faint, in the process, and from that demonstration legitimacy is persuasively claimed for that structure.

It is, of course, difficult to sort-out who fails to register to vote from dissatisfaction and who from lack of concern; likewise for those who register but do not go to the polls. But I am registered, and I do go to the polls. I take and submit a ballot. But I do not vote for a Presidential candidate. I vote on the issues that I feel that I properly understand, and I occasionally vote for a local candidate. It would be absurd to dismiss people like me as uninterested. Our numbers are presently tiny, but our message is far more clear than would be votes for whomever we thought the least objectionable candidate.

In the up-coming Presidential election, the major parties are going to offer the very worst candidates that they have in my lifetime. We didn't get here by virtue of people who didn't vote for nominees, but by virtue of those who did.

Mating Game

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The media is buzzing with the meme that Barack Obama has chosen or is on the cusp of choosing his Vice-Presidential running-mate.

I think that Obama has taken far longer than was in his interest to make this choice. Although it developed that there would be a second-choice advantage for the two major-party Presidential candidates in their selection of running-mates, each had to make a selection before or during their respective conventions, and the Democrats had already scheduled their convention before that of the Republicans. While there may have been some tiny hope that the McCain camp would toss-away the advantage, the principal effect of Obama's delay has been to allow Hillary Clinton to hold onto attention that would otherwise have gone to his choice of running mate (on the assumption that it were not her). And the Clintons plan to exploit the Convention as much as possible for their own aggrandizement, not-withstanding the costs to the Obama campaign in particular and to the Democratic Party more generally.

Hillary Clinton might be Obama's running-mate. Certainly, if he delays until the convention is under-way, the Clintons will do everything in their power to make it seem as if she has a sort of right to that spot. But Obama will look even more like Just Another Politician if he selects her. Perhaps the buzz about him nearing announcement of a running-mate comes from an awareness on the part of his camp that he needs to head-off the convention.

He has been encouraged to select a Yeehaw as a running-mate, the notion being that this would balance the ticket; I think that it would be a major mistake. A integral aspect of Obama's appeal is that he's not a Yeehaw.

Part of the reason that the Democrats have been comparing Obama to John F. Kennedy is that they want to look past the last three Democratic Presidents — Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Lyndon Johnson. There had been a sort of forced nostalgia for Bill Clinton, but once Obama came over the horizon, Democrats became more willing to look critically at Clinton and at his Presidency; Jimmy Carter was an even more incompetent than is the current President; and Johnson is largely remembered for the Viet-Nam War. Looking past those Presidents to Kennedy is looking past three Yeehaws (the most distant a Cowboy-Yeehaw) to a Yankee. It doesn't do much good to point-out that Kennedy chose a Yeehaw as his running-mate, 'cause that running-mate was Johnson, later one of the Democratic Presidents past whom these Democrats now want to look. And the highest profile Democrat Yeehaw under some consideration this time was John (Epic Fail) Edwards.

Meanwhile, for the last 14 or more years, the public faces of the Republicans have been largely Yeehaws — men such as Jesse Helms, Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott, and of course G.W. Bush. (Karl Rove is arguably a faux Yeehaw, but he manages to sound like one.) Democrats are alienated from these Yeehaws because they are Republicans, and Democrats, Republicans, and Independents are alienated from these figures because by a great many measures they have been very great failures. When Republicans look back, it is to Reagan, a man who liked to play the Cowboy, but who was raised in the Midwest and rose to importance in California.

As far as balancing the ticket goes, Obama isn't in a great spot. While many Yeehaws really themselves don't want a Yeehaw, they also don't want their nose rubbed in the political mess. Obama might do best to choose a Cowboy, as Yeehaws tend to blur the distinction (hence, for example, the conflation of American country music with that of the Old West), though the rest of the country doesn't place Montana or Arizona in the South.

McCain, who has long positioned himself as a Cowboy, can more easily balance his ticket. Regionally, he can choose a Yankee or a Yankee-Midwesterner. He probably shouldn't choose a plain-vanilla Midwesterner, as then his ticket will be mocked as white-bread.

Conscripted Campaign Contributors

Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Hillary Clinton Asks To Keep Donor Money for 2012 by Jason Horowitz of the New York Observer
Hillary Clinton's campaign is sending out letters to donors asking permission to roll a $2,300 contribution to Clinton's 2008 general election coffers to her 2012 senate election fund instead of offering a refund.

Famously, HDRC has a large campaign debt, which she and her husband are demanding Obama help retire. I'm not sure, then, how it is that she would be in a position to offer refunds. In any event, she is asking that money which would otherwise be refunded be contributed towards her 2012 Senate campaign, instead of being used to retire her debt.

It isn't really plausible that HDRC will pay-off her Presidential campaign debts in-full; instead, creditors will receive pennies-on-the-dollar, with the Clintons representing such settlements as-if they are payment in-full. If the Clintons channel monies that could have gone to the repayment of debt instead to her 2012 Senate campaign, then those creditors will in effect have been compelled to contribute towards that Senate campaign.

I'm not voting for her because she's a bitch!

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

In a protected entry, an LJ Friend linked to

a couple of days ago. She didn't give her own assessment of the article, beyond saying that it was interesting. I've decided to make a few comments on it.

The principal thesis of the article seems to be that a significant source of support for Obama amongst social democratic (progressive) males is really founded in sexism. Now, I've seen plenty of hypocrisy amongst social democrats, but consider that Margaret Thatcher became the leader of the British Conservative Party in 1975 and their Prime Minister in 1979, and served until 1990. Do we really want to even suggest that sexism is going to be more of a determinant amongst Democratic voters in 2008 than it was amongst British Conservative voters in 1975, or than it was amongst Britons more generally in 1979?

There are a few revealing passages in the article that I think merit special attention:

Valenti continued, Because their friends were not being specifically sexist, or saying something that was tangibly misogynistic, they were having a hard time talking about the sexism of it. Valenti confirmed that this Feminine Mystique-y problem that has no name was familiar to her. I spoke to a guy friend who said, You're being ridiculous. I'm not not voting for her because she's a woman; I'm not voting for her because she's a bitch! He could not see the connection between the two things at all. Valenti said he explained away his comment by declaring, I mean a bitch in the sense that she's not good on this or that issue.
People use the word bitch to mean a number of things. But when Hillary's opponents call her a bitch, they don't typically mean that she is tough in a way with a peculiarly significant relationship to her sex (distinctive or inappropriate); they instead mean that she is sanctimonious, hypocritical, and vicious. (If you want a clear sense of these perceptions, then read The Tall Tale of Tuzla by Christopher Hitchens in Slate or the milder A Hillary Clinton Presidency by Carl Bernstein at CNN.)

A couple of paragraphs later,

Valenti continued, I pinpoint sexism for a living. You'd think I'd be able to find an example. And I hate to rely on this hokey notion that there's some woman's way of knowing, and that I just fucking know. But I do. I just know. When it comes to feminism, she continued, so much proof is required to convince someone that sexism exists, even when it's explicit and outrageous. So when it's subdued or subtle, you don't want to talk about it.
Note the epistemology here. She cannot produce any evidence, but she's insisting that the attitude of these men must be sexist. And she acts as if the reluctance of some people to accept even the plainest of evidence is an excuse for making a charge with no evidence. I would suggest that if Ms Valenti perceives a difference of opinion whose cause must be sexism, and she cannot produce evidence of sexism on one side, then perhaps she ought to be looking for it on the other side.

The article is very right about one thing: A great many social democrats — and a great many people who are not social democrats — have developed unreasonable expectations for Obama:

You already see this idealistic longing projected on Obama, Bruch said. People talk about him as a secular messiah who will bring us political salvation. There's no sense of what is plausible.
Unless McCain makes missteps extraordinary even for a Republican, he will win the general election. And the sorts of domestic programmes and foreign policy that Obama has been advocating would bear very bitter fruit, in some cases very quickly, causing the nation to lurch to the political right.