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The Amazing Contortions of 'Progressives' for Hillary Clinton

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 21/03/2016 Russ Belville
PRETZEL © Getty Images PRETZEL

My piece "The Problem With Hillary, Chez, Is I Don't Vote Republican" has gotten more attention than almost anything else I've ever written. In particular, one "progressive" blogger named Milt Shook, who writes "PCTC - Please Cut the Crap" in Tucson, took me to task:

You know, those who claim they will vote for Bernie, and if he loses, they won't vote for Hillary. These are not 'progressives,' folks, no matter what they've convinced themselves of. I agree with Chez; if you can't see a huge difference between Hillary and either Drumpf or Cruz, or even Mitt Romney, should he emerge from a contested convention, you have to be an idiot.
There is just one problem. She's actually nothing like any Republican out there, especially those in the presidential race; certainly not Drumpf or Cruz.

Well, thanks for reading my article, Milt. I'm always honored when centrist Republicans attack my writing.
You make many attempts to pin me to a strawman argument: that I think Hillary-> is similar to Drumpf or Cruz. Let's dispense with that immediately. Ted Cruz is a truly horrifying individual who believes in Christian Dominion. I'll throw you a bone -- if the election is against Cruz, I might have to vote GOP Lite.
But Drumpf? He's a carnival barker, a side show, and a reality star all rolled into one. If you believe Hillary-> merely said "superpredators" and "one man one woman" and voted for Iraq War and PATRIOT ACT twice because of political considerations, why would you not extend that thinking to Drumpf merely trolling his rabid Republican base?
Drumpf, if you haven't noticed, is also nothing like the current GOP. He's actually defended Planned Parenthood three times that I can think of. He's criticized the disastrous NAFTA, CAFTA, TPP trade deals that Hillary-> can't seem to get enough of until Bernie forces her to flip-flop for political considerations. He's rightfully excoriated the Dubya Admin for letting 9/11 happen on their watch, destroying our foreign policy with the Iraq War, and crashing our economy. Drumpf's barking on gay marriage or abortion is all theater for the knuckledraggers who vote in GOP primaries -- he's a rich celebrity who's primarily been registered Democrat most of his life.
So, when you tell me I'm an idiot given the choice of Hillary-> or Drumpf not to choose Hillary->, I'm not so sure. With Hillary->, I know exactly what I'm going to get: a lying panderer who'll ask for the middle and accept less, who'll engage every chance at regime change she can get, who'll enact cosmetic reforms to finance that will allow banks to continue their shenanigans, who'll make tiny improvements to ACA (Romneycare -- gov't forcing me to be a customer of megaprofitable health care corporations that charge 3x what any other country's health care costs) but will never threaten Big Health's bottom line, who'll reschedule cannabis to Schedule II to lock in Big Pharma's ability to patent and profit from it, who'll nominate business-friendly SCOTUS justices, who'll promote fracking, and who'll always be checking polls before setting principle.
With Drumpf, I don't know what I'm going to get. But I know it won't be Hitler or Mussolini, as the Hillary-> supporters want me to believe. (When I see folks pushing wheelbarrows full of dollars to buy a loaf of bread and white people are 78 out of 80 Americans, I'll accept a Hitler comparison.) Will he be as bad as Nixon... and create the EPA and open up China? Will he be as bad as Reagan... and raise taxes on the rich and give amnesty to illegals? Will he be as bad as Dubya... and help stop the spread of AIDS in Africa and... well, all right, Dubya was pretty bad.
But most of all, Milt, and the main point of the article you seemed to miss, is that I believe the coronation of Hillary-> is the final act in the trilogy that cements in the corporate ownership of the Democratic Party. You keep saying the GOP Lite hasn't existed in 30 years; I disagree -- it's been in existence since the election of Hillary->'s husband. Or did you forget NAFTA, the Telco Act, the Crime Bill, Welfare Reform, and killing Glass-Steagall? How about Obama's drone warfare and kill lists, letting torturers go free, killing public option health care, letting criminal banksters go free, TPP, and more deportations and medical marijuana raids than any other president in history? Were those the acts of a pro-labor, pro-First-Amendment, pro-justice, pro-safety-net, pro-financial-accountability Democratic Party? Or was that the GOP Lite party?
I find it telling that in trying to defend against my article, you want to pick apart six points of 25, saying in essence, if you think Hillary->'s for that, what do you think the GOP is for, while skipping the other 19, most of which put Hillary-> on the same side of an issue as the Republicans. You say my points are "Fantasies", yet you open up point number one with a fantasy of your own (emphasis mine):
Once again, I have to ask, has this guy been in a coma since 2001? Republicans -- the current version -- do this, not Democrats. There is nothing in the Clinton campaign that would indicate this [supporting regime change] is a plan of hers. She voted for the Iraq War, but she also apologized for it and said she would never do it again. You know who would love to Iraq again? You know who else has promised that they WOULD send troops into and who promise to "carpet bomb" areas of the Middle East to enact regime change in Daesh-controlled areas? Drumpf AND Cruz. NOT Hillary.

Nothing? First of all, you don't get to just wave away her Iraq War vote because she said "I'm sorry." Bernie saw and heard the same evidence and made the right call. To ask me to put my trust over the military to someone George W. Bush could fool is astounding.
Nothing? Except that "We came, we saw, he died"push of hers, against the best military advice Obama was getting, to take out Khaddafi in Libya.
Nothing? Except that call of hers to establish a no-fly zone in Syria and push for the unilateral US ouster of Bashar al Assad, risking war with the Russians.
Nothing? Except her support for the overthrow of the democratically-elected government of Honduras.
And let's see, since 2001, "Republicans -- the current version -- do this, not Democrats." So since Libya and Honduras happened while Obama was president, I guess you're agreeing with me, Milt, that the current DNC president is a Republican.
Here's Milt defending Hillary->'s recent conversion to the pro-gay marriage camp (emphasis mine):
I really hate to break it to this idiot, but the total acceptance of gay marriage as a right is even fairly new for many progressives. I remember walking with a very prominent GAY progressive friend through DuPont Circle in DC and we both agreed that marriage was probably too much to ask for, and that was 2003. The change was very rapid and took everyone by surprise. For a politician to have supported it ten years ago would have been career suicide.

It's pretty telling from a Hillary-> supporter that he'd discuss a right as "too much to ask for". That's another one of our points, Milt. People with principles who believe in a right never think it's too much to ask for -- it's exactly what you ask for, then you may accept half-measures like civil unions in the negotiations to get to that right. If you're a progressive, you don't take the principle you believe in off the table in the beginning (gay marriage or Medicare for all) and start your negotiation in the center and eventually capitulate to the center-right.
See, you don't realize that I wrote for a very prominent LGBT blog from 2006-2009, and all us progressives there were very full-throatedly condemning the separate-but-equal half-measure of civil unions and calling for marriage equality. Hillary-> was shilling for Bill's Defense of Marriage Act all through her run for Senate in 2000. Hillary->'s "one man one woman" speech was in 2004. She was still on that civil unions fence through the 2008 campaign.
You know who actually was committing career suicide by supporting gay rights throughout a thirty-plus-year career? Bernie Sanders. He was signing Gay Pride Day resolutions in Burlington in 1983. In 1995 and 1996, Sanders was opposing Bill Clinton's DADT and DOMA.
Bernie's not perfect on the issue, either, but if you're giving Hillary-> the pass for being pro-gay but restrained by political reality, then that pass goes for Bernie as well. He came to support gay marriage in 2009, when four states had legalized gay marriage, not 2013, after 16 states had done so and it was political safe.
Then, when you try to defend Hillary-> on the medical marijuana issue, you conveniently change the topic:
Any politician running a national campaign who embraces the "legalize marijuana" meme will lose a few states they probably should win. It's not a huge issue right now, although we can all see the groundswell coming. And Hillary has shown no desire to step up marijuana law enforcement. Do you know who has promised to continue the "Drug War" in its current form with zero changes? Drumpf and Cruz and the entire GOP. They have also promised to enforce federal law in the states that have legalized it and to crack down on medical marijuana.

I had pointed out that Hillary->, like Republicans, "needs more research" on medical marijuana. I didn't mention legalization for recreational purposes at all.
Milt, you might not know it, but there are now more people living in medical marijuana states (with Pennsylvania's addition, 51%) than not. Medical marijuana states make up 273 electoral votes. Opinion poll support for medical marijuana is in the 70%-90% range nationwide.
And again, Milt, you ascribe demonization to Drumpf on this issue that doesn't exist. Drumpf is actually "a hundred percent" in support of medical marijuana. "I know people that have serious problems," Drumpf told O'Reilly, "it really, really does help them."
Even Ted Cruz said at CPAC 2015, "I actually think this [Colorado's marijuana legalization] is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called 'the laboratories of democracy. If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that's their prerogative. I personally don't agree with it, but that's their right."
So the two leading Republicans support a states' rights on medical marijuana that would allow the 24 current medical marijuana states to continue their programs. The most Hillary-> has said, besides it "needs more research" (because 29,318 published studies and 4,753 years of medical use aren't enough) is that she'd reschedule marijuana from Schedule I (like heroin and acid) to Schedule II (like cocaine and meth) that would actually harm those 24 states' medical marijuana programs by bringing cannabis into the realm of FDA/DEA controlled substances and prescriptions.
The 25 "reasons" this guy posts are pure fiction and make absolutely no sense. Hillary is against the TPP and Drumpf and Cruz are both for it.

You mean the TPP Hillary-> called "the gold standard" and only rejected once polls showed her it was unpopular?
#WhichHillary do I believe? The one in the past who said war in Iraq was necessary, black kids are "super predators", marriage is between one man and one woman, and the TPP is the gold standard, or today's Hillary-> who says her Iraq vote was a mistake, calling black kids that name was wrong, giving support to gay marriage opponents was part of her evolution, and lauding TPP wasn't what she really meant?
Why should I believe she really means it when she opposes TPP? Why shouldn't I believe that she'll press forward with TPP, make a few small changes, and suddenly declare that it finally "meets her standards"?
Hillary isn't so much for fracking as she is for realizing that the current strategy, in which expansion of drilling is actually causing us to become more energy independent, which has thus far led to a huge expansion of alternative fuels development. Perhaps you haven't noticed, but the increased tax revenues from the increased drilling have been going to solar and wind development, to the point that coal is on the verge of being completely displaced.

Isn't so much "for fracking"?!? The woman made the State Department into the #1 marketer of fracking worldwide!
Fracking isn't necessary to make wind and solar viable - energy storage is. Fracking destroys natural fresh groundwater sources and has caused hundreds of earthquakes in Oklahoma where they rarely get any. Ah, but what's some flammable tap water and destroyed farmland compared to "lower gas prices are also giving the poor and working classes a break."
...most of the complaints about Hillary coming from this asshole are smears propagated by the "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" and progressives used to fight against that shit.

Yes, I remember when the VRWC made up that tale about sniper fire in Bosnia out of whole cloth. Remember when the VRWC invented those $225,000 speeches leading to millions in net worth derived from the banksters she so successfully told to "cut it out?" Remember how the VRWC made up all those lies about Hillary-> supporting TPP, DOMA, regime change, everything else I've listed? Yeah, it's all the fault of Republican hatchet men; Hillary-> didn't do a single thing to deserve progressive scorn.
It's this sort of paranoid excusing of Hillary->'s obvious campaign flaws that left "progressives" like you, Milt, unable to comprehend what an electoral disaster is in the making in a Hillary-> v. Drumpf election. Every weakness of hers plays into a strength of his. She'll be three sentences in to a historically flip-floppy defense of Drumpf's attack on, say, Travelgate, and he'll be off and running on six other attacks before she's finished explaining. She'll say Wall Street's $225,000 speaking fees couldn't buy her and he'll accurately note he paid much less to buy her to come to his wedding.
This is the Anti-Establishment Election, and her running as the third Obama term isn't going to play well with people whose wages have stagnated while Obama's enriched the 1%. Hillary->'s unlikeability and untrustworthy numbers are records for any Democrat who's ever run, and that's not all a VRWC's fault. She will drive GOP turnout like nobody else could, which is already record GOP turnout in the primary season.
Like it or not, about a third of us Bernie supporters will not vote for her, period. You can call us idiots and assholes, but it doesn't change that fact. Meanwhile, nearly every Clinton supporter I meet says they'd gladly support Bernie (because they'd get to vote for an honest Democrat). Doesn't that tell you something very important about your candidate's ability to win?
There is nothing about Hillary Clinton that even remotely resembles anything current Republicans stand for.

And there's that strawman. I'm not saying Hillary-> is a current Republican. Hillary-> is a moderate Republican, somewhere to the right of Dwight Eisenhower. If you want to be honest and boil your support down to "You gotta pick the moderate Republican over the fascist Republican", that's fine, but don't try to convince me Hillary-> Clinton is any sort of principled progressive unless the polls show it's safe for her to be one.
My point is that rewarding the Democratic Party for giving us our fifth straight corporate centrist (counting Gore and Kerry) as a nominee means that the future holds for us even more corporate centrists. Why should the Democratic Party even bother to listen to its progressive/liberal base if they can win elections without them? That's the point of #BernieOrBust -- holding fast to our end of the negotiation for the soul of the Democratic Party in the long term, not just one single election.
If you want to elect yet another DNC centrist "Democrat", Milt, who'll oversee the next Middle East regime change, the next banking bubble bursting, the further enrichment of Big Health & Pharma, the solidification of a pro-business SCOTUS, and the further rightward slide of the Democratic Party from its base of labor unions, LGBT, young, and minorities, go right ahead, just don't flatter yourself with the pious notion that you're doing anything "progressive".
I'll be writing in "Bernie Sanders" (assuming he's not nominated, which is far from a done deal, no matter what the mainstream bought-by-Bill's-Telco-Act media tells you) so Debbie Wasserman Schultz can count up exactly how many more votes the party would have received by not nominating for the presidency a shapeshifting neo-con warhawk currently under FBI investigation for violating IT security protocols she herself set for the State Dept.
One final thing, Milt. The fact that you, and Chez, and so many others feel the need to call us names and excoriate us for sticking to our principles by not voting for Hillary-> tells me you're really afraid she could lose this election to Drumpf->. If he's really the proto-Hitler and she's really the next coming of FDR, it should be an epic landslide, right? There'd be no fear whatsoever of any #BernieOrBust movement because it would be irrelevant. It certainly wouldn't rise to the occasion of dedicating 2,400 words to calling me an "idiot", an "asshole", a "genius", a "moron", a "petulant child", "some tool", "asinine", "sure as hell not a Rhodes Scholar" (y'know, like Bill, that great progressive champion), who "know[s] exactly dick" about politics.
No, the reason y'all have to go all ad hominem on us #BernieOrBust voters is we are a large and growing movement that recognizes if we don't stand for something, we'll fall for anything. You have to threaten us with the specter of Bush-Gore-Nader 2000, without recognizing the irony that Democrats lost that election for exactly the same reasons -- the Democratic Party stopped representing the people (and Bill couldn't keep his zipper shut -- why is Nader to blame and not Slick Willy's slicked willie?) We are an increasing portion of the Democratic Party that refuses to be pandered to for votes and donations, only to see those progressive promises wither and corporate centrism reign supreme once the election is over (see: Barack "Hope & Change You Can Believe In" Obama, 2008).
The party didn't listen to Occupy Wall Street and isn't listening to Black Lives Matter -- our "Tea Party"-like manifestations -- and now, they're not listening to Bernie Or Bust, either. Come November, those chickens will come home to roost, either in a President Drumpf or in a gridlocked Congress full of Republicans whose hatred of President Hillary-> will make Obama obstructionism look like absolute polity.

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