What We’re Up Against

I found this paragraph in an Eleanor Clift column crushingly depressing:

A pro-choice Republican who spoke with NEWSWEEK but didn’t want her name used said she is more worried about Alito after hearing him testify, and wishes the Democrats would spend their time finding a candidate to beat Hillary Clinton in the primaries “or we’re going to get four more years of judges like this.” She thinks that to win the White House the Democrats need a more centrist candidate than Clinton. “The math is against her.” (That debate is raging within Democratic circles, but no candidate has yet surfaced who could plausibly overtake Clinton, given her rock-star hold on party activists and the esteem in which she and her husband are held by African-American voters, a core Democratic constituency.)

Go ahead and read the whole column — it’s interesting — but let’s look at these “party activists.” There are activists, and there are other activists.

Compare/contrast Clift’s paragraph with this MyDD post by Chris Bowers — “Why The Blogosphere and the Netroots Do Not Like Hillary Clinton.”

… Hillary Clinton is, um, not exactly the most popular Democrat within the blogosphere and the netroots. I can offer loads of anecdotal information to support this, but perhaps the most striking evidence is that despite her large lead in national telephone surveys, she polls around fifth or sixth in our presidential preference polls. The real question we face is to figure out why she is not very popular among this large segment of the progressive activist class.

People will offer lots of reasons for this. In the past, I have done so myself. However, when one understands who actually makes up the blogosphere, a rarely, if ever, discussed reason comes to the fore. Within the progressive activist class, there is also a very real class stratification. While the blogosphere and the netroots may not be “the people” within America or the Democratic party as a whole, within the world of progressive activists, they are definitely “the people,” “the masses,” “the rank and file,” and any other populist term you want to throw out there. I believe the main mark against Hillary Clinton within the blogs and the netroots is the degree to which she is perceived as the uber-representative of the upper, aristocratic classes of the progressive activist world.

I think that’s part of it. See also these December posts by Avedon and Leah at Corrente. It’s not just that she’s unelectable; it’s that we don’t trust her.

Stirling Newberry wrote last November,

Hillary Clinton as a disaster for progressives and ultimately for the Democratic Party.

You want hard reasons? Let me list why I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever support Hillary Clinton, because she cannot ever, ever, ever, ever be trusted not to stab progressives in the back on key issues. She isn’t with us, except long enough to get the checks.

Let me start by way of explanation, when Bill Clinton first ran in 1992, I liked Hillary more than Bill, and even joked that we might be voting for the wrong Clinton. I felt she was smarter and sharper than Bill. She is, but, tin plated candidate that she is, she has no heart.

And she doesn’t like liberals or progressives. That’s a statement reported from several sources. She looks at us the same way that DeLay’s team looks at religious right voters – as stupid cash cows.

Stirling goes on to list concrete reasons why Hillary Clinton is unacceptable to the netroots; the first is “Hillary still supports the war.” He concludes,

Hillary is not politically reliable: she is busy selling progressives out now for her presidential bid. Which means that when she doesn’t need us at all, say the moment she has taken the oath of office and need only get re-elected with no primaries the second time around, we will be worse off than against a Republican, because we will have to sit through at least one Republican president before getting a progressive in the White House. If you don’t want to see a progressive President in your life time, then, by all means, support pro-war, soft on choice, anti-progressive, old top down media politics Hillary Clinton.

I think both Stirling and Chris are right, in different ways. Bottom line, Hillary Clinton is not one of us. She doesn’t represent us. She doesn’t know what we think and has lost the capacity to learn. She’s worked so hard at marketing herself to a mythical “center” that whoever she used to be has been consumed by her packaging. She’s an empty pants suit. As an active netcitizen of the Left, I believe I speak for an enormous majority of us when I say we are just as enthusiastic about a Hillary candidacy as we are about turnips.

Yet here is Eleanor Clift, who’s not a bad sort, writing about Hillary’s “rock-star hold on party activists.” Maybe Clift needs to stop shrieking at Tony Blankley on the McLaughlin Group and get out more.

Chris Bowers continues,

Within the world of progressive activists, from the viewpoint of the working and middle class progressive activists, Hillary Clinton is seen as hopelessly aligned with the establishment activists, with the insider activists, with the wealthy activists, with the well-connected activists, and with every possible progressive activist “elite” you can possibly imagine. Is it thus in any way surprising that the activist base, which is largely on the outside looking in, generally does not harbor much positive feeling toward her? The progressive activist base considers the progressive activist elite to be the main culprit in progressives losing power around the country. We keep losing, and we blame them. Thus, why should it be a surprise to anyone that we dislike the person who is viewed as their primary representative? We literally hold her, and what she represents within the world of progressive activism, to be responsible for the massive progressive backslide that has taken place over the past twelve years.

My cruder evaluation is that the Clintons represent a strategy that won some elections in the 1980s and 1990s but which has exacted a terrible cost on the Democratic Party. Their strategy was to toss enough progressive policy overboard to stay afloat in the Republican-controlled media sea. Bill Clinton made it work for him partly through force of personality — the man can charm the scales off a snake — and partly through co-opting Brand Republican positions; for example, on welfare and the death penalty. In the wake of the Reagan Era, perhaps that was a smart strategy.

But the Clintons, and the Democrats through the 1980s and 1990s, mounted no serious challenge to the GOP’s control of the sea — the VRWC and the Republican Noise Machine. Today the top of the Democratic Party and their “expert” consultants stick to the Clinton strategy, but now the VRWC has learned how to nullify it. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has tossed away so much of itself it’s hard to know what it stands for any more. They don’t call ’em “Republican Lite” for nothing.

Yet time and time again we see that the Republicans have moved far to the right of the American public on many critical issues. The attempt to “reform” Social Security, the Terri Schiavo episode, and, increasingly, Iraq reveal the Republicans to be way out of touch with mainstream Americans (which makes the notion that the Dems need to find a “centrist” candidate rather amusing). I truly believe many not-politcally-active people are growing heartily sick of right-wing extremism. But when they turn on the television or the radio, they don’t see or hear much in the way of an alternative. And so the Republicans win elections, for reasons that have little to do with their accomplishments (which are … ?) or their policy positions.

Chris Bowers argues that the blogosphere is not “the people,” in the sense that bloggers and their readers tend to be more affluent and educated than the population as a whole. But we represent the heart and soul of progressive activism far more faithfully than does the Democratic Party. And I think we represent the Party’s only viable future. The path they are on now leads to irrelevancy — some will argue they’ve already arrived — and to dissolution.

FBI Leak Threatens National Security!

Treasonous FBI officials leaked to the even more treasonous ABC News that it was investigating purchases of disposable cell phones by Middle Eastern terrorists in Texas and California.

The leak will no doubt hinder the FBI’s investigation into terrorist disposable-cell-phone-buying rings and allow members of terrorist cells to slip away.

Carelessly, and probably treasonously, numerous rightie bloggers have repeated this story all over the Internets. If the terrorists missed the broadcast of the original ABC News story, they no doubt have heard about it now. This guy even let it be known that the disposable phone sales “led the FBI to known terror cells in Texas and California.” Way to go, genius. Now the terrorists are safe until somebody reports a spike in the purchase of carrier pigeons.

Mysteriously, some treasonous Fifth Columnist (a liberal?) in the Midland, Texas, police department leaked an internal memo revealing that one cell-phone-purchase ring is connected to a terrorist cell. Bill Vanderland, head of the Midland, Texas, FBI office (and who knew podunk Midland has its own FBI office?), in an obvious attempt at damage control, put out a statement that the cell phone purchasers were not, in fact, linked to any known terrorist cell. But the toothpaste was out of the tube.

Just to show how diabolically clever the cell phone-purchasing terrorists were, they made their large quantity purchases in a California Target and a Texas Wal Mart. As alert readers of Tbogg pointed out, they could have purchased these phones without drawing attention to themselves by going through “foreign”-owned bodegas in any large city and/or making several smaller purchases instead of trying to buy as many as 150 phones at once. But no doubt the FBI monitors bodegas for cell phone purchases by Middle Eastern men; the terrorists must’ve decided they’d better take care of all their cell phone purchases in one transaction and then get out of Dodge. Or Midland, as it were.

ABC News reported that disposable phones “are widely used by criminal gangs and terrorists” because they are difficult to track. Oh, great, ABC News. Now all the criminal gangs and terrorists who hadn’t already learned to use disposable phones from watching Law & Order will be using disposable phones. Jebus.

On last night’s Countdown, known terrorist sympathizer Keith Olbermann called the timing of the FBI leak suspicious:

Meantime, late in the same week that an NSA whistleblower suggests the illicit tapping of American phones is thousands of times larger and thousands of times less focused than the President claims, suddenly we have FBI sources linking stories about Middle Easterners trying to buy vast quantities of untraceable, disposable American cell phones from K-Marts and Target stores. Which, if true, makes the wiretapping look like a good idea and its leakers look like they’ve already helped terrorists outsmart the eavesdropping. Boy, you can’t buy timing like that. I mean it. I’m asking seriously, you can’t buy timing like that, right? Reassure me it only looks too convenient to be believed….

…Federal officials telling ABC News that they have launched an investigation because of two shopping sprees in the past month. In one of them, six would-be cell phone shoppers at a Wal-Mart store in Midland, Texas, last month arrested after store employees became suspicious. The men were said to be of Middle East origin. The police report in the arrest identifying the six individuals as linked to a terror cell, but several independent counterterrorism experts think any terror connection is only in the imagination of those officials….

…Last point, the timing of that FBI cell phone investigation story, we’ll never know for sure if that is or is not just an amazing coincidence that it falls right after the whole NSA whistleblower issue comes up, but, as we had pointed out here before, the administration sure gets a lot of these breaks. Their position is challenged, and then suddenly there is a hazy story about something that seems to at least tangentially justify that position.

(BTW, the transcript above comes from Newsbusters, a blog dedicated to the proposition that all news that puts George Bush or other Republicans in a bad light, true or not, is evidence of liberal media bias. Newsbusters will not rest until liberals like Olbermann are driven from mass media, so that only the true light of Bill O’Reilly can shine forth undimmed. I guess sometimes speech can get a little too free, if you know what I mean.)

Olbermann’s implication that the FBI leaked news of an ongoing terrorist investigation in order to justify President Bush’s NSA warrantless wiretap activities is, of course, unpatriotic. Imagine our government leaking sensitive information just to manipulate public opinion. Oh, wait …

Update: Somebody’s a tad twitchy. But do not ask on whom the hammer falls …

Update update:
Glenn Greenwald: “We’re all (Paranoid, Imbalanced) Homeland Security Agents now!

Update update update:
Terrorists targeting Hemet, California? Speaking as one who was in lower Manhattan on 9/11 — this cracks me up.