Friday, December 29, 2006

The Real Reason Republicans Hate Hillary Clinton


Trying to fathom the various hatreds of the Republicans these days is always a tricky exercise.

After all, these are people who despise saintly figures like Jimmy Carter. How, exactly, does one go about hating someone like Carter? It's like hating Mother Teresa.

The wingnuts also despise decorated war heroes like John Kerry, John Murtha and Max Cleland. I've never understood how soldiers who fought and bled for their country could be the target of such venom from anyone, either on the Right or the Left.

But it's always been a complete mystery to me why the Republicans would hate someone like Hillary Clinton.

Surely it's clear to anyone outside of the Rush-listening, knuckle-dragging base of the GOP that Hillary is hardly an extreme liberal. In fact, she's quite moderate.

Despite what the likes of Fox News would have us believe, Hillary is a business-friendly politician who is hardly the champion of worker's rights. In short, she's not much of a progressive.

In fact, Hillary's 2002 vote in favor of using military force against Iraq and her pandering on the flag-burning issue have been enough to distance her from a number of progressives.

Liberal columnist Molly Ivins, for example, famously declared last January that she would not support Hillary for president.

The mainstream media hasn't helped things over the years when reporting on exactly what it is that Hillary stands for.

Indeed, the MSM continues to insist on calling Hillary a "divisive" figure.

Presumably, in giving her this label, the MSM is referring to the rabid GOP nutcases who are consumed with hatred for Hillary. What's interesting about all this is that the MSM hasn't stuck a similar label on George W. Bush---even though no president has ever done more to divide the country (and alienate the world from America).

Frankly, the mainstream media has done a lousy job of reporting on Hillary Clinton over the years. And nowhere is this more evident that the lies and misinformation that it spread about the 1993 Clinton health care plan.

The MSM went out of its way to try to scare the American public about Clinton's health care proposal. As a result of the media's misinformation, most Americans were under the impression that the plan called for some kind of scary, Communist-style government takeover of the entire U.S. health case system. This is a misconception that exists to this day.

In fact, the Task Force on National Health Care Reform (which Hillary headed) called for no such thing. It didn't even call for a Canadian-style single-payer plan. In fact, it left the nation's health care system firmly in the hands of the private sector.

The MSM's inability to convey even this basic, fundamental fact about Clinton's health care plan, of course, played right into the GOP's hands as they fought fiercely against the plan. I suspect we'll see a great deal more of this MSM misinformation about Hillary should she pursue the presidency.

Which brings me back to my original question: why, exactly does Hillary inspire such foaming-at-the-mouth hatred from the GOP these days? It sure as hell isn't because Hillary is some sort of FDR-style progressive.

It's clear that the real reason the Republicans hate Hillary is that they simply can't stand strong-willed women.

Let's face it: such "uppity" women frighten the Republicans. It's not that the GOP necessarily despise women in general---it's just that the right-wingers want women to stay in their place in society.

Republicans, of course, would strongly deny that this is the case. They'd protest that they're not hostile to women and, as "proof" would offer up examples like Bush's appointment of Condoleezza Rice, as well as the various female GOP politicians and leaders in America.

However, Republicans know damn well that a significant part of their base supports "traditional family values"---which is simply code for keeping women in their place as docile, cookie-baking homemakers.

It's important to remember that for all of the boasting that our nation does about being some sort of "beacon" of human rights, the fact is, today's America still harbors tens of millions of bigots, whose views on race and gender haven't changed much in the past 100 years.

And what party do you think these bigots vote for? It sure as hell ain't the Democrats.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

How Did America's Founding Fathers Feel About Christmas?


"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."
---Thomas Jefferson, in an 1823 letter to John Adams

This holiday season, Fox News and the rest of the nation's right-wing echo chamber have decreed that "the war on Christmas" is one of the biggest issues facing America.

Silly me, and here I was thinking that perhaps the disastrous war in Iraq was the biggest issue facing us.

Self-appointed "moral watchdogs" like Bill O'Reilly want to put the "Christ" back into Christmas and restore the holiday to its supposed proper place in our nation's history as a religious observance. Anyone familiar with O'Reilly's work knows that he is the appropriate moral figure to make such a call.

O'Reilly's 1998 novel, Those Who Trespass, for example, is filled with Christian-inspired wisdom and moral clarity. It includes such heart-warming scenes as a 15-year-old prostitute who smokes crack cocaine and performs fellatio.

In a sense, I share some of Fox's appreciation of Christmas. I think it can be indeed a special day to Christians and I really would like to see it designated as a holiday in which every non-emergency worker gets to take off and spend time with his or her family.

This last point is particularly important to me. The Republicans, after all, have always ferociously fought against any government regulation requiring that businesses give time off to their employees. The U.S., after all, is alone in the First World in not requiring the private sector to give any vacation time to workers.

So, as someone who was required by my private sector employer to work every Christmas for 15 years, I would indeed like to see Christmas made into a holiday that everyone can enjoy (not just government employees like Bush).

However, someone needs to send a memo to the Fox News talking heads regarding the true place of Christmas in our nation's history. The fact is, Christmas was nothing special to our nation's Founding Fathers.

This uncomfortable fact would lodge like a lump of coal in the throats of America's right-wing (if only they were aware of it in the first place). Conservatives in this country are always busy painting the Founding Fathers as devout Christians. However, any serious historian will tell you that the Founding Fathers were in fact not Christians.

Nor was Christmas particularly important to our Founding Fathers (or the nation as a whole). The U.S. government didn't even recognize Christmas as a holiday until 1870. Until then, Congress routinely met and conducted business on Christmas day. It was, in fact, just another workday.

Truth be told, Christmas was a totally different affair during the first century of America's history. It was far removed from today's holiday in which families gather and open presents around the Christmas tree.

So how did one celebrate Christmas back in those days? Well, typically, you might start off the day getting blindingly drunk. Then, you'd take to the streets and approach passer-by and demand money from them. If they refused, you'd beat them up. You might conclude the day by smashing some store windows or breaking into people's homes and stealing their food. Peruse a newspaper from the 1820s and you can routinely read of such chaotic yuletide lawlessness.

In the early part of the 19th century, Christmas was, as one historian once noted, "like a nightmarish cross between Halloween and a particularly violent, rowdy Mardi Gras." In fact, a massive Christmas riot in 1828 led to the formation of New York City's first police force.

Indeed, newspapers of the era are filled with disturbing accounts of what Christmas was really like in those days: widespread rioting, sexual assault, vandalism, drunkenness, street violence and general lawlessness. Most of these "traditions" were carried over from Europe, where, dating back to the Middle Ages, Christmas had been regarded by the wealthy classes as a safety valve for releasing the peasants' pent-up frustrations.

Christmas as we know it today didn't really take root until the 1870s. In fact, the holiday as we know it today was invented by middle-class merchants in the late 19th century, primarily as a gimmick to increase sales. In this respect, Christmas hasn't changed much since then.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Newspapers That Once Called Upon Clinton To Resign Are Silent On Bush


"Has the President so failed in his duties to the nation that he should leave office? The answer to that question is yes, and the time for the President to leave is not after months of continued national embarrassment but now. Clinton should resign."
---USA Today editorial, Sept. 15, 1998

George W. Bush is a crook.

He has violated the Constitution. He has violated his oath of office. He lied America into a disastrous war of aggression that killed 650,000 Iraqi men, women and children. He made the United States the most feared and hated nation on the planet.

By contrast, all Bill Clinton did was lie about a blow job.

Guess which president our nation's media called upon to resign?

In 1998, Kenneth Starr released his special counsel's report, the product of a $50 million, blatantly partisan GOP witchhunt aimed at bringing down the Clinton presidency. Despite this incredibly intense probe into every detail of his life, the only real "dirt" the report had on Clinton was that he lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Americans never really gave a damn about the Lewinsky affair. Even at the height of the impeachment "crisis," Clinton enjoyed strong approval ratings in the high 60s. I always got the feeling that the American public just wanted Congress to move on from this silly affair and get back to the real business of the nation.

What's remarkable is the American people believed this way despite the fact that, day after day, the "liberal media" was desperately hyping the Lewinsky story and trying to convince the public that it was a serious "crisis" for the White House.

In fact, after Starr released his report, dozens of major U.S. newspapers called upon Clinton to resign. The biggest circulation newspaper in America, USA Today, led the way.

In a Sept. 15, 1998 editorial, USA Today said:

"Has the President so failed in his duties to the nation that he should leave office? The answer to that question is yes, and the time for the President to leave is not after months of continued national embarrassment but now. Clinton should resign."

Many other major newspapers joined in the call for Clinton to resign, among them The Seattle Times, The New Orleans Times-Picayune, The Des Moines Sunday Register, The San Jose Mercury-News, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Looking back on all this eight years later, it's difficult to fathom what the fuss was all about.

Today, America is saddled with an unbelievably corrupt occupant in the White House. Bush is guilty of a long list of serious crimes, from embracing torture as official state policy to illegal wiretaps to lying America into a war that has turned out to be the biggest strategic blunder in U.S. history.

And what's the U.S. media's reaction to all this? (You know, the same "liberal media" that was screaming and hollering for Clinton to resign for lying about a blow job?)


Not one major newspaper has called for Bush to resign.

In fact, since Bush first took office six years ago, the nation's media has fallen into an eerie slumber. From GannonGate to PlameGate to the Downing Street memos, the media has snoozed through one major Bush scandal after another.

Not to worry, though. With the Dems now back in power in Congress, we can expect the media to shake off the cobwebs and go back to its watchdog role of holding Democratic politicians' feet to the fire (even if this "watchdog" role will consist of non-stories with no basis in fact: see HairCutGate, Whitewater, etc.)

It's great to live in a democracy with a free press. Someday I hope I have such an experience.