The Clinton Family Can’t be Trusted – Why Do So Many Vote for Hillary Anyway?

 

Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton handily won the Mar. 1 Super Tuesday contests and seems poised to win the Democratic Party nomination.

That anyone thinks she’s worthy of the presidency considering the shadiness and mendacity of the Clinton family still astonishes me.

Year after year,  we’re told we must vote for the lesser evil. This year I’m told by Clinton surrogates that I must vote for her to stop a monster the creation of which they are at least in part to blame. “Lesser evilism” is a form of emotional blackmail that for nearly a decade has been a dry well for me – principle trumps (no pun intended) party every time for me.

That’s also perhaps the chief reason I’m also not a Democrat. I voted in the March 1st Democratic primary, which makes me one nominally speaking, but I hotly reject the designation in all other respects. I am instead a left-leaning independent who is by now a social democrat on economic issues and a cultural libertarian on everything else.

Because there are a plethora of reasons Clinton is ill-suited for the White House, there is one person in particular whom I desperately wish were still alive today to take a razor to the current Democratic frontrunner:

To help understand Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy in a historical context, I invoke the late Christopher Hitchens (1948-2011), who wrote a book originally published in 1999 titled No One Left to Lie to: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton. The book in part outlines the politics of triangulation of the Clinton administration of the 90s and also foreshadows what a second administration under Hillary Clinton might look like:

Mr. [Dick] Morris’s most valued gift to the president was his invention— perhaps I should say “coinage”— of the lucrative business known as “triangulation.” And this same business has put a new spin on an old ball. The traditional handling of the relation between populism and elitism involves achieving a point of balance between those who support you, and those whom you support. Its classic pitfalls are the accusations that fall between flip and flop, or zig and zag. Its classic advantage is the straight plea for the benefit of the “lesser evil” calculus, which in most modern elections means a straight and preconditioned choice between one and another, or A and B, or Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The most apparently sophisticated and wised-up person, who is well accustomed to saying that “there’s nothing to choose between them,” can also be heard, under pressure, denouncing abstainers and waverers for doing the work of the extreme Right. In contrast, a potential Perot voter could be identified, in 1992, by his or her tendency to believe simultaneously that (a.) the two main parties were too much alike, resembling two cozily fused buttocks of the same giant derrière, and (b.) that the two matching hemispheres spent too much time in fratricidal strife. (Mr. Perot went his supporters one better, by demanding that the United States be run like a corporation— which it already is.) But thus is the corporatist attitude to politics inculcated, and thus failed a movement for a “Third Party” which, in its turn, had failed to recognize that there were not yet two. The same ethos can be imbibed from any edition of the New York Times, which invariably uses “partisan” as a pejorative and “bipartisan” as a compliment— and this, by the way, in its “objective” and “detached” news columns— but would indignantly repudiate the corollary: namely, that it views favorably the idea of a one-party system.

Hitchens gave a couple of examples of the kind of triangulation President Clinton engaged in during the 90s:

Let me give respective examples of the practice and theory of triangulation. The practice was captured vividly in a 1999 essay by Robert Reich, Clinton’s first-term secretary of labor and one of the small core of liberal policy makers to have been a “Friend of Bill,” or FOB, since the halcyon Rhodes Scholarship days of 1969. Mr. Reich here reminisces on the Cabinet discussions he attended in 1996, when the Clinton administration decided to remove many millions of mothers and children from the welfare rolls:

“When, during his 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton vowed to “end welfare as we know it” by moving people “from welfare to work,” he presumably did not have in mind the legislation that he signed into law in August 1996. The original idea had been to smooth the passage from welfare to work with guaranteed health care, child care, job training and a job paying enough to live on. The 1996 legislation contained none of these supports— no health care or child care for people coming off welfare, no job training, no assurance of a job paying a living wage, nor, for that matter, of a job at any wage. In effect, what was dubbed welfare “reform” merely ended the promise of help to the indigent and their children which Franklin D. Roosevelt had initiated more than sixty years before.”

That is indeed how many of us remember the betrayal of the poor that year. Now here’s Reich again, detailing the triangulation aspect of the decision:
“In short, being “tough” on welfare was more important than being correct about welfare. The pledge Clinton had made in 1992, to “end welfare as we know it,” and “move people from welfare to work,” had fudged the issue. Was this toughness or compassion? It depended on how the words were interpreted. Once elected, Clinton had two years in office with a Congress controlled by Democrats, but, revealingly, did not, during those years, forward to Congress a bill to move people from welfare to work with all the necessary supports, because he feared he could not justify a reform that would, in fact, cost more than the welfare system it was intended to replace.”

This might help to explain why Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s Labor Secretary, endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders:

So, as Mr. Reich goes on to relate in excruciating detail, Mr. Clinton— who was at that stage twenty points ahead in the opinion polls— signed legislation that was more hasty, callous, short-term, and ill-considered than anything the Republicans could have hoped to carry on their own. He thus made sure that he had robbed them of an electoral issue, and gained new access to the very donors who customarily sent money to the other party. (Mr. Reich has good reason to remember this episode with pain. His own wife said to him, when he got home after the vote: “You know, your President is a real asshole.”)

Yet, perhaps because of old loyalties and his Harvard training in circumlocution, he lacks the brisk ability to synthesize that is possessed by his spouse and also by the conservative theorist David Frum. Writing in Rupert Murdoch’s Weekly Standard of February 1999, Mr. Frum saw through Clintonism and its triangulations with an almost world-weary ease:

“Since 1994, Clinton has offered the Democratic party a devilish bargain: Accept and defend policies you hate (welfare reform, the Defense of Marriage Act), condone and excuse crimes (perjury, campaign finance abuses) and I’ll deliver you the executive branch of government… Again since 1994, Clinton has survived and even thrived by deftly balancing between right and left. He has assuaged the Left by continually proposing bold new programs— the expansion of Medicare to 55 year-olds, a national day-care program, the reversal of welfare reform, the hooking up to the Internet of every classroom, and now the socialization of the means of production via Social Security. And he has placated the Right by dropping every one of these programs as soon as he proposed it. Clinton makes speeches, Rubin and Greenspan make policy; the Left gets words, the Right gets deeds; and everybody is content.”

My own politics have become much more complicated in the past 18 months so I don’t particularly like knee-jerk criticisms of people who change their minds because they have a genuine change of heart or who have been presented with new information that forces them to confront previously held opinions, positions or beliefs. I believe it encourages a sort of bitter recalcitrance that is in part responsible for the poisonous, empty-headed partisanship and broken political system under which we suffer today.

Hillary Clinton however is so protean in her non-convictions that she has evidently decided to take on the mantle of triangulator-in-chief. Clinton is a human windsock who’s candidacy reflects that the Democratic Party establishment is morally, intellectually, and ideologically bankrupt. Like her husband, she’ll say anything to get elected, and steal policy positions from Republicans and Democrats alike to keep it that way. Clinton has already shown the willingness to adopt her husband’s past practices of triangulation when she steals rhetoric from Bernie Sanders’ campaign speeches.

She was the “sanctity of marriage” politician who opposed equal marriage rights until she realized in 2013 she needed the LGBT vote. She’s the ~$200,000-a-pop Goldman Sachs speaker who suddenly wants to “get tough on Wall Street”. She was for the Trans Pacific Partnership before she was against it. She and her surrogates evidently think people are genuinely stupid enough to believe she’ll do anything to benefit working class people.

Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy perfectly represents of a lazy, sclerotic, and exploitative Democratic Party establishment which should be lit on fire and razed to the ground.

Clinton’s slipperiness isn’t lost to critics on the left and right who made use of the #WhichHillary hashtag to point out that she’ll say more or less anything to get elected.

Which Hillary did people vote for on Super Tuesday? The answer to that question may very well be quite different by the general election:

A New Group Is Trying to Help Those Who Rent Homes Give Themselves a Leg Up in the Fight for Fair Wages Housing in Houston

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Republished from Free Press Houston

Also found at egbertowillies.com

“As Houston’s population grows and developers gentrify neighborhoods, landlords are prone to raise rents and ignore the housing rights of tenants,” Socialist Alternative Houston wrote on their February 4 Facebook event page. “Now is the time for the organized efforts of tenants and activists to struggle against this trend, through counseling, education, legal complaints, and mobilization.”

Socialist Alternative Houston is a new organization, the local offshoot of an international network. They invited Houstonians to join them in a panel discussion on raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and tenants’ rights in a city that’s becoming less affordable.

I spoke with one of the organizers of the event, Matthew Wackerle (who, in the interest of disclosure, I consider a personal friend), about the “Fight for $15,” some of the struggles tenants face, and what organized and informed people might be able to do about these and other things.

 

THE “FIGHTING FOR $15/HR AND FAIR HOUSING IN HOUSTON” EVENT AND PRESENTATION WAS HOSTED BY YOUR GROUP, SOCIALIST ALTERNATIVE HOUSTON. WHO OR WHAT IS SOCIALIST ALTERNATIVE?

Socialist Alternative is a democratic socialist organization. It is the American affiliate of the Committee for a Workers’ International. We’ve existed since the late 1980’s, and we also are well-known for having one of our members elected to office. That would be [City] Council-member Kshama Sawant in Seattle, which is also our largest branch. We have, at this point, about a thousand members around the country and also new branches that are popping up all over the place.

The branch in Houston is about a month old, now. We’re probably the fastest growing organization on the left right now, I think in large part because our politics emphasize working class demands and the needs of working people. You can’t really wage that kind of struggle just by emphasizing ideology. Everything we do, we go for feasible victories that can connect the demands of the working class today to the more revolutionary demands that we might have, which is ultimately the replacement of the capitalist system with a democratic socialist model.

 

WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THE PRESENTATION ON FEBRUARY 4TH?

We approached it from both the topics of $15 an hour wages, how that can be accomplished in a city like Houston, or any city in Texas because an amendment to the Texas Minimum Wage Act does not allow cities to raise their minimum wage above the federal minimum wage. That’s actually because of Houston which, back in the late 90’s, tried to raise its minimum wage beyond the federal minimum wage. It didn’t get through, and afterwards, Texas businesses freaked out about it, went to their friends in the legislature and said “Hey, can you make sure this doesn’t happen again?” As conservative as they are, they always throw [local control] out the window when it comes to anything that benefits working people. They wanted to make sure people in these cities can’t have the right to raise to raise their minimum wages which raises serious obstacles and makes the struggle for $15 per hour different in Houston than, say, what Socialist Alternative and other organizations were able to accomplish in Seattle. You can’t have a referendum or city council vote to raise the minimum wage here. We discussed the various possibilities of raising wages here in Houston.

We also approached it by proposing the idea of organizing a tenants’ union in Houston. Tenants unions exist in other parts of the country, particularly in the industrial North or Rust-Belt areas where you have a stronger tradition of progressive politics. It’s something you don’t really see so much in the South. In fact, I can’t think of any tenants’ unions that do exist in Texas whatsoever. There is the Austin Tenant’s Council, which helps low-income tenants with litigation, with advising, it educates people on their rights as tenants, but it doesn’t really do so much when it comes to organizing tenants.

We had about 25 people show up for the meeting, and it was a really good crowd of people. It wasn’t like it was a bunch of activists.

 

THE USUAL TYPES WHO SHOW UP TO EVERYTHING ANYWAY?

Oh yeah, absolutely not. In fact, I recognized maybe one other person in the room, other than my friends who are in Socialist Alternative. So, we basically just presented on those two issues. The issue that got everyone excited was the tenants’ union idea.

 

WHAT IS A TENANTS’ UNION?

It’s not technically a union in the sense we think about labor for instance. There are very specific qualifications for an organization to be considered a labor union in the United States. The way tenants’ unions tend to operate is as an association of people who are renting homes and apartments from landlords. They might be paying dues into the organization so that it could operate in the same way people in labor  unions do when they pay union dues. It’s there to enable them to speak with one voice instead of just being on their own facing their landlords.

That might mean compelling landlords to negotiate with multiple tenants in a given area, which would include their representatives from the tenants’ union if that would be possible. That would include educating the public on their rights as tenants, and even organizing things like tenant strikes, which we haven’t seen so much in recent years in the United States but wasn’t extremely uncommon in the ’60s and 70’s.

If all of a sudden, apartment owners here in Houston would want to dramatically raise rent, or if they were not meeting the needs and concerns of tenants, if they were treating them unfairly. Even things like, under Texas law, people might think landlords are obligated to get rid of bedbugs, but they’re not. There can be a massive bedbug infestation in an apartment complex, and landlords, especially for lower income apartments, they’ll be like “Screw you. No, we’re not going to do anything about that.” But, if, say, tenants start to withhold rent — if one tenant does that, they’re probably going to get evicted, but lets say everybody does that? That kind of changes the dynamics because you can’t evict everyone at once.

It’s also to draw attention to things like that to the public eye, to shame landlords who are abusive to the rights of their tenants, the safety concerns of the tenants, and sometimes even the tenants themselves. Sexual harassment by a property manager or a landlord is something that happens all the time. Telling residents “Give me a bribe, or else,” is another thing that happens a lot. Also, just providing a forum for tenants to get together and discuss their concerns either at individual complexes or multiple complexes in the city of Houston.

Low income residents, especially, are not informed of their rights as tenants, or the rights they do know of are not exhausted, or they may not even know they have any rights whatsoever. Quite frequently, the landlord or the agent of the landlord will lie to them about what their rights are or are not. Many low-income residents of Houston are immigrants or undocumented immigrants, and while it’s totally illegal under the Fair Housing Act to do something like threaten to call ICE on them if they don’t give a bribe. That’s illegal — that’s discrimination against someone based on their nationality. It doesn’t matter whether they’re here legally or not; that is not something that a landlord is allowed to do. But they’ll do it, and they do it all the time. They may not know there’s anything they can do about it.

There are also online resources a lot of people don’t know about, like Texas Tenant Advisor, where they can go if they need to dispute a deposit that’s been taken, or they need to make a repair request. What I’ve discussed about what can happen to tenants isn’t even the tip of the iceberg.

 

WHERE CAN PEOPLE GO FOR MORE INFORMATION?

The best place to go right now, if you’re using Facebook, would be to go to our Facebook page, Socialist Alternative Houston. Another Facebook page which has just been started is the Coalition of Tenants’ Unions page, which our tenants’ union will be a part of when we get it started. It’s there to share experiences and information between the different tenants’ unions across the country. They can also just email me at mwackerle [at] gmail.com and I can put them in touch people that we have organizing here right now. We will have a separate Facebook page, website and contact information for the tenants union. I can also be reached by phone at 512-541-7769.

 

WHAT ELSE DOES SOCIALIST ALTERNATIVE HAVE GOING ON THE NEAR FUTURE?

This is going to be the focus of Socialist Alternative in Houston for the foreseeable future, and it’s going to be the one big thing that we’re going to be working on. We haven’t decided upon the next meeting date and location to discuss the next steps of building the tenants’ union, but we will be putting it out there on the internet soon, and we will let people know where they can go to attend the meeting and what kind of thing we’re going to be talking about. When we ended the meeting, we were talking about the basics. We’ve got to come up with a name, how we’re going to get the word out and we’re going to come up with official roles that people are going to have within this new tenants’ union.

Human Rights Campaign Endorses Hillary Clinton for President

Democratic primary presidential candidate Hillary Clinton picks up another major endorsement, this time from the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. The Human Rights Campaign today announced its endorsement for Democratic party frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s White House bid. HRC’s Board of Directors, comprised of 32 community leaders from across the nation, unanimously voted to endorse  Clinton. In their statement of support the HRC says “Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court historically ruled to allow all Americans, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, to marry. Many in the LGBT community fear the decision could be reversed if a conservative president is elected to office.” Today I spoke with host emeritus of KPFT’s Prison Show and veteran LGBT rights activist Ray Hill. He says for those in the LGBT community who support Clinton’s campaign, HRC’s endorsement is a matter of electability and pragmatism.

 

Is President Obama’s Executive Action on Gun Control Constitutional?

President Obama released details this week on a series of executive actions which he says will reduce gun violence. People on both sides of the issue either love it or hate it. But rather than delve into the usual arguments on gun control, I recently spoke with South Texas College of Law Constitutional expert Professor Gerald Treece on whether President Obama’s executive action on gun control is constitutionally sound.

National Apprenticeship Week – A Conversation With Houston Gulf Coast Construction and Building Trades Council Executive Secretary Paul Puente

Texas grows rapidly with Houston poised to overtake Chicago as the third largest city in the U-S. The importance of a college education is often endlessly stressed as the foundational component of a secure livelihood. Many however pursue successful careers without a traditional four-year degree in apprenticeship programs designed to train them how to build the kind of structures needed to absorb rapid population growth. November the 1st marked the beginning of National Apprentice Week, and the Houston Gulf Coast Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents careers in construction, partnered with Pasadena ISD school counselors to help spread the word about different career opportunities for Houston’s youths. Houston Gulf Coast Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary Paul Puente joined the Voices At Work crew live in the studio to talk about how people can find rewarding careers without a traditional four-year college degree and the mountains of debt which frequently accompany them.