They’re All Neocons Now



It’s been a long time since I’ve written this kind of post. As regular readers know, I like to try to capture the big picture. I’ve some small talent for seeing the forest and the trees. I’ve been largely silent on matters of politics because I needed time to see these new trends in motion. As I said a couple of months ago, nobody knew what was going to happen with Obama precisely because nobody knew that much about him or his core group. I didn’t see the point in carrying on with habitual criticism just to make myself feel better, or to force a sense of vindication. I figured the proof would materialize or not, and I’d take it from there.

Among the diverse group of Disaffected Clinton Supporters’ complaints about Obama last year was that his post-partisan rhetoric was evidence of his naiveté, or worse, evidence of his collusion with whatever corrupt power structure he had access to. We worried publicly what it would costs the Democratic Party, and thus its constituencies, when the neoconic, theoconic, and Wall Street cons he courted relentlessly last year came a’ calling.

And they have. They have done precisely what so many of us predicted. They have used the post-partisan rhetoric to plead for the indefensible, and gotten it. Right on cue, the financial sector has engaged in another money-grab, and it hasn’t help. Again.  Meanwhile, post-partisanship has meant that real criminals who served in positions of power and who abused the public trust have been able to walk away, and are as we speak working to transform their party using Obama’s post-partisan rhetoric so they can re-gain power and continue on with their work of dismantling this once great nation.  Thank you, Jimmy Carter.

The problem, of course, is not with post-partisanship itself. It’s with the application of it to the wrong people. Power players, political players, powerful criminals, Wall Street barons–these are the wrong people. The people who need post-partisanship are the American people, the little people who work for their money and don’t try to exploit or manipulate others, and aren’t greedy for more than their share. Those people need a different kind of post-partisanship, one that explains to them how utterly corrupt their elected leaders are, and how they’ve been so exploited and manipulated now by both parties that the truth is unrecognizable.

It has been depressing, to say the least, to watch as my former party and their supporters have done exactly what I worried they would do: internalized the neoconic model. Continue reading

R.I.P. Ashley

Ashley, Micheal, and their baby

Ashley, Micheal, and their baby

When I was but a young pup, age 13, my sister gave birth to bouncing baby boy named Micheal. I didn’t quite know what to think of Micheal, his birth being the product of so many “incorrect” social scenarios–my sister was a teenage mother married to an abusive man who attempted to kill her and her baby, and who later abandoned them both. We quickly came to love Micheal for his indefatigable spirit, intelligence, and bright smile. Because I was so young myself and my mother half-raised him, Micheal is like a brother to me.

19 short years later he repeated his mother’s pattern and he and his mate, Ashley, a smart, bright girl with similar values learned they were pregnant and subsequently tied the knot. The girl they produced from their union is pictured above. I will not name her for privacy reasons. Tonight, Ashley, just 23 years old, died. We do not currently know the cause of death. Her health has been compromised for some time now, and there is some question as to the manner of her death. An autopsy will be performed tomorrow, and hopefully we will know more when it is complete.

I want to remember Ashley because she was a beautiful, headstrong girl, and an excellent mother. The baby pictured above is now 4 years old and is a very bright, articulate, strong little girl herself, and Ashley is at least half the reason why. As the primary care giver of my great-niece she has diligently coached her into gaining invaluable life skills, and has kept that premie baby thriving in this world. The baby is far beyond her years in accumulated knowledge and wisdom, which is the result of both her parent’s dedication and awareness at such a young age. Having Ashley and Micheal as her parents has been a gift despite the prophesies laid against them by a world that assumed they would fail from the get-go.

To Micheal, my nephew, I want to say that I love you and I am so so sorry for your loss. I cannot begin to imagine the pain you must be feeling. I will not offer you false promises of recovery, but I will pledge to stand by your side and help you in any way I can. I offer the same to my great-niece, that beautiful girl in whom I see so much promise. And to Ashley I say thank you. Thank you for leaving your endelible stamp alongside Micheal’s on your baby girl. May you rest in peace.

What Every Woman Should Know: Women’s Political Firsts Sampler

Despite scattered examples throughout history, such as Queens Elizabeth I and Victoria, women have only recently been afforded any opportunity to participate meaningfully in politics. In America it was not until 1916 that a woman was elected to national office, and scant few examples of local political women preceded Jeannette Rankin’s 1916 victory in Montana. Except in a very few cases, American women’s political participation begins after they won the right to vote with the 19th Amendment.

But still barriers remained. I still recall with a fair amount of anger listening to younger women comment for years about how they could not respect Hillary Clinton because her accomplishments were built on her husband’s. Never mind that that isn’t even true, and it wouldn’t take two seconds of awareness to figure that out. That I can forgive. What angered (and continues to anger me) about those comments is that for generations married women with political connections where the only women who could get elected. These are the role models that Hillary Clinton grew up with.  It’s similar to the deriding Sarah Palin had to contend with because she was a beauty queen in an era when beauty contests where one of the few avenues to getting a college education for women who had to pay their own tuition.

These women did not create the patriarchal rules under which we have lived and continue to live, they have merely paid the price for our ignorance of our own history. That is one of the many reasons the historical agenda exists. We have to have context so that we can suspend that needless judgment, and appreciate what we have come to accomplish. Our achievements in the context of time–less than 100 years after Rankin and the 19th Amendment–are immense. We fight on, keeping the women in this Sampler in our minds, aware of the debt we owe to the past and future.

Jeanette Pickering Rankin (1880-1973, R-Montana) The first woman elected to congress, Rankin, a Republican, was elected before women had the right to vote in federal elections. She was also the first women of any western Democracy to be elected to a national legislative body. She achieved this feat after working tirelessly on behalf of women’s suffrage, and spearheading a campaign to bring the vote to Montana women, which was won in 1914. Read more about her her

Mary Teresa Hopkins Norton (1875-1951, D-New Jersey) One of the first women elected to the House after passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, Norton was the first to be elected from an eastern state (NJ) and the first female Democrat who was not preceded by her husband. Continue reading

Sick and Tired

Washington, D.C. 1964

Washington, D.C. 1964

Fannie Lou Hamer was born and lived in Mississippi, where she was given a scant education and worked from the age of six. Hamer was a leader in the Civil Rights movement. She was also the twentieth child born to her mother.

While still a sharecropper on a plantation in Mississippi, Hamer became politically active in 1962 at the age of 45 when she attended her first civil rights meeting. Her passions were enflamed and she answered the call, going with 17 people to register to vote at the Sunflower County Courthouse. They were stonewalled for the entire business day, their bus was pulled over on the way home and the driver was arrested for “driving a bus of the wrong color.” Hamer was subsequently fired from her job as a sharecropper, and she lost her home in the process. She received a $9,000 water bill for a house that had no running water. Her daughter and husband were arrested and she was shot at and threatened when racists targeted her house. She was relentlessly harassed but stood her ground.

She received no protection from the police or City Hall, despite repeated requests. She was later arrested and beaten severely twice, assaults which caused serious nervous and kidney damage. After the first beating the Justice Department pressed charges against five police officers, but the trial was a mockery of American justice and all five were acquitted.

Hamer ran for Congress in 1964, though she was defeated in the Primary. Of the 68% black population in her voting district, estimates put registered voter numbers at 8% because of the obstacles put before black registrants. During that election season she helped form the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party, which dispatched a party of black delegates to attend the Democratic National Convention that year where they protested the whites-only Mississippi delegation. As speaker for the party, she spoke before the Credentials Committee at the convention, which was nationally televised. As a result of the hearing, two black Mississippi delegates were seated and the rest were admitted as honorary guests. The Democratic Party created a new rule that disallowed seating delegates from states where anyone was illegally denied the right to vote. Continue reading

American “Criminal” Women

Mary Eugenia Jenkins Surratt (1817-1865)

Mary Surratt was the first woman executed in America.

Surrat was hung, along with three men, on July 7, 1865.

Surrat was hung, along with three men, on July 7, 1865.

On April 14, 1865, just days after the end of the Civil War, John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln. His co-conspirator, Lewis Powell, stabbed (but did not kill) Secretary of State William Seward, third in line for the presidency. Another conspirator, George Atzerodt, was dispatched to kill Vice President Johnson, but failed to even attempt his assignment. Mary Surratt was convicted and hung in the fallout after that fateful day.

The players involved in the assassination of President Lincoln were associated by Mary Surratt’s son via the boarding house she ran, which she supported herself with after her husband died in 1864. During the war she had made two business trips to areas of southern sympathy, which was later used as evidence against her. These two “facts” comprised the sum of the government’s case against her; she had private conversations in her home and traveled to conduct business.

Surratt’s cowardly son fled to Canada before he could be captured, but returned and stood trial in 1867, two years after his mother had been executed for his crime. Mary Surratt’s trial was a Military Commission, and was prosecuted overzealously in the case of this lone female.  Some scholars have speculated about suppression of evidence that would have cleared her. She was denied the opportunity to testify on her own behalf, and some of the men involved were intimidated into falsely testifying against her. To add insult to injury, the lawyers assigned to defend her learned of her conviction through the newspaper.

Surratt was hung, along with four “accomplices,” while four others were given life sentences. President Johnson suspended the writ of habeas corpus for her, preventing her appeal. Before the sentence was carried out, Lewis Powell, who was considered the “brains” of the operation, pleaded for Surratt’s release and proclaimed her innocence. Continue reading

It’s Geithner, Stupid

New York Times Photo

New York Times Photo

Like, frickin’ duh.

Okay, what do we know? Geithner has been nearly universally panned as bad for–you guessed it–business. How do you address these concerns while saving face? You attack something you once defended so you can manufacture a crisis that will allow you to get rid of the guy all the money makers hate.

Seriously. Do the homework. What did Obama do even before he was sworn in? Why, he visited Congress and told them that, despite public outcry, if they even remotely tried to reign in executive pay, Obama would veto the bill. He was very clearly not on board with limiting executive pay. What changed, you might ask?

Geithner’s popularity with business leaders. Oh, and maybe he finally “got” executive compensation and public opinion. But I would put money down that Geithner was it, and that we’ll see him resign because he was onboard with his boss’s well-known, business-friendly agenda.

I figured this out tonight after reading this article and catching the little trial balloon they sent up at the bottom of the lede:

WASHINGTON – Talking tougher by the hour, livid Democrats confronted beleaguered insurance giant AIG with an ultimatum Tuesday: Give back $165 million in post-bailout bonuses or watch Congress tax it away with emergency legislation. Republicans declared the Democrats were hardly blameless, accusing them of standing by while the bonus deal was cemented and suggesting that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner could and should have done more. While the White House expressed confidence in Geithner, it was clearly placing the responsibility for how the matter was handled on his shoulders.

Bolding mine. You mark my words: this balloon will lift off if business responds positively. Watch the markets tomorrow to measure Geithner’s fate. The right response and it’s over for him.

Next question is, are they trying to pave the way for who they really wanted: Larry Summers? Or is Summers throwing Geithner under the buss to get what he really wanted?

What Every Woman Should Know About the 19th Amendment

What Every Woman Should Know is a bi-weekly series on American Women’s History. The series is weekly in March, which is Women’s History Month. This article has been edited from an original version, which was posted here.

This article has been cross-posted to The New Agenda.

The 19th Amendment

The final push for elective franchise for women is one of the most riveting tales in American history. As Harriot Stanton Blatch said after the Amendment was ratified:

All honor to women, the first disenfranchised class in history who, unaided by any political party, won enfranchisement by its own effort alone and achieved the victory without the shedding of a drop of human blood.

Advancing from the West

For the first 15 years of the 20th century, suffragists had been working on a state-by-state strategy to win universal suffrage. The idea was to campaign for suffrage using new Western states, many of which granted women the right to vote in state elections, as examples to build a consensus state by state to allow women to vote. Once all the states allowed women to vote, surely the national government would have to concede the national vote as well, they reasoned. They were successful in getting suffrage for women in many western states before the final push came, and it is fair to say that the hard work of these western women in some ways helped make passage of the amendment possible.

Alice Paul and Lucy Burns thought the state-by-state plan would take too long, and the only way to effectively accomplish the rest of the goals of the women’s movement was to achieve full, national, and immediate suffrage rights for women. Radicalized in England under the influence of Emmeline Pankhurst, Alice Paul returned to the United States in 1910 to join the fight for women’s equality. Six years later, frustrated by American Suffragist’s state-by-state strategy, Paul and Burns formed the National Women’s Party. With the NWP they began to employ some of the more radical tactics they had learned in England. They staged parades, mass meetings, and hunger watches, among other, sometimes even criminal, undertakings. The parades are what most people remember, and the image that made its way into the history books. Continue reading