Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hillary Swings to the Right + Clock Running Out on Afghan Extra-Legal Government

There is a good piece this morning by Gaius Publius, "The Clinton Campaign Speaks to the New York Times," which combs through a Patrick Healy story, "Clinton Campaign Underestimated Sanders Strengths, Allies Say," that appeared in the Sunday edition of the paper. One of the interesting points sussed out is that the Hillary brain trust is fearful of a "wave election," which means that the Clinton campaign, contrary to its publicly stated position that it plans to win by returning the Obama coalition to the polls, is actually now running against the Obama coalition; hence the attacks on Sanders' "Medicare for All" from the right. According to Gaius Publius,
A “wave election” is one where a very large number of new voters attempt to make big changes. Very large numbers of new voters. Now go back up to the Healy comment gleaned from the Clinton campaign. Ms. Clinton is “unnerved by the possibility that Mr. Sanders will foment a large wave of first-time voters…” 
How would a “wave of first-time voters,” which would heavily drive Democratic base turnout, not be very good for the Democratic Party, as in, 2008-good. The Healy passage basically says that Hillary Clinton would trade away all of that to-the-party benefit to become the nominee, that she would be willing to seriously weaken the party so long as she could then lead it. This is almost the definition of destructive ambition. Is that a fair characterization? I think we’d have to ask Patrick Healy, as the quoted passage is his. 
Don’t forget that the quoted passage add the phrase “and liberals” to the “large wave of first-time voters” that Mrs. Clinton and her husband are “unnerved by.”Are Mr. and Ms. Clinton really “unnerved” by “liberals”? Again, the phrasing is Healy’s, but the sentiments are claimed to be those of the Clintons.
Just as the Republicans are struggling with a "wave election" of their own in the form of Donald Trump, so too are the Democrats. At this point the two hands of the duopoly are trying to beat down a democratic uprising. In the case of Hillary, her campaign team now regrets not resorting to fearmongering earlier ("A vote for Sanders is a vote to raise your taxes"; "Sanders is unelectable"). Amy Chozick outlines this in an illuminating piece that appeared yesterday, "Hillary Clinton Gets Set for a Long Slog Against Bernie Sanders," the most revealing passage of which I found to be the prediction of where the Clinton campaign's current rightward drift will end up:
Even if Mrs. Clinton wins in Iowa, where she maintains a slight lead in most polls, Mr. Sanders could receive an outpouring of small donations if the outcome is close that would help him compete in subsequent states. Mr. Sanders, a small-state senator who has never run for national office, has shown surprising fund-raising muscle. Many of his donors have yet to give him the maximum individual contribution of $2,700, meaning they could be tapped repeatedly if the contest remains close. [Good point.] His campaign raised $33 million in the final quarter of 2015, just $4 million less than Mrs. Clinton.
Mrs. Clinton’s aides say they expect to win Iowa and New Hampshire [happy talk] and are ready for the grind. A giant whiteboard on the wall of the campaign’s headquarters maps out where staff members would be sent depending on the outcomes in the early states.
“We just game out a bunch of different scenarios,” Mr. Mook said. “It’s kind of like ‘choose your own adventure.’ ”
This is not the adventure the Clinton team would have chosen.
A prolonged primary campaign against an opponent widely popular with the party’s liberal base could exhaust donors who will also be asked to contribute to an expensive campaign to defeat the Republican nominee. A contentious race against Mr. Sanders could also weaken Mrs. Clinton’s standing among Democratic voters she would need in November.
The last sentence is the obvious one, the one that loomed large last year but has yet to be given the prominence it deserves. Now it is all the more prominent because Hillary is attacking from the right. After months of this, how are you going to drive turnout among the progressive Democratic base come November? You're not.

The pro-Hillary people are hoping that a defense of the Democratic status quo -- Obamacare, for instance (see Krugman's hopeless Monday column, "Health Reform Realities") -- will allow the Clinton campaign to muddle through. But while this might be a 50%+1 strategy to win the Democratic nomination, it basically guarantees a loss in the general election (unless the Republicans manage to concoct an even more perverse strategy to nominate an Establishment-friendly alternative to Trump).

One story that is worth taking a look at is Mujib Mashal's "Afghan Panel Sets Election Date, Drawing Government Criticism." Afghanistan and the United States are intimately linked. At the end of the 1970s when neoliberalism -- the eradication of social democracy -- was taking root in a post-Vietnam, post-Watergate America, a robust militarist accompaniment was called for. Afghanistan provided it with Charlie Wilson's War, the U.S.-led, Saudi-funded proxy conflict against the Soviet Union. Then there was the post-9/11 occupation, which remains to this day despite many announcements of the end of combat operations.

 In 2014 the U.S./NATO puppet government was in danger of splitting apart because of the fraudulent election of Ashraf Ghani over his opponent Abdullah Abdullah. Secretary of State John Kerry jetted in and cobbled together an "extra-legal" agreement enshrining a unity government that made Ghani president and Abdullah chief executive.

That agreement had a sunset date, this October, and some caveats, two of which are that parliamentary elections be held before October and that a loya jirga be convened, none of which has happened. According to Mashal,
The Afghan unity government, brokered by the United States after the bitter election dispute between Mr. Ghani and Mr. Abdullah in 2014 threatened to tear the country apart, is in a race against time to meet the requirements of the political agreement it was founded on, set to expire in October. 
That agreement requires the government to hold local elections, which are already months overdue, by the time it completes two years in office in October. It is also supposed to have convened a grand assembly of elders from across the country by October to amend the Constitution and create the position of prime minister for Mr. Abdullah to move into. 
Pressure from political opposition groups has been increasing on Mr. Ghani and Mr. Abdullah in recent months. Some of the groups have warned that the government, severely pressed by Taliban offensives across the country, will lose its legitimacy if it does not hold the elections soon. Other groups have given up on the current government entirely, calling for early presidential elections to bring in a new administration.
The problem is even if there were a decision by all in government to hold elections immediately there would likely not be enough time, with war raging in Helmand Province and Islamic State on the rise in Nangarhar Province, to have elections by October.

The October surprise in the U.S. elections could be the collapse of the quisling government in Afghanistan.

No comments:

Post a Comment