No sooner had George W. Bush won (sic) re-election did the jockeying for position begin for 2008. Will Hillary run? Which Republican will step up? Can the law be changed to allow Ah-nuld a shot? It's never too early, so it seems, to lay the groundwork for the spectacle of a presidential campaign. (If only the rest of us were so forward thinking.) After eight years of Dubya, will progressives yet again hold their noses and vote Democrat?
"Backing the lesser-evil, like the majority of liberals and lefties did in 2004, keeps the whole political pendulum in the US swinging to the right," says Josh Frank, author of Left Out: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush. "It derails social movements, helps elect the opposition, and undermines democracy. This backwards logic allows the Democrats and Republicans to control the discourse of American politics and silences any voices that may be calling for genuine change."
For more on our alleged two-party system, do not miss Josh Frank's book. To get an idea of what else he has on his mind, I asked him a mixed bag of questions:
Mickey Z: Lots of hang-wringing lately, re: Karl Rove. Should we believe Rove is singularly repellent or is he just another in a long line of Roves? Is there a Democrat version waiting in the wings for 2008?
Joshua Frank: Well, Rove is certainly repellent, but this whole Plame affair is being looked at in the totally wrong context. You'd think the left would have cheered Rove (if it really was Rove) for outing a CIA operative. Another thing that has been totally lost in the media translation of this mess, is that the White House didn't out Plame just to get back at her husband Joseph Wilson -- they were really going after the CIA more generally, as the Agency was countering some of the rhetoric coming out of the Bush PR machine -- i.e. Rove and Scooter Libby -- about Saddam's potential WMD threats.
Is there a Democrat version of Rove waiting in the wings? Absolutely. His name is Al From, who is every bit as hawkish and sinister as Karl Rove. The Democratic Leadership Council, which From, the founder and current CEO, parrots virtually every neo-conservative and neo-liberal axiom that traverses down the pipeline. Just take a glance at their repulsive magazine, Blueprint. In the past few issues alone they've called for a prolonged occupation of Iraq. They've chastised colleges that don't allow military recruiters. They have embraced CAFTA. What a joke. Too bad the punch line isn't all that funny. The same crap churning out of the "brains" behind the DLC could just as easily be writing the garbage that David Horowitz espouses over at FrontPagMag.com. Same trash, different dump. And if Hillary Clinton runs '08, you can be sure From will be a very close advisor to her campaign as he was to her husbands in '92. Karl Rove isn't the only monster out there looking for a power grab.
MZ: The resignation of Justice O'Connor has resulted in her potential replacement John Roberts being labeled as "moderate." How accurate is that label?
JF: Ha, moderate! Right. And Howard Dean is a commie and Judith Miller a martyr. Roberts is certainly not a moderate, he's a right-wing activist with an agenda. He despises the rule of law, and has noted that he'd like to see the executive branch of government enjoy more power. So much for checks and balances. Repeatedly over his career he has gone after minorities. He's had an iron-fist approach to justice. He recommended against expanding the 1965 Voting Rights Act, because, as he wrote, the extension would "not simply extend the existing and effective Voting Rights Act, but would dramatically change it ... It's not broken so there's no need to fix it," he claimed. He also has attacked affirmative action, as I noted in a recent article, in Robert's opinion it was "obvious" that the minorities recruited under affirmative action policies were, by definition, "inadequately prepared candidates." In other words, it wasn't possible for black and Latino applicants to be anything but "inadequately prepared." That's pretty damned bigoted. And if bigotry is considered "moderate" these days, I'd hate to see what "conservative" looks like. He's also a whore for the corporate elite and has sides with their interests on most every occasion. After his stint as Solicitor General's he took a gig with the National Mining Association and hence his ruling against environmentalists when they challenged development practices that were impeding on an endangered species. The list goes on. Moderate Justice? My ass. Too bad the Democrats are going to rubber stamp this creep.
MZ: U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer recently called Israel the "Harvard of antiterrorism." Considering the Ivy League's role in maintaining America's status quo, is this characterization as insane as it initially sounds?
JF: Of course it's insane as it sounds. Harvard plays a large part is upholding the status quo and they've turned out a lot of monsters that have gone on to be high ranking officers and presidents. To their credit, however, much to the DLC's chagrin, Harvard does not allow the ROTC and other military recruiters on campus. But I think there is a much larger issue here with Gainer's statement, and that has to do with our little client state in the Middle East.
Israel, like the US, can do no wrong. Their policies aren't terrorist polices, but the actions of Palestinians are. The only reason that Israel is doing what it's doing, say it's avid supporters, building a wall and bulldozing olive groves (yes, it's still going on, despite the settler "pull out"), is to protect themselves from those terrorist Palestinians -- or so the rhetoric goes. Same goes for the United States and our actions. Invading a country illegally, killing countless civilians, and then occupying them while US corporations loot the place isn't terrorism, they say. But resistance fighters blowing themselves up in response is. It's a very twisted logic and it's clear that most looking at the horrific situation are not analyzing the asymmetry of the conflict. Who has the power and who doesn't? Tanks vs. suicide bombers. Nuclear weapons vs. stones. It's pretty clear that the US and Israel have the bigger guns here. And I'll take my chances and say they are also the bigger terrorists.
MZ: I know you spend a fair amount of time in the Big Apple. Will you feel safer thanks to the random bag searches on the subway?
JF: Safer? No. I think it's a bit silly, these "random" checks. More like "racist" checks -- as it's clear that the NYPD has targeted Latinos and blacks during this whole heightened "war on drugs" effort -- what's to change now? We've even got a story in a recent issue of the Washington Post where a Democrat is calling for racial profiling on the subway system. I guess they don't remember who bombed Oklahoma City. The bigger issue is really being lost in all of this and it has to do with your previous question I think. What's causing all of this? Or at least exacerbating it? It's easy to say that the terrorist activity is a result of a few crazy fundamentalists. Sure, that is true in some respect. But leaving it there totally ignores why so many are targeting the US and our allies. Could it be our unconditional support for Israel? How about our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq? How about our profligate use of their natural resources? I don't think anybody should feel safer because of these "random" checks. We should only safer when the US gets the hell out of the Middle East and supports Palestine with the same vigor it defends Israel.
MZ: August 2 is 15 years since Iraq invaded Kuwait, August 6 is 50 years since the bombing of Hiroshima, August 7 is 41 years since the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. What's up with early August?
JF: Maybe it's easier to pull the wool over the people's eyes when they are on vacation. August is a big vacation month ya know. I myself am off to Utah next week and I am looking forward to missing a little news as I hike around the state. In all seriousness, though, this quite possibly could be a motivating factor here. The Washington PR machines all know that Friday, for example, is the best day to slip out the dirty linens in the news run. Saturdays are not big days for news. And August may be one big Saturday to military and political strategists.
MZ: German scientists recently unearthed a stone dildo estimated to be around 28,000 years old (insert Strom Thurmond joke here). Is this the end of the world as we know it?
JF: I've never been asked that one before! Sounds like the beginning of civilization to me. We've come a long way since the stone dildo. That's had to be cold. I am a huge fan of the Rabbit, which even comes with a remote control now. It's not cheap, but it packs a punch. I'm glad to know my ancestors where enjoying themselves back in the day. I'm proud to say that I come from a long line of masturbators.
MZ: Why should readers buy your book, Left Out: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush?
JF: I'm hesitant to say people should "buy" it. I more interested in people "reading" it and understanding it. I'd like to see people out there discussing Left Out! passing copies around to friends and family. I don't think progressives and others in the US can ever gain any sort of legitimate power if we continue to capitulate our ideals during election seasons. And we consistently do that by embracing whatever dreadful pro-war Democrat comes our way. In 2004 we ("we" meaning the majority of lefties and progressives) endorsed Kerry without asking anything of his candidacy. We hated Bush so much that many supported Kerry sans specific demands. That was a losing move and Bush said "king me".
If our issues are important issues, we should be defending them. We should be out cheerleading those beliefs because we know they are the right issues to be championing. Like real universal health care, or a living wage, or an end to the Iraq war. Why are we so afraid to pull the Democrats in this direction? Why are we so afraid to support candidates that do support these things? Well, as so many said in 2004, "it'll help get that awful Bush our of office!" Well, I hate to tell ya, but it didn't work. So we better start figuring out what will get the pro-war politicians tossed out on their asses. I'm afraid supporting Democrats isn't going to do it. So this is why I think Left Out! is an important book -- as it raises these issues and hopefully makes people think about what to do in the future when we are offered some mundane lesser-evil alternative.
Josh Frank can be found on the Web at: www.brickburner.org.
Mickey Z. is the author of several books including the soon-to-be-released 50 American Revolutions You're Not Supposed to Know: Reclaiming American Patriotism (Disinformation Books) and There is No Good War: The Myths of World War II (Vox Pop). He can be found on the Web at: www.mickeyz.net.
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