PUMA – A Brief History (Part II)

October 30, 2008

In our last episode I gave an outline of the pre-history of PUMA.  I wasn’t trying to write a detailed history, I just wanted to make a rough sketch and I thought I could do it in a single post.  But even though I broke it into two pieces and there was a lot I left out it was still pretty long.  I was totally blown away by your responses.

I ended Part I on June 1st which was the day SM (aka sm77) coined the name Party Unity My Ass.  It was intended as a joke but Riverdaughter put it into a post and within days it had gone viral.  Darragh Murphy, Will Bower, Heidi Li, Diane Mantouvalos and Alegre are just a few of the people who helped to form our “rebel alliance” and the JustSayNoDeal coalition.  I’m leaving out lots of people who deserve recognition and credit, but this is supposed to be a “brief” history.

The core of PUMA was and is Clinton Democrats, specifically Hillary supporters.  I call myself a liberal and eschew the name “progressive” but regardless of labels the vast majority of PUMAs are left-of-center politically and were either Democrats or independents.  Because Hillary’s core constituency was women PUMA has a similar demographic but it is not exclusively female nor is it focused entirely on “women’s” issues.  But the sexism and misogyny directed at Hillary and Sarah Palin have certainly been strong motivating factors for most PUMAs.

One of the pieces of misinformation (lies) being spread about PUMA is that it is a GOP ratfucking operation.  If that was true then those Republicans must be devious indeed.  They would have had to plant moles in the Democratic party two and three decades ago and had them pose as loyal party activists until this year.  They must have infiltrated Left Blogistan and positioned their operatives as prolific lefty writers at dkos and other blogs.  They must have told them to pose as Hillary supporters early in the campaign having somehow foreseen the meltdown of the progressive blogosphere.

Maybe Karl Rove is a diabolical genius and told Donna Brazile how to rig the election in favor of Obama knowing that Hillary’s supporters would be outraged and positioning his operatives to take advantage.  But when you really think about it, for PUMA to be a GOP ratfucking operation then Rove would have mad skills, because he would have had to either foresee or manipulate so many events.

Now it should be noted that when PUMA exploded onto the scene there was no one in charge of membership and we weren’t having people fill out applications and doing background checks on everyone who wanted to join.  Undoubtably some of the people who began to show up had ulterior motives and hidden agendas.  We know that many who joined under false pretenses were Obama supporters because they have since been exposed and given the boot.

The original PUMAs were united in two main goals – electing Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Democratic nominee for President and defeating Barack Obama and the corrupt DNC cabal that supported him.  Although some of us held out hope until the Demcratic convention that Hillary would be the nominee, others were pessimistic about her chances.  The pessimists were correct, the fix was in.

The emotional high point for PUMA (so far) was when the DNC was forced to put Hillary’s name on the ballot and hold a roll call vote.  PUMA was the driving force behind that effort, but the DNC simply rigged that vote as well.  PUMA had a large contingent present in Denver and several were interviewed by the media, although the interviews weren’t always friendly.  PUMA was involved in helping to expose the caucus fraud that allowed The Lightbringer to gain the early lead in pledged delegates, and has raised money to create and run anti-Obama ads in swing states.  All in all, that’s not too bad for a paranoid band of shrieking holdouts.

The official end of Hillary’s campaign and her endorsement of Teh Precious caused an identity crisis for PUMA.  Some PUMAs felt they should follow Hillary’s lead and support Uh-bama, while others chose to focus on electing downticket Democrats.  Some PUMAs have chosen to vote for John McCain next Tuesday, hoping that Hillary will run against him in 2012.  Others will be voting for third-party candidates or NOT (nothing on top) voting.  A few pathetic cases showed a complete lack of principle by choosing to slurp the Kool-aid only after polls showed Obama with a clear lead.

Many PUMAs reregistered as independents but many of us are still Democrats.  I spent over 20 years as a “yellow-dog” Democrat and I am still registered with the donkey party, but if Teleprompter Jesus wins next week I am through with the party and will reregister as an independent. 

That’s a “brief” history of PUMA up to this point.  There is lots that’s missing, particularly YOUR stories.  If you didn’t already do so in my last thread, please describe briefly when you joined PUMA and why you joined.  Include a little bit about yourself and your politcal background, party membership, etc.  If you feel there is something important I left out, tell me what it is.

If you do that, I will compile it into a single volume that will be the definitive story of PUMA (so far)  That assumes, of course, that after the election I am not hauled off to Gitmo and waterboarded with Kool-aid.

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Howard Beale – Honorary PUMA

August 21, 2008

The original “Mad Prophet of the Airwaves” from the 1976 movie Network:

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s work, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it.

We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore.

We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, “Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.”

Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad.

You’ve got to say, “I’m a human being, God damn it! My life has value!”

So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell – “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!… You’ve got to say, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”  

Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it:

“I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

Peter Finch (who played Howard Beale) died of a heart attack shortly after appearing on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to promote Network.  I remember watching the show that night, then reading Finch’s obituary in the paper the next day. 

Peter Finch was posthumously awarded the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Howard Beale.

BTW – Robert Duvall actually had the best line of the movie, playing Frank Hackett and channeling a modern network news executive:

“We’re not a respectable network. We’re a whorehouse network, and we have to take whatever we can get.”


What Have You Done For Me Lately?

July 23, 2008

It sounds cynical, but a political campaign can be viewed as a bidding competition. Candidates need votes to get elected, and the one who buys the most votes wins (unless Diebold is counting the ballots.) They don’t usually pay cash but promising a tax cut comes pretty damn close.

They promise to pass new laws, or to repeal old ones. They assure you that they will end waste, fraud and abuse, while making government more efficient. The put out a laundry list of promises hoping that your favorite issues will be covered. And just to see if you’re paying attention, they promise to pay for increased spending with tax cuts.

Our two-party system results in interest groups forming coalitions to support one party and its candidates. Although all of us have diverse issues we care about, some people have a pet issue or cause that they care about much more than the others. These people are often misnamed as “single issue voters.” In Parliamentary systems with multiple parties the elected representatives themselves tend to be more narrowly focused, so the coalition building happens after the election rather than before.

Conventional wisdom says that the GOP is supported by greedy businessmen, holy rollers and warmongers, while the Democratic party’s core constituency is a coalition of anti-American dope-smoking hippies, whiny minorities and man-hating, hairy-legged feminists. It is an article of faith among some progressives that blue-collar workers belong in the Democratic party but vote for GOP candidates because they are “low-information” racists.

The basic premise of a coalition is working together for mutual benefit. It isn’t limited to issues everyone agrees on, it also includes helping other groups achieve their goals with the implied or express covenant that they will help you achieve yours. Sometimes those various goals are in conflict with each other, and unless a compromise is reached the coalition may splinter.

In theory, the candidates and parties adopt platforms that reflect the combined agendas of the coalition members. But those platforms are meaningless if they only receive lip service after the election. Even worse is when the politicians secretly pursue agendas of their own that conflict with their stated platforms.

The old Democratic coalition is in disarray and may not survive. There are a number of different causes of this conflict, but one of the primary problems is that the Democratic leadership (including many of the current Representatives and Senators) have their own agenda, and they are aggressively pursuing it at the expense of their constituents. The FISA bill vote is a perfect example of this. There is no “Democratic” constituency that supported the FISA bill, and most Democrats were actively opposed to it, yet it was pushed forward by Pelosi, Hoyer, Reid and Obama,

Although the situation did not develop overnight, it became glaringly obvious during this year’s primaries primaries that some coalition members were very unhappy. Women comprise the single largest group of disaffected Democrats, but they are not alone. LGBT and Hispanic voters did not support the presumptuous nominee, nor did many old-school DFHs. It’s easy to understand their anger, because the Democratic leadership has breached the implied covenant that brought the coalition together.

There are several coalition factions whose goals I support but with less enthusiasm than they themselves have because I am not personally affected. I am opposed to racial discrimination but I am white. I support full and equal rights for LGBTs, but I’m a flaming heterosexual. I am pro-choice but will never have to choose because I am male. But even though those are other people’s issues they are is not in conflict with my own. I believe in protecting civil liberties and limiting the abuse of government power, particularly in regards to criminal law. I also believe in using the power of government to improve the quality of life of everyone, and to protect the weak against the strong.

For many years now I have faithfully cast my vote for whatever Democrat was on the ballot, often without making any inquiry other than party affiliation. But the reality is that for most of those years I simply gave my vote away, because I got nothing in return, for myself or for other coalition members. (The exception was the eight years of the Clinton administration.)

All those years I took pride in my party loyalty and now I realize I was just a fool, because I was telling the Democratic party and candidates they could take me for granted and ignore my wants and needs. The could pursue their own agendas without interference from me, because no matter what they did (or failed to do) they could count on my vote.

If I had been more disloyal they might have offered to pay me for my vote instead paying me no attention. Who knows what I could have got in return for my vote? I might have universal health care right now instead of my current plan which is called “don’t get sick.” We might even have “Congressional oversight” of the Bush Mob.

It wasn’t just me that screwed up though, it was the entire Democratic coalition. Our parents and grandparents allied their factions with others to form the coalition, which gravitated to the Democratic party because it had a liberal/progressive ideology. Some coalition members, like blue-collar workers, joined during the New Deal, but others became members during the Civil Rights era when minorites took the place of Southern conservatives. The conservatives and reactionaries who were unwilling or uninterested in staying in the coalition migrated to the GOP.

But beginning in the 1960’s and 70’s, the Democratic party started to become less responsive to the coalition’s agenda. They still said they supported the agenda, but they quit fighting for it. They made excuses, and blamed the Republicans for obstructionism, even when the Democratic party controlled Congress and the White House. They let Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich turn “liberal” into a dirty word. The Village idiots joined in, propagating the idea that liberalism is a bad thing, and constantly preaching that if Democrats want to win elections they have to become Republicans.

And the coalition fell for it, booing and hissing at the GOP while loyally voting for Democrats. Eventually it got to the point where the Democratic leadership did nothing, or even worked against the coalition goals. They couldn’t get legislation we supported passed, nor could they stop the GOP from passing legislation we opposed. But we kept voting for them anyway.

Now they even have the chutzpah to demand our support after they ignored the will of a majority of Democrats and gamed the system in order to force upon us an unqualified nominee for President.

Imagine if the PUMA movement had been around for a couple decades instead of a couple months. Imagine if PUMAs were adamant that they would not vote for bad candidates, even if it meant letting a Republican hold the office temporarily. More importantly, imagine if they demanded something concrete in exchange for their votes.

Eventually the Do-Nothing Democrats would be replaced with candidates who cared about our concerns, and were willing to fight for us. Or perhaps those new candidates would appear in the GOP or in a viable third party. (Once upon a time there were liberal Republicans, perhaps one day soon they will return)

So how do we fix this mess? First of all, we must stand firm and refuse to give our votes away any longer. If the Democratic party wants our votes, they must pay us for them, and not with promises. Their credit is maxed out. Since there is no promise we can trust, they must give us a nominee we can trust. Obama ain’t it, and if he is the nominee we will not support him, and will actively oppose him.

And either way, if they want our votes 2 or 4 years from now they will have to pay for them again. They will have to pay for our votes every election, and can never rest on their laurels. “What have you done for me lately?” is a question every incumbent Democrat better be able to answer satisfactorily.

There is a tacit admission in every appeal for “party loyalty” that the party has failed us. If we were satisfied with the performance of the Democratic party and the presumptuous nominee, PUMA would not exist.  “Party loyalty” is merely a promise to pay later, a request for credit. 

Never again should we profess loyalty to any political party or candidate. Our only loyalty should be to ourselves, to each other, and to our principles. But we should demand loyalty from politicians and parties, and we should expect them to prove it, over and over. We should not give politicians or parties the benefit of the doubt on the votes they make or the people they associate with and accept money and gifts from.

Our nomination and election process is completely FUBAR’d, including both the party rules as well as the law. We should have one uniform set of laws, regulations and rules, and both party nominations and the general election should be determined by popular vote. We also need comprehensive campaign finance reform including the requirement that television networks and stations set aside a certain amount of time for candidates to use free or at minimal cost.

Barack Obama must be defeated. Preferably at the convention with the assistance of the super delegates, but if necessary in November with the assistance of John McCain. And we must root out the cancer that infects our party leadership. Barack Obama is the visible manifestation of the illness, but it’s roots run much deeper.

That’s why we should think of John McCain as chemotherapy for our party. When a cancer patient undergoes chemo, his or her doctor prescribes a drug cocktail that will make the patient very ill, but will hopefully kill the cancer. Allowing the GOP to control the White House is bitter medicine, but necessary to restore the moral health of the Democratic party.

Obama trolls like to falsely accuse PUMAs of being “McCain supporters.” That accusation is false because PUMA’s don’t look forward to a McCain administration, but they consider Obama the evil of two lessers. If Obama wins in November it will take years for the Democratic party to recover.

Our country is currently in a situation that historians refer to in technical terms as “deep shit.” The economy, the environment, and the war in Iraq are each a major crisis, and yet they are only part of problem the next President will face. The solutions won’t be easy or quick.

But before we can deal with the problems facing this country we need to put our own house in order. That means we need to either clean-out the corruption in the Democratic party or we need to build a viable third party. Reforming the Democratic party would be easier and quicker, because rank-and-file Democrats are not corrupt, but in order to do that we must first discredit and disempower Obama and his supporters in the party leadership. Losing the election would be a repudiation of his campaign tactics as well as his supporters behavior, but would not harm the party nearly as much as a failed presidency would.

So let us put our votes up for sale. The minimum bid is a qualified nominee for President. Bidding will remain open until November 4, 2008.


You Down With O.P.P.?

July 2, 2008

Imagine falling in love with someone who is already in another relationship.  They tell you how bad that relationship is.  They tell you earnestly how it’s you they really love, not the other person.  They promise you that soon the two of you will be together forever. 

But they say can’t leave that relationship right now.  They tell you it’s financial, or for the children, or because they are afraid.  So they sneak out and come see you, enjoy some good hot nasty lovin’ and whisper sweet nothings in your ear.  Then they leave.

They keep saying soon, maybe next month, but next month never comes.  There is always some new excuse, some new reason, some new broken promise.  If you have ever been in this situation, you know how much it hurts.  But if you have ever had a friend in this situation, you would tell them the obvious truth:

“They’re just screwing you!”

How long has the Democratic party been coming by, sweet talking and schmoozing you, taking your money and votes, and then going back home to their real love?  How long have they been promising you the sun, the moon and the stars, but delivering nada planada?  Too long.  Way too too long.

Right now this country is controlled by an elite ruling class.  This class consists of life-time and charter members.  The life-time members are the wealthy, the rich and shameless.  They own or control the corporations and most of the wealth.  Some of them aren’t even Americans.  The charter members are the politicians and media.

Let’s jump in the wayback machine and go back to our nation’s founding.  The Democratic party is sometimes called the “Party of Jefferson” because we can trace it’s origins to Thomas Jefferson, our third President and one of the greatest political philosophers in history.  Jefferson is most famous for writing the Declaration of Independence and for making the Louisiana Purchase, but he did something else of great significance.

In 1776, as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, he authored and helped enact a law abolishing primogeniture.  Primogeniture is the common law right of the firstborn son to inherit the entire estate, to the exclusion of younger siblings.  It is the tradition brought by the Norman Invasion to England in 1066. 

In feudal Europe, all the land was owned by the aristocracy.  Commoners worked on the land, but didn’t own it.  The more land you owned, the more status you had.  Most of our laws concerning property, water rights, landlords and tenants, trespass and inheritance derive from this system.

If you were the firstborn son and lived long enough, you got everything.  If you had male heirs, your siblings got nothing.  Your younger brothers had few options.  They could join the priesthood, where family connections could hopefully propel them to the status of Bishop or higher (the leaders of the Catholic church were very connected to politics, that’s why the game of chess has “bishops”.)  Your siblings could engage in intrigue and try to poison your food, thus moving into the line of succession.  Or they could participate in military ventures in hope of winning and being awarded captured lands.

Many of these younger sons of aristocracy were given land grants in the colonies that became the southern United States.  The goal of these settlers was to become landed gentry like their relatives back in Europe.  They wanted to own the land, not work on it.  “Gentlemen” didn’t work, they studied the arts and sciences, and lived lives of leisure.   They established plantations, and because they needed laborers to replace feudal serfs, they imported African slaves.

The North, on the other hand, was settled by non-aristocrats seeking religious freedom.  These people, who would become the “Yankees,” were small farmers, traders, and craftsman.  They became manufacturers, sailors, and businessmen.  Their goal was wealth, not land.  This is why slavery never caught on in the North, even though the Yankee sailors participated and profited in the slave trade.

In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville argued that the abolition of the laws of primogeniture caused the death of the landed aristocracy and also brought a shift to democracy.  This was Jefferson’s goal, to eliminate aristocracy in America.  It wasn’t immediate, and it was a violent transition, but eventually the old system ended.

But it was replaced by something else that is just as much a threat to democracy as the aristocracy.  It was replaced by the corporatists.  Those Yankees were very successful at business, and the Industrial Revolution made many of them fabulously wealthy.  Chattle slavery was replaced with wage slavery.  And the Supreme Court of the United States even declared that corporations were “persons” under the law.

You can actually look at the Civil War as the point when the corporatists overthrew the old aristocrats.  The industrialized North versus that agragarian South.  The “good guys” won, right?  Maybe, or maybe not.  It was more like “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”  We traded one set of masters for another.

Frederick Jackson Turner wrote “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” in which he argued that the frontier shaped the American identity.  That has some truth to it, but the frontier also provided a safety-valve for discontent.  Anyone unhappy with their economic situation could head west in search of greener pastures.  But the frontier closed long ago.

With few exceptions, both parties have supported the corporatist aristocracy for generations.  Once upon a time the power was held by the railroads, the trusts, and big industrialists.  These were the capitalists that Socialism rose up in opposition against.  The workers of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries may not have had televison or the internet, but they knew they were being screwed.

They tried to fight back, and many were killed or imprisoned by our government.  There are numerous instances where police and military forces were sent to break-up strikes by killing, beating and/or arresting the striking workers.  It was a long and bloody struggle for economic freedom and democracy.

Not all politicians sided with the elites, and when the people were able to organize effectively they were successful in making changes.  Theodore Roosevelt was an early champion of the people.  He is known as a “trust-buster” and help break up monopolies.  He enforced regulation of the railroad industry and enacted the first laws on food safety and purity.  He also enacted the first environmental conservation laws.

The corporatists hated him.  As governor of New York he was so effective fighting corruption and “machine” politics that he was made William McKinley’s Vice-President in order to get him out of the way.  But then McKinley was assassinated.  Upon hearing the news of McKinley’s death, Senator Mark Hanna, then one of the most powerful politicians in the country, said “That damned cowboy is president now.”

Teddy Roosevelt was part of the Progressive Movement, which lasted from about 1890 until 1920.  Many changes were enacted during that era, including Women’s Suffrage, the direct election of Senators, Prohibition, and the passage of electoral reforms at the state level, including secret ballots, the initiative and the recall.

The corporatists fought back, and regained power during the 1920’s.  Much like the conservative ascendency that reached its peak under George W. Bush, the Republican Ascendancy of the “Roaring Twenties” was so successful is led to a complete repudiation by the voters in the 1930’s.

The liberal administration of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal began a long dark age for the corporatists.  The liberal movement continued to make gains until the 1960’s and early 1970’s, and the last great acheivements were the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and SCOTUS decisions on abortion and the death penalty.  

The defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment marked the end of liberal gains, but it was nearly 50 years after FDR that the corporatists were finally successful in beginning to rollback the New Deal under Ronald Reagan.  Since then it has been a battle by liberals to hold on to the gains made by their parents and grandparents.  The entire 8 years of the Clinton administration was spent defending against the corporatists.

Bill and Hillary Clinton, like Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, are not part of the corporatist aristocracy.  In fact, they are hated by those malefactors of great wealth.  Bill Clinton was elected on a promise to provide comprehensive health care reform.  He tried to keep that promise.  He appointed Hillary to lead the effort, and she did her best.  They were defeated, not by the Republican party, but by traitors in the Democratic party that sided with the corporatists.

These treasonous Democrats in Congress and the media have been posing as liberals and progressives for decades, but they are owned body and soul by the corporatists.  They  say they love us, but they are just screwing us.  They undermined Hillary’s health care reform, and forced Bill to settle for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” instead of lifting the ban on gays in the military.

For years now they have been playing a kabuki dance with George Bush, making speeches but not providing any effective opposition.  In 2006, a disgusted electorate repudiated the GOP and elected a Democratic Congressional majority.  But that victory was basically in spite of the Democratic leadership, not because of it.  

People wanted an end to the war and the lawless behavior of the Bush Administration.  Many of us wanted Bush and Cheney impeached.  So what did the new Democratic majority do?  Not a goddamn thing.  Meet the new boss, the same as the old boss.

One of new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s first acts was to declare that impeachment was “off the table.”  There has been no effective attempt to end the war in Iraq, and continued funding for the war passes with little debate.  Congressional oversight into the activities of the Bush administration is a joke.

We now know that our government kidnaps and tortures people, operates secret prisons, and keeps people locked up without due process or the benefit of habeas corpus.  The Department of Justice has been politicized to the point of prosecuting political opponents and screening attorneys for partisan loyalty.

The administration lies, obfuscates and stonewalls, and all the Congressional Democrats do is write sternly worded letters.  They don’t even attempt to block the appointment of radical conservatives to the federal bench.  The latest outrage is the FISA bill, which among other bad things provides immunity to telecommunications giants that participated in illegal domestic spying.

The voters don’t want it, and it is anathema to liberal ideology.  It is in clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, and the immunity provisions will foreclose any independent inquiry of illegal domestic spying by the Bush Administration.  Not only is the Democratic Congressional leadership making no effort to oppose the bill, they are eager to get it passed with as little debate or publicity as possible.

This is why the Democratic leadership selected Barack Obama to be the nominee, in opposition to the will of the majority of the Democratic Party.  This is why the corporatist-owned media has pushed Obama’s candidacy and shrilly opposed Hillary.  Obama is one of them, while Hillary is not.

You don’t really think the Village hates the Clintons because they are redneck hillbillies, do you?  Bill and Hillary are both Ivy League educated lawyers, smart and sophisticated.  They are hated because they are loyal to us, not the corporatists.  That’s why the Democratic leadership wants to purge them from the party and discredit Bill’s legacy.

Senator Obama is a product of the corrupt Chicago machine.   His relationship with William Ayers isn’t about radical Sixties’ politics, it’s about Ayers’ family connection to Commonwealth Edison and Exelon.  Obama’s campaign manager, David Axelrod, is a former lobbyist and astroturfer for Exelon.  Rev. Wright and Tony Rezko are just more pieces of the puzzle that shows the shape of political corruption in Illinois. 

Despite what the media claims, Obama is and has been the “establishment” candidate.  He had their money and support from the beginning, despite his empty resume.    We were supposed to listen to the media, we were supposed to fall for the “hope” and “change” slogans, and believe he was a grassroots candidate.  We were supposed to believe that Hillary is an evil, corrupt racist.  We were supposed to believe that she was “divisive” but that Obama was going to bring “unity.”  We were supposed to be stupid, low-information voters. 

But they miscalculated.  They underestimated Hillary, and they underestimated us.  They didn’t expect her to fight so well or so long.  They didn’t expect her to win our loyalty, respect and love.  They didn’t expect her to inspire us to rise in opposition to them.

They didn’t expect PUMA


I Was There When PUMA Was Born!

July 1, 2008

PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) is one month old.  It was several months in gestation.  I think the moment of conception was some time in between the Iowa causcuses and the New Hampshire primary.  That was when the Village idiots in the MSM were prematurely celebrating Hillary Clinton’s political demise. 

But something unexpected happened.  The voters of New Hampshire, especially women voters, rallied to support Hillary, and gave her an upset victory.  Some exit surveys showed that these voters were outraged by the media’s treatment of Hillary.  Rachel Maddow called it the “Tweety Effect” because of the over-the-top Hillary bashing of Chris Matthews on MSNBC.

During the next few months there were many  more incidents that helped PUMA to form and grow.  There were the false accusations of racism leveled against Bill and Hillary by the Obama campaign leading up to the South Carolina primary.  There were reports of “irregularities” in several state caucuses.  There was the constant biased media coverage.

Most significantly, there was the conduct of the Obama supporters.  Ranging from rude and obnoxious to bullying and intimidating, these “Obots” launched attacks on Hillary and anyone who dared to support or even defend her.  Disturbingly, these attacks reeked with the stench of right-wing meme, recycled from the Nineties.

The Obots goal was to shout down and stifle anyone they disagreed with.  They were partially sucessful.  They drove Hillary supporters out of several allegedly “progressive” blogs.  But rather than be silenced, the refugees started new blogs, like The Confluence which was founded by Riverdaughter.

Hillary had a bad month in February.  After winning big on Super Tuesday (but not receiving delegates commensurate with her wins) she suffered a series of defeats, mostly in solid “red” states that will almost certainly vote GOP in November.  But she persevered, and came back to win big in Ohio and Texas.  She then went on to win landslide victories in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky.

Senator Obama on the other hand, began to stumble as the nation finally began to look closely at his record and his dubious associates.  It was obvious that the more the voters saw, the less they liked.  But the media tried to shield him, and the Democratic leadership tried to drag him across the “presumptive” finish line.

This brings us to Florida, Michigan, and the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee.  Michigan and Florida scheduled primary elections prior to the date set by the DNC.  This was done by their state legislatures, not the state parties.  The DNC, led by Donna Brazile, decreed that the two states would be stripped of all delegates.

Senator Obama, pandering to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, took his name off the Michigan ballot.  He urged other candidates to do the same, hoping to make Hillary look bad.  Several did so, but later Obama supporters were urged to vote “uncommitted.”  Obama’s name remained on the ballot in Florida.  Hillary won both states by large margins, although “uncommitted” finished second in Michigan.  The Obama campaign blocked any revote attempts in both states. 

As the campaign season progressed it became obvious that the Democratic party was facing a public relations nightmare of having disenfranchised two important states.  But the DNC leadership was unofficially supporting Senator Obama, so they were unwilling to restore the delegates because that would give Hillary the lead if not the victory.

So the RBC held a meeting to resolve the problem.  Their backroom deal is best described by meeting attendee John David Overton (aka Mawm): “Lipstick on a pig!”  The RBC not only gave Senator Obama all the uncommitted votes in Michigan, but they even awarded him some of the delegates won by Hillary!

That triggered labor, and the birth contractions began.  It was obvious to Hillary supporters that the election was fixed and that the party leadership had decided to ignore the majority of the voters and select Obama as the nominee.  It was also obvious that they were taking Hillary’s supporters for granted, assuming we had nowhere else to go and would have to support their candidate.

A few days later I joined several other Hillary supporters at The Confluence.  The overwhelming consensus was defiance to the party leadership.  Then a Conflucian posted this:

SM, on June 1st, 2008 at 3:39 pm Said:

HORRAY FOR HILLARY!!

Thank you Puerto Rico!

I am making an announcement. I am now a member of the PUMA party.

P arty
U nity
M y
A ss

Rico, give everybody a round of Barcadi & Coke on me!

 

PUMA was born!

PUMA is a uniquely grass-roots phenomenon.  We not only have no institutional support, the candidate that inspired us has endorsed the candidate we oppose.  But it’s not about her, it’s about him.

We do not, cannot, and will not support or vote for Senator Barack Obama. 

Call us names, accuse us of racism or of being Republicans, we don’t care. 

NO DEAL!


Honorary PUMA

June 29, 2008

Gee Senator Obama, I’m sure she’s just scratching her nose.


It’s Not About Hillary

June 28, 2008

     There have been numerous posts throughout Left Blogistan in the last few weeks concerning Hillary supporters. They are right about one thing. Hillary supporters are angry.

The Obama Fan Boiz (OFB) at the original pro-Obama blogs either arrogantly predict that the “true” Democrats among Hillary’s supporters will “get over it” and “come around” by November or they are trying to figure out how they can manipulate Hillary supporters to make that happen. The confident ones tend to be obnoxious and condescending, and can’t seem to stop bashing Hillary and her loyal supporters.

The others are taking a less antagonistic and more sensitive approach, advocating that the people who supported Hillary be given time to “grieve” and stressing things like party loyalty and the different type of Supreme Court appointments that Obama and John McCain would likely make. Roe v. Wade is frequently mentioned.

Both types of OFB are clueless. They don’t even know who we are, let alone what we think.

There are a number of former pro-Hillary sites that are now pro-Obama, some tepidly, some enthusiastically. They too stress party loyalty and the difference between McCain and Obama. Some consider Obama a qualified candidate but would have preferred Hillary, others consider him the lesser of two evils compared to McCain. I hold no animosity for these new Obama supporters. I understand their position, but I don’t agree.

Lastly, there are the P.U.M.A. (Party Unity My Ass) sites. Most of them are fairly new but have seen tremendous growth in the past few weeks. The denizens of these sites are sometimes referred to as “dead-enders.” Markos Moulitsas Zuniga called us a “shrieking band of paranoid holdouts.” I am a PUMA. 

The conventional wisdom is that PUMA’s are mostly older women who consider themselves feminists. The OFB think we are either are racists or GOP ratfuckers. The conventional wisdom is wrong.

PUMA’s do tend to be older than OFB’s, but we are among the demographic that is into blogging, meaning that most of us aren’t retired. We’re in our 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Many of us are male (like your truly) and most of us are above-average in education (most political bloggers are.) There are large numbers of LGBT’s in the PUMA movement, as well as racial minorities.

There is a common meme that Hillary’s supporters, being older feminists, “identified” with her and took the sexism and misogyny in the campaign personally. Speaking for myself, I found the sexism and misogyny offensive, and was shocked to see alleged “progressives” participating. I agree with Melissa McEwan that such people are “fauxgressives,” because no true progressive can be a sexist.

Many PUMA’s recall the Sixties, even if we were too young to participate in the struggles. I was born in 1960, and one of my earliest memories was the JFK assassination. I was 3 ½ half years old when he was killed, and I recall my mom coming home early from work that day, and I remember the television coverage of his death and funeral. I have clearer memories of the MLK and RFK assassinations, especially RFK because I live in California he visited my town on a whistle-stop tour in the days leading up to the primary. I remember Vietnam and the anti-war protests, Watergate, McGovern (he visited my town on a whistle-stop in 1972) and Jimmy Carter.

PUMA’s are idealists, not racists. We are judging Obama on the content of his character, not the color of his skin. His character, and his resume. Nearly all PUMA’s are long-time or life-time Democrats. Although I am ashamed to admit that when I was young and dumb I voted for Reagan, I have been a yellow-dog Democrat since 1984, and have voted straight a Democratic ticket in every election for twenty-four years. I was a liberal back when it was a dirty word.

PUMA’s remember the Nineties and the Presidency of Bill Clinton. We never thought he was perfect, and his reputation even before he was elected was such that the Lewinsky scandal was not particularly shocking or surprising. We wished he was more liberal and less “triangulating,” but his entire time in office was spent defending earlier liberal progress against an ascendent conservative GOP.

In the early Nineties, it seemed that the “Reagan Revolution” had run out of steam. But it was only pausing to catch its breath. Headed by Newt Gingrich, the GOP went on the attack in a successful attempt to win control of Congress. They had money, organization, candidate recruitment, and media support. They had “talk radio” with Rush Limbaugh and soon had their own television network in FOX News.

Part of the GOP strategy involved destroying Democratic leaders through scandal. Privately funded operations dovetailed with Congressional investigations and special prosecutors. Salacious details and unsupported allegations were promptly leaked to the media. Bill Clinton was a prominent target. Richard Mellon Scaife funded the “Arkansas Project” to find dirt on the Clintons.

“Whitewater” was the most mainstream of the investigations of Bill and Hillary’s old failed land deal. $60 million was spent by Kenneth Starr investigating that deal alone. Other “investigations” included the firing of the White House Travel Office employees, Vince Foster’s suicide, and the White House Christmas card list. Tabloid papers like the National Enquirer competed with mainstream media on stories about the Mena Airport, murder, rape, drug dealing and numerous lesser offenses, including allegations that Bill fathered a child with a black woman.

In the end, Bill Clinton was impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate for lying about a blow-job, and settled out of court with Paula Jones. But the attacks also included the propagation of meme’s about the Clintons, including that they were “divisive,” “corrupt,” “power-hungry” and “ruthless.”

For PUMA’s, the most shocking thing about this primary campaign was the way those right-wing memes were recycled and used enthusiastically by Democrats against Hillary. Even worse was the adoption by the Obama campaign, the OFB and the media of the idea that Bill and Hillary were racists, or were at least using a racist campaign strategy. This naturally led to the meme that many if not all of Hillary’s supporters were racists.

If this false and despicable story were merely the work of the media it would be bad enough, but it was clearly being pushed by the Obama campaign. There is an old saying that “politics ain’t beanbag,” but this was beyond the pale. Of course, Obama himself didn’t publically push the meme, nor did he personally push any other smears. His campaign did the dirty work, allowing him to denounce such sleazy tactics (days later, after the damage was done.)

The RFK smear, alleging that Hillary was suggesting she stayed in the race in case of (or even hoping that) Obama was assassinated was icing on the cake after the racism allegations. To most PUMA’s, falsely accusing another Democrat of racism is unforgivable. But it isn’t just these smears that motivate the PUMA’s.

Conventional wisdom among the OFB and the media is that PUMA’s think Hillary lost due to sexism and misogyny. Again, they are wrong. PUMA’s understand that sexism and misogyny (as exemplified by the male pundits at MSNBC) were at most a contributing factor in the campaign. And Obama and his campaign didn’t really demonstrate sexism or misogyny as much as they did plain old contempt for both Bill and Hillary, as well as her supporters.

Let me tell you a secret: IT’S NOT ABOUT HILLARY.

It really isn’t. It’s about Barack Obama. We don’t think he is qualified to be President. We don’t like the tactics he used in this campaign. We don’t like the way he “won,” And we especially don’t like his supporters.

When you consider that we are almost all Democrats over the age of 30, then you must realize that we have experienced losing elections before. We are not merely sore losers. If Hillary had lost to another qualified candidate, we would be disappointed but we would still support the winner. But Barack Obama is not qualified to be President. He simply does not have the necessary experience. He is just now completing his fourth year in the US Senate. Prior to that he was a part-time legislator in Illinois.

His legislative accomplishments, both in the Senate and in Illinois, are unremarkable and there is evidence they were largely unearned. His voting record in Illinois is troubling for the number of times he voted “present” or mistakenly voted the wrong way.

Senator Obama has argued that in place of experience he has superior judgment. He offers as evidence a little noticed speech he gave against the war in Iraq back in 2002, but his statements and votes since then contradict the speech. His recent statements and policy flip-flops call into question his judgment, but not nearly as much as his association with people like William Ayers, Tony Rezko, Rev. Wright, Father Phleger and others.

His supporters argue that he is an inspiring public speaker, but he has been shown to have trouble speaking without a Teleprompter, and there are questions as to whose words he uses in his speeches.

As discussed above, PUMA’s are offended by the tactics used by Senator Obama in this campaign, particularly the race-baiting. This nation bears deep scars because of racism, and we are not yet fulled healed. Falsely accusing others of racism in order to win elections is an impermissible tactic, and doing so disqualifies the offender from holding office. Period.

PUMA’s are outraged at the way the Democratic National Committee and certain Democratic party leaders manipulated the rules in order to give the nomination to Senator Obama. The Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting on May 31st was especially galling, because they took delegates away from Hillary and gave them to Senator Obama. Donna Brazile in particular will always be infamous to PUMA’s.

We are also upset at the nomination system. The patchwork of primaries and caucuses (and sometimes both) all with different rules was bad enough. But the DNC rules gave too much influence to caucuses in small “red” states. Add to that evidence that Obama supporters gamed the caucuses to skew the results, and the legitimacy of the outcome is at best questionable.

Which brings us to the Obama supporters. PUMA’s understand that many of Senator Obama’s supporters are good, decent progressive Democrats that share our values. We have no problem with those people. But there is a group of Obama supporters that are obnoxious, abusive and nasty.

These people are not progressives or liberals. The are fauxgressive libertarians. This group is overwhelming young, male, and infected with CDS. They not only drove Hillary supporters away from the “A” list blogs, they followed us to new sites and attacked us there. The things they say range from rude and condescending to abusive and threatening.

Some say we should not blame Senator Obama for the behavior of some of his supporters. That might be true, but there is an old saying that “you are judged by the company you keep.” Senator Obama did little or nothing to prevent or denounce their behavior, and in some instances he seemed to encourage it, like when he used the contemptuous “dirt off your shoulder” gesture referring to Hillary.

PUMA’s have taken a long and thorough look at Barack Obama. They have given careful consideration of all the issue and arguments made for and against his candidacy. And they have concluded that Senator Barack Obama is unfit to be President of the United States.

But he is now the “presumptive” Democratic nominee, so many people think we must support him. Rebecca Traister at Salon said:

“These angry people have nowhere else to go. So the safe expectation is that they will fall in line without much kicking and screaming. And that, ultimately, is why many of them are kicking and screaming. Yes, they’re going to vote for Obama. Of course they’ll vote for him. The truth is, they’ll probably love voting for him. But after what they feel has been done to them — the way in which they were written off, marginalized and resented, their hopes mocked and their history-making ambitions dismissed as retrograde identity politicking — damned if they’re going to be nice girls about it.”

Ms. Traister apparently didn’t bother to interview any PUMA’s before writing about them. If she had, she would have discovered that we do have options. We own our votes. They are ours, and we owe them to no one.

We will not give them to Barack Obama.

Some of us will vote for John McCain. I myself, will not. I live in California, which has been solidly blue in Presidential elections since at least 1992. If my state is “in play” next November, Senator Obama will have lost so many other states that the outcome here will not matter.

I either will not vote for any candidate for President, or I will write-in Hillary Clinton’s name. Or perhaps I will cast my ballot for a third-party candidate. I will vote down-ticket for other Democrats.

Some PUMA’s see their actions as a protest. I see it as a battle for the soul of the Democratic party. Allowing John McCain to win is bitter medicine, but necessary to purge certain elements from the party, or at least the party leadership. There is no place in the party for sexism, misogyny, race-baiting, or CDS.

Now the situation isn’t hopeless. There are alternatives. The Democratic convention isn’t until August. One alternative would be to nominate Hillary Clinton. Of course, that would anger the rabid Obama supporters, and despite their “get over it” rhetoric they would likely refuse to support Hillary.

But like I said, it isn’t about Hillary. Even though we believe her to be by far the best available candidate, there are other Democrats that PUMA’s would support. Al Gore probably tops that list, but Chris Dodd, Joe Biden and Wesley Clarke are qualified for the job, as would be Madeline Albright or Dianne Feinstein. There are others as well.

One thing the Democratic party leaders and superdelegates should have no doubt about: We aren’t bluffing.

Party Unity My Ass!