Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Scandalous Exclusion of Howie Hawkins

There are few better examples of the corporate freeze-out of the public than the Senate race in New York. The candidates are: Hillary Clinton (D), John Spencer (R) and though you wouldn't know it, Howie Hawkins (G). Hawkins is running on an anti-war position, was endorsed by anti-war candidate Jonathan Tasini as well as by Cindy Sheehan, but because Hillary Clinton refused to debate him, and because the mainstream anti-war voices have not covered or endorsed his campaign, despite his meeting all the League of Women Voters' standards for legitimate candidacy(including fundraising and poll numbers), he has received no media attention. In the progressive blogosphere, as represented by the Dailykos, his name appears only once in a diary.
Those who listen to Pacifica radio's "Democracy Now" probably know that the League of Women Voters have withdrawn their approval not only from the debates between Clinton and Spencer, but from a number of debates because of Democratic candidates refusal to appear in debates with third party anti-war candidates.

After reading just a few stories based on "man on the street" feeling about the voters who may turn out again this time around because of their disgust about the war, I'm sure that if some of those New Yorkers knew Hawkins was running, or what he stood for, they would vote for him rather than Hillary C.
New York Newsday puts it like this :
People don't turn out only for cliffhangers," said Miringoff. "They show up when they have something to say or to send a message. For Democrats in New York, it's send a message to George Bush about Iraq and they'll use the congressional races to do that.

But what message are voters who vote for Hillary Clinton sending about Iraq?
Maybe it's to "stay the course" after all, and it doesn't send a good message to the dems about 2008. I think she should be punished at the polls for the greater good, and here's why:

In 2002, Hillary Clinton, made this speech explaining why she would support Bush's resolution to use force in Iraq:

I will take the President at his word that he will try hard to pass a UN resolution and will seek to avoid war, if at all possible. Because bipartisan support for this resolution makes success in the United Nations more likely, and therefore, war less likely, and because a good faith effort by the United States, even if it fails, will bring more allies and legitimacy to our cause, I have concluded, after careful and serious consideration, that a vote for the resolution best serves the security of our nation. If we were to defeat this resolution or pass it with only a few Democrats, I am concerned that those who want to pretend this problem will go way with delay will oppose any UN resolution calling for unrestricted inspections. This is a very difficult vote. This is probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make -- any vote that may lead to war should be hard -- but I cast it with conviction.

In late 2005, Clinton was critical of the president and presented herself, as well as other members of congress, as being "duped" into voting for war based on faulty intelligence - despite the fact that anyone with a brain was already saying in 2002 that the Bushies were not to be trusted. However, her argument was still for war:
"It is time for the President to stop serving up platitudes and present us with a plan for finishing this war with success and honor," she said,
– not a rigid timetable that terrorists can exploit, but a public plan for winning and concluding the war. And it is past time for the President, Vice President, or anyone else associated with them to stop impugning the patriotism of their critics.

In her other, more recent positions, Clinton continues to triangulate. Like John Kerry, who blew the 2004 election because he refused to take an anti-war position, she is critical of the management of the war "on the cheap," but doesn't call for withdrawl of troops. In fact, the Democratic plan for Phased redeployment that Clinton and other milque-toast dems support does not include a meaningful time-table for withdrawl, and because it suggests little more than the "Vietnamization" strategy that Bush seems already to have put forth, does not inspire confidence in the Dems' will to truly "change course" in Iraq.
As Norm Solomon reminds us:

Tactical critiques of war management are standard ways that politicians keep wars going while they give superficial nods to voters' frustration and anger. Those kinds of rhetorical maneuvers went on for the last several years of the war in Vietnam, while the death toll mounted at the same time that polls showed most Americans had turned against the war. These days, Hillary Clinton must be very appreciative that MoveOn is helping her to finesse the war in Iraq while she continues to support it.

But, say, people, at least Hillary Clinton will be better on domestic issues than Bush. I wonder how true that really is. Medea Benjamin, who went with the "Anybody But Bush" line and cast her support to Kerry in 2004, describes how Clinton thwarted efforts of anti-war activists to be heard at a "take back America" conference, at which CODEPINK was a registered participant organization with a table and an pre-conference agreement with the organizers. Despite this, they were turned away at the door.

A few CODEPINK women did manage to get inside the breakfast, however, as they were legitimate ticket holders. Once inside, the CODEPINK women soon realized that they had been deceived about the second part of the agreement: They would not be allowed to ask the first question, or any question, because Hillary Clinton would not be fielding questions from the audience. “We were really upset that we had been lied to by Take Back America, and that there would be no space at this ‘progressive conference’ to have a dialogue with Hillary Clinton about the most critical issue of our time—the war in Iraq,” said Katie Heald, DC coordinator for CODEPINK. “We got up on our chairs holding up our hands with the peace sign, and were pulled down from the chairs. We tried to take out our banner that said “Listen Hillary: Stop Supporting the War” and it was grabbed from us. And when Hillary started talking about her Iraq strategy, criticizing Bush but not posing a solution, we shouted ‘What are YOU going to do to get us out of Iraq,’ but she ignored us.”

If anything, the complete blackout of anti-war candidates and voices from this year's political races is even worse than it was in 2004, and that may just be because the public's position has shifted so dramatically against the war that the Democrats are running scared, not just from the Republican machine, but from the true wishes of the majority of Americans.


Anonymous said...

What's "scandolous" (sic) is that even at this point six years into the Bush regime you can still "wonder" if Republicans are worse than Democrats like "Hilary" (sic)

reb said...

Oh, thanks for pointing out my spelling mistakes. I'll get right on them. Meanwhile, I think it's scandalous that after the NY Post found it OK to endorse Wal-mart friendly, pro-war Hillary that anyone claiming to be a progressive could actually vote for her.

reb said...

Oh, I want to challenge the latest anonymous dem. defender. Tell me one distinctive difference between Hillary Clinton's voting record and that of a moderate Republican.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't argue that Hillary is much different than a moderate Republican, but you actually wrote: "(people say) at least Hillary Clinton will be better on domestic issues than Bush. I wonder how true that really is"

Unless you are saying that Bush is a "moderate" Republican? Or are you just changing the goalposts now because you can't possibly justify what you actually wrote?

Anonymous said...

The issue is not whether or not Hillary and the Democrats are "better" or "worse" than the Republicans (although it is getting harder and harder to tell. Instead its what happens when the left backs Democratic "lesser evils/" We end up losing our independent voice, downplaying our politics (bring the troops home now), and avoiding the sort of actions (marches, etc.) which might embrass the Democrats. We end up invisible and weaker. No wonder the right is so strong in this country-- the left covers for rightward moving ex-liberals and won't build movements for social power...

Anonymous said...

Well, as an otherwise reliable Swing-State Democrat for the past 5 elections, I can tell you with certainty that I would never, ever pull a lever for Hillary in a national election. Ever.

She's burned far too many bridges for me. I could have forgiven her early 2002 Iraq War support (even though I thought it was politically as well as ethically stupid then), but what I won't ever forgive is her continuing push in favor of that war even years after it was clear we were already headed for disaster. Hillary was one of the few people with the national prominence to perhaps have made a difference early on in the debate, and she blew it for the sake of political expediency. She even pushed for bringing the war to Iran!

Actually, considering Hillary's machinations on countless other issues, and her support for just about every piece of corporate welfare the GOP has tossed up in Congress, her push for outsourcing and other anti-Middle America initiatives, maybe this shouldn't have been surprising, but what's clear is that she's the wrong person for the Democratic ticket.

I'm also getting really sick and tired of people trying to tell me that "you should vote for Hillary, at least she's better than the alternative." BS!!! In many ways, she's much worse than McCain or Giuliani or maybe Romney since if she were elected, she would help ensure almost 20 continuous years of warfare and corporate welfare (since a Republican would likely succeed her as a "reaction"). In fact, I'd say she's one of the worst, most anti-populist candidates out there, with her name prominent only due to her First Lady affiliations and her status as a favorite of the corporate class. Why else would Rupert Murdoch be so enthusiastic about her?

If Hillary is nominated, I won't just not support her, I'll actively work against her and against the Democrats, my party for 20 years, in 2008 by assisting a 3rd party. That's what the Dems have to look forward to if they make such a foolish choice.

Anonymous said...

Here are a few Hillary votes:

Prohibit partial birth abortion - NO

Prohibit price gauging during emergencies - YES

Minimum Wage Amendment (dem version) YES

Constitutional Amendment to ban flag burning - NO

Investigate contracting in Iraq - YES

Federal Marriage Amendment - NO

She also voted against Bolton, Alito, Roberts, Ashcroft, Gonzales, etc

That's a VERY selective list, culled from

There were lots of other votes where Hillary voted with Republicans and I'm not a big fan of Hillary or so-called "centrist" democrats in general.

Criticize them all you want, but they are NOT just like the Republicans. Or haven't you noticed the damage the Bush gang is doing, looting and killing and destroying everything they touch?

I'd vote against Hillary and support her opponents in a primary, but if the alternative Presidential choice is Giuliani, McCain or Romney that's just too horrible to contemplate - I would have to vote for her if she is the national candidate. Uggh.

With our dysfunctional "democracy" the system is rigged, and at the presidential level third parties are just spoilers. The Republicans have figured this out that's why they give so much financial support to the Green party. Maybe Dems should start helping the Libertarian party bleed off support from the Republicans.

Anonymous said...


Nobody's calling for absolute ideological purity here, I expect and tolerate some pragmatism in our candidates, which is why I've pulled the lever for every Democrat since Dukakis.

The point is, Hillary represents an awful, severe departure from mere political pragmatism into full-fledged, unadulterated unscrupulous and flat-out anti-progressive behavior.

Like other American voters, the Iraq War is the main issue for me, and Hillary went out of her way to play up her hawkish bona fides and has continued to do so. Sorry, but I find little to recommend in a candidate who so foolishly and unabashedly has promoted this bloodshed for political expediency. Even John Edwards and many Republicans have pulled back from that.

I will also never, ever forgive Hillary Rodham Clinton or Joe Biden for their support of that reprehensible bankruptcy reform bill. As I said, the abhorrence of that bill is beyond words. And what about Hillary's support for massive outsourcing, for that amendment about "flag desecration" limiting free speech, her backstabbing against John Kerry recently (basically repeating GOP talking points taking the comment out of context)? What about the fact that Rupert Murdoch of Fox News has been one of her biggest boosters?

If the alternative is someone like McCain, Giuliani or Romney, no, that's not "too horrible to contemplate." While I don't like any of these people very much, they at the very least aren't base sell-outs to among the worst anti-progressive factors around the Democratic Party. Those 3 Republicans are at least mildly acceptable and both strong-willed and versatile in their thinking, and while I disagree with them on just about everything, I have the sense they'd be both fairer and far more competent than George W. Bush-- IOW, not ideal, but acceptable for 4 years in that they wouldn't utterly mess up the country like Bush.

And yes, I'd take any of them in 2008 if for no other reason than it might enable a progressive Democrat in 2012-- to paraphrase something my veteran uncle always used to tell us, it would be accepting a tactical defeat to gain a strategic victory.

I've been a Democrat for so long because being Democratic means something more than contributing to the campaigns of people whose chief priority is their own ambition and the rewarding of their corporate friends. Hillary goes against everything that being a Democrat means to me, and I won't stand by and countenance the fall of the Democrats-- the only current viable alternative to the corporate-controlled Republicans-- falling into the same hands with a Hillary candidacy.

Hillary does not get my vote, under any circumstances. The more the foolish voices in the press and among some segments of the Democratic leadership talk up Hillary for 2008, the more we core Democrats start casting our glances at 3rd Party alternatives.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I do think that we can win in 2008, but definitely not with Hillary. I like Barack Obama more and more every day. Yes he's not that experienced, but he has won elections and is incredibly articulate plus he HAS SUBSTANCE. It's not just fluff-- the man thinks and acts on his well-reasoned ideas.

My #2 would be maybe John Edwards, who also initially supported the Iraq War but realized the mistake a while ago and frankly admitted it, very much unlike Hillary. He also opposed the bankruptcy reform atrocity, and he has strong appeal plus a populist way of campaigning and reaching out to voters.

#3 would be a very broad list-- Bill Richardson, Russ Feingold, maybe Barbara Boxer or a lesser-known horse like Janet Napolitano or Brian Schweitzer. I don't like John Kerry in there-- as for Bayh, I don't know a whole lot about him. Wesley Clark might be a good choice too, though again I have to confess ignorance here.

Two of my favorite choices-- Al Gore and Mark Warner-- apparently aren't running, but Barack Obama is right up there too, closely followed by John Edwards. IMHO an Obama-Edwards or Edwards-Obama ticket would be incredibly tough.

Anonymous said...


You believe those 3 repukes are "mildly acceptable and both strong-willed and versatile in their thinking"?


Anonymous said...


Obama???? WARNER????

You seem sadly misinformed about the actual positions of these guys... Perhaps you are blinded by your Hillary-hatred.

And get your facts straight, for all her other flaws Hillary did NOT vote for the bankruptcy bill. Unfortunately she did not vote at all on that bill.

Her statement
on the bill concludes, "Because of unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances, I will not be present when the Senate votes on final passage of this bill today. But were I able to be here, I would vote no, because this bill is clearly not in the best interests of the American people."

Anonymous said...

Hillary missed the vote on the bankruptcy "reform" (3/10/2005) - the same day Bill was in the hospital for a follow-up operation to his quadruple heart bypass.

reb said...

OK. I agree it's an overstatement to say that Hillary is just as bad as Bush on domestic issues. What was Bush-like was her treatment of Codepink at the conference, which was the context of my comment, and her shutting out of alternative voices in the primary season and now in the election by refusing to appear in debates with first anti-war candidate Tasini, whom Codepink endorsed, and then anti-war candidate, Hawkins.
Since Hillary is running virtually unopposed in NY (with Murdoch and the Post's endorsement) imagine what it would have been like if there had been an actual DEBATE about the war as part of the NY senate race instead of what he did have.
By shutting the Greens and other anti-war candidates out of the debates, Hillary Clinton and the corporate media made sure that the public didn't even know their choices. That's not a trivial issue.

reb said...

So right, Hillary is little different from a "moderate republican" and for that reason I should vote for her "or else"?
The reason I can say what I said after six years of Bush is because I remember eight years of Clinton the 1st: He brought us the "end of welfare as we know it." Under his watch, the US prison population grew to be the highest in the developed world. He brought us the Affective Death Penalty/Terrorism Act that made it so much harder for death row inmates to make habeas appeals. He bombed Iraq and upheld sanctions that killed 500,000 children AND kept Saddam Hussein in power. The list goes on.
Don't set up a false dilemma along the lines "if you're not with us, you're a republican." Being critical of the Democratic party does not mean that a person must automatically be supporting Bush and the Republicans.

Anonymous said...

Hey Shawn at the U of Minnesota just gave me the heads up on your blog -- I'll be informing my companeros. Thanks, drew hempel

Anonymous said...

Vote. Or Else.

And for God's sake vote anything but Democratic for the House and Senate. These people control the funding for our military. They can gut our intelligence services. They can release the animals from Gitmo. They can open our borders.

Even their current minority status is too good for them.

Anonymous said...

Americans are like Tom Cruise. They can't handle the truth. Any candidate who speaks it is doomed from jump.

comment @ dkos