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Web Letter

This little editorial is really a perfect example of the problem all dissidents for democracy face: all trees, no forest. Feminist trees, anti-racist trees... Powerful trees, important trees, justice-seeking trees. But no forest. Not even a hint of the real forest. The writer believes in trees. In treeness. In the individual tree. In the glory of the diversity of trees. All manner of trees. Believes in trees working together. And s/he is willing to lionize the nominal feminist tree (Clinton) and the nominal anti-racist tree (Obama). But neither of them are lions about these issues. In fact, both have avoided these issues. Does that make them holier-than-lions--i.e., morally higher than the outspoken feminists and anti-racists themselves? Not at all.

The forest is the System--the hyper-capitalist, globalist, corporatocratic system. That's the system we should all be fighting. Fight and win that battle and the good and true issues of feminism and anti-racism will be enjoined, addressed, and seriously dealt with.

But the older feminists are willing to lionize Clinton who is no feminist. And Obamaphiles are willing to lionize another charismatic who knows how to make people believe him.... And both camps do so because they believe in the System, by God! But the System is broken. It is rotten. It's out of control and isn't humanistic. It cannot be fixed from within. The System must be changed fundamentally. The American Dream is dead, because it was only a dream, not real, nor plausible.

Yes, let's break the race barriers, the glass gender ceiling--everyone shouts and dances with passionate intensity. All the while the fat pigs who really control things, who believe in "natural law," the law of the jungle, that might makes right, in scarcity-not-abundance, in "get-it-while-the-getting's-good"-- they're going to the bank with your last-week's paycheck.

Neither Clinton nor Obama are going to get us out Iraq any time soon. Read their records.

Obama can't control the forces arrayed about him, even were he to somehow win. And Clinton--who wants her husband back in the White House eight more years. She's an Iraq-war enabler. The Planet--the real Goddess--Mother Earth--cannot afford their disconnection to the Planet, the real Goddess, Mother Earth; it cannot abide any longer.

I will campaign for Obama and against Clinton, however: because the people who follow Obama today are the young and hopeful, because they will see sooner than others when Obama shows he really doesn't understand the whole picture. And they will tell him; they will demand his attention. The people who follow Clinton, on the other hand, are either nimnals who believe that the system of the American Dream is still viable, or perhaps they, like the author, desperately want to break the glass ceiling of gender more than anything else in the world. Both are blindered.

If I see that the majority are incapable of true and decisive change, or are unwilling to seriously risk their creature comforts, what can I do but think that a meltdown sooner rather than later is the better way of it? And a meltdown is coming.

Those are my serious thoughts. Now for a little prognostication, which, of course, is much less serious.

Clinton is going to play dirtier and dirtier in this campaign; she already is--witness the "3 am" ad. While Obama's going to have more delegates going into the convention, the superDs are going to throw it to Clinton. I, and many, many others, are going to come unglued at this. Obama will then foment a real third party thrust. And it may just work--'er, well, almost. At the last minute, sometime in September or October, Israel is going to do something stupid, like bomb Iran. Bush is going to back the move. Americans will become very afraid. And then McCain will win.

By the 2012 election, the third party is going to be fired up and really ready to go. Obama will then become President as a third party candidate. First time in over 150 years. Perhaps he will have his eyes opened by then.

I like Hillary... no more than I liked Slick Willy. Both are documentable betrayers of the democratic trust and carry outsized egos.

Lanny Cotler

Willits, CA

Mar 9 2008 - 5:03pm

Web Letter

It's comforting to know these powerful female lionesses of politics and academe are going to solve the core conflicts of race and gender in this campaign by having blueberry muffins together on Saturday mornings, while us male lions sleep in, yawning and licking ourselves, sounding the occasional roar so the women know we're still around, even as they've gone off to fix everything without our (unnecessary) help.

But what of the darkest angels of our capitalist nature that were unleashed during the past twenty-five years of the "tech boom," elevated and celebrated by the Bush "administration" (read Carlyle Group and Exxon/Mobil) in our foreign "policy" ($3.40 a gallon of gas, up from $1.40 in 2000--"success"); our virtual celebration of perpetual war and militarism, against the perpetually invading Islamic Hoardes, as the New Neocon "New Deal"; our Neo-Robber Baron economy; our regression to nineteenth-century Social Darwinism; our descent into a mass culture of "branding" everything from ethics and morality to illegal immigration to TV religion to sex to crime to athletes to political candidates to the revealed myth of "democracy"; dumbed down and spoon-fed "media" (corporate PR) and TV "news," saturated in numbing lights and cookie-cutter sound effects to replace intelligent content or unvarnished information; and pervasive hard-core pornography, instantly accessible on the web to anyone, including kids--who live in a world grossly undersupervised by legions of distracted, often moronic, stressed out, obese, frequently irresponsible parents--by an ever-expanding array of hand-held devices, that makes even the most secular progressive (like me) wonder why--despite the wonders of technology, space travel, George Bush's communion with Jesus and trillions spent on war and conquest--we're all going to Hell in a handbasket, and taking our children down the rat hole with us?

I know this monumental, chaotic mess has been orchestrated and carried out solely by men, while the women were all otherwise engaged in someone's affluent salon, sipping latte and discussing how to "bring us all together" in a shining union of the feminist and civil rights movements. Once this alliance is joined, all the other stuff will be set right... the greed, the institutional mendacity, the thousands of young, misguided, underachieving females screwing and blowing on film for money--all controlled by evil men of course--the sham of a public education system that dumps so many thousands of poor, semi-literate kids into the adult world with no skills and little hope (primary and secondary public school teachers in this country are overwhelmingly female, but there must be men somewhere in the system f'ing it all up), and the military, where there are absolutely no women present in any capacity and men make all the bad decisions.

Hillary of course will fix it, the same way Margaret Thatcher's informed female sensibilities and leadership fixed Great Britain (as in the Falkland Islands war), and Jane Byrne fixed Chicago a generation ago (before they brought another Daley back), and Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, along with Hillary and several other female senators, have fixed the Senate of the United States, a body characterized by institutional inertia and political cowardice, and the fact that a 90-year-old, grossly infirm, former segregationist wind machine by the name of Robert Byrd is third in line of succession to the president of the US.

She'll bring in Donna Shalala and Mandy Grunwald and Madeline Albright and Marion Wright Edelman... that should do it. Bill can plan the WH dinners for a change, when he isn't "preoccupied." Boy, what male political professional or lawyer or career Marine or CIA operative wouldn't want to work for the first woman President? What an experience that will be! Especially reporting to someone as "warm and funny" (Samantha Power's recent apologetic description of the "true" Hillary) as a madame president Clinton. Just like The West Wing: Martin Sheen in a pantsuit.

I'm feeling much safer and more secure down here in Florida knowing that these high-powered women up in New York and Washington are making all these bad problems go away, just like my mom did for me when I was a boy. I say let them into the Masters, the NFL and MLB... C'mon, how can they screw things up, really? Oh, by the way, I'm off my meds.

Stewart Braunstein

Deerfield Beach, FL

Mar 9 2008 - 12:07pm

Web Letter

Whatever conclusions one makes regarding race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and class, four decades of discussion is enough and certainly have surpassed their expiration date. The truly progressive time should be now, as we begin a journey of discussion as to what connects us all as one or, at the very least, what is our commonality. My suspicion is that it will take a lot less than several decades to resolve.

And incidentally, regarding "We thought of all that has happened in just seven short but disastrous years of the Bush Administration, and we asked: how might we position ourselves so we're not fighting one another?"

Though certainly no fan of President Bush nor supporter of him, I would think that with the emphasis of this article being race and gender, the word "disastrous" is inappropriate. Acknowledging that there have been horrible mistakes made these past years by the current Administration when emergencies were dealt with wretchedly and in ways sometimes branded by critics as racist, it is imperative though not necessarily convenient to recognize that no other US President has done more for people of black and mixed races than Bush, in supporting financial assistance to those afflicted with AIDS in Africa. Predictably, from certain circles there are the expected accusations of this as being a merely political move, but even with disdain for the President, certainly this action has been enormously significant. And why does this article not cite that no one has exceeded our current President in his appointment of of women and minorities to Cabinet-level positions ? Within twenty-four appointments, there have been in his Cabinet five women, four African-Americans, three Hispanics and two Asian-Americans. After all, isn't the crux of the article that race and gender matter monumentally?

And most specious of all comments in this article is the following: "On the one hand, we celebrate the unprecedented moment in which a black person and a female person have risen to the lead in the Democratic race for President of the United States. On the other hand, both of them are constantly pressed to deny their race or gender, to 'transcend' it, to prove by their very existence that misogyny and racism no longer exist. This, even as both are popularly and reductively caricatured in perniciously stereotypical ways. Clinton as a woman with balls, Obama as 'unqualified' and 'grandiose,' Chelsea Clinton being 'pimped' by her mother while Bill O'Reilly declares that Michelle Obama should be 'lynched.' "

This commentary reflects total preoccupation with skin color and gender while simultaneously and disingenuously criticizing that very focus. The entire endeavor is pointless at this time and unfortunately more an indictment of media tactics than anything else in America . Men and women of varying skin tones have already attained far more than becoming candidates for the presidency of the United States. For years they have been serving as Supreme Court Justices and within the highest ranks of US presidential cabinets. Or are these individuals not deserving of the writer's recognition because they have not adhered to a liberal or other preferred agenda? If so, then one would surmise that the article's main point is that it's not just race and gender but a preconceived political agenda that is requisite for our presidential candidates.

And then there is the scurrilous misquote of commentator Bill O' Reilly that states he said that Michelle Obama should be "lynched." In fact, O'Reilly was speaking in defense of Ms. Obama to a caller to his radio program when she attempted to malign the candidate's wife without basis with the response, "I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama." Surely, the cavalier misquoting of one's enemies serves a purpose in creating hurt, anger and divisiveness while unfairly diminishing the speaker. In this case, however, it reflects a hypocrisy of the article, which implores voters to get past differences even while its very words incite ill will and division.

Finally, I must point to the comment that "in the confusion of this triumphalist but precarious moment, therefore, it is important that the alliance between a now global feminism and a now global civil rights movement not be turned against itself and ultimately defeated."

It is more likely that confusion shall continue and increase as long as outdated notions of diversity and preoccupation with who among us is the most victimized take precedence over common sense. With the realization that we reside in the most privileged nation in the world, the best in us won't give a hoot about a candidate's skin color, gender or, worse, whether or not they are a symbol of somebody's idealistic utopia. Rather we will seek out the very best person who has the courage and fortitude to do what is right for all Americans, without being beholden to any one segment of society. To do otherwise would be a failure of unimaginable consequences.

Elizabeth Ann Molo

Los Angeles, CA

Mar 5 2008 - 8:37pm

Web Letter

Does this really matter?

What this article describes is a bunch of ex-movement leaders who don't appear to get that they have rendered themselves irrelevant to their alleged following because when times and issues changed, they didn't. They became part of the Democratic Party establishment and stopped listening to their followers just like the rest of that establishment did.

The leaders made great contributions in the past, but what have they done for us lately? Given the word from on high that women must support Hillary?

A DLC candidate like Hillary Clinton is a friend of corporate interests "represented by K Street" (as Hillary herself put it) and has neither clue about nor interest in the economic concerns of working-class or middle-class people, regardless of sex, age, gender, or sexual preference. And slapping a "feminist" label on her isn't going to stop women, particularly younger ones, from moving to Obama.

These "women's movement leaders" need to start listening, not lecturing. Or find a way to fade gracefully into the history books.

A. Lizard

San Francisco, CA

Mar 2 2008 - 6:59am

Web Letter

"If we could get over our fixation on a fantasy that many of us hoped to see realized in our lifetimes..." Ah, but that would mean determining discussion and political action around policy, not personal grievance (a k a, "identity"). How sad that the so astutely termed politics of resentment now thoroughly infiltrates both right and left.

Hillary has been a war-enabler. Bush's tortuous depredations--foreign, domestic, economic, constitutional--are inseparable from the consensual "pre-emptive" attack that reduces others to flyblown collateral damage.

Edwards engaged root economic causes; Obama would not sign off on Evil Empire II.

A Democratic dream team of any sense or integrity ought to be these two--a black man, supported by a Southern white male--and not because, but regardless, of identity.

Mark Edwin Francis

Seattle, WA

Mar 2 2008 - 12:29am

Web Letter

What in the world are those women doing, sitting with the good china in anguish over the way the choice between Clinton and Obama is impinging on their relationships?

It really seems ridiculous for enlightened people to be at all seriously caught up in the surface qualities of black-ness and female-ness in thinking about or working on this election campaign. Only think of Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell; or, cap it off with the worst of both worlds: Condoleeza Rice, for God's sake!

"It's a class struggle, Goddammit!" (Fred Hampton) And so far both your breakthrough candidates have shown themselves to be thoroughly committed to the side of the war-mongering, mass-murdering, tax-avoiding, corporate-control- defending-and-enhancing Mammonite elite that has ruled this country since about the time Shay's Rebellion was neutralized. And especially Hillary, who has never shown the slightest pretense of separation from that power. Isn't that exactly where she got her vaunted "experience" after all, that's meant to show she will be ready to run things "from day one"? On the inside?

The choice that has to be made is political, not emotional-sentimental; cold-blooded, with a very long term in view. Without feeling the least bit deluded about where he's at right now--especially in, e.g., his ghastly sellouts to AIPAC and the hedge-fund crowd, trying to "win" at all costs--it still seems to me that Barack is the clear choice, for two main reasons (which may be different aspects of the same thing):

First, Hillary has always been solidly rooted in, part of and committed to the top-down insider system of rule, and still obviously feels and thinks that way, regardless of the many opportunistic populist poses she strikes these days at the behest of the high-powered cabal of schemers and "handlers" who think for her. It is abundantly clear that she/they have no notion of trying to actually mitigate, let alone end, the catastrophic growing plague of world domination by the US military-economic machine. Like her husband before her, her mission as President would be to smooth the rough edges created by the heedless power-tripping of the predecessor regime; to put the mask back on...

Barack, where he's at right now, seems not much different; but it appears he has little choice if he wants to stay in the game, and he has been quite different in the past. He's been pals with Rashid Khalidi and Edward Said, for example; so there's no question but that he understands--or at least knew at one time--the whole truth about Palestine, and Zionist militarism, which (with the oil) lies at the heart of the problems in the Middle East. And he's worked at street level in Woodlawn and Altgeld Gardens--and the Illinois state senate, another jungle--so there's no doubt he has seen the country and the world from the bottom up.

There's also no doubt that, as a black man in America, he has concrete experience with in-your-face bigotry, and what it takes to weather it and keep on trying; whereas she's been in the lap of white-skin privilege all her life. So, he has been--and therefore must be potentially again--way more in tune with the world majority, whose short-term fortunes and long-term fate depend absolutely on throwing off the yoke of Mammon and Moloch, and their lunatic devotees who run everything. So we can really (possibly dare to) hope for more from him in the way of humane leadership (if he gets in, and lives...). That seems clear.

Secondly, the country and the world and the live elements in their populations are obviously much more deeply affected and potentially moved to serious action by his candidacy, and the possibility of his getting in office, than by either of the establishmentarians running against him. That may not mean much about what he right now intends or plans to do, despite the strong current of authenticity in his rhetoric. (After all, McCain is plenty authentic in his rhetoric, no? about a Hundred Years of American war in the Middle East; or a thousand, if he has his way--in keeping with his past, as a bomber pilot in a similarly murderous, illegal war, who slaughtered people he never saw from thirty thousand feet, with high explosives, napalm, Agent Orange; and as a war criminal, spared by his captors when he was shot down; although they evidently mistreated him, as far as we know, they never put him in a pile of naked bodies, or pissed on his Bible, or stripped him and led him around on a leash...)

So, but, I mean, if Barack gets in--indeed already, just by getting this far--forces are unleashed, and feelings (e.g., "hope") on a broad scale, that may prove uncontrollable by the ruling elites, with or without his cooperation, or co-optation.

That is, it's not really about him (if only he'd say it!); its about the fate of the earth, in the crisis brought about by the usurpers who took over the government of our country, and worked so much death and destruction and downward spiral with its power, in seven short years. Neither Democrat talks much about rollback, and all the needed undoing that has to come first if they win--let alone about the election of solid majorities in both Houses, absolutely needed, if either one is to get to first base with anything they have in mind, in the way of change...

That's how the game is played, I guess; but isn't that the point: to change the game? It's not going to be changed from the top, no matter who gets in; but Hillary is not about changing it at all: she's about running it, as is. That's why she's so cagey about the war(s)--and taxes and regulation and bailouts and everything the money worshipers want... Barack is cagey too, no doubt about it; and he might not ever do any more than she would; but he might, because he's not made the same as she is; as a matter of class, that is...

More to the point, so might others, people and forces who got some inspiration, grit and breathing room from a movement that succeeded in getting him elected (if he lives). Like it or not, those of us who hope to save the world from Mammon and Moloch must, precisely, deal in hope; and our hope must be that masses of people will wake up, and do something real about change. To have a black president, or a woman president (or candidate) is a change on the surface only, as witness the Iron Lady and the token Justice et al. Barack's message about hope and change has started something deeper; however much or little he may truly believe in it or live up to it himself; it's loose in the world, and we have to hope it does change things, and work to help that happen, for real. Time is short. The black v. woman debate is paper-thin; let's get real.

Dennis Cunningham

San Francisco, CA

Mar 1 2008 - 10:10pm

Web Letter

I believe this article shows how out of touch this very group, and, in a greater sense, those who are represented therein, are. This election year is far from the issues of -isms. Each and every issue has its overwhelmingly practical aspects. This is what the people are acting upon. I am not disparaging intellect. Rather, the intellect often has an hypnotic ability to dissociate one from the world. If we hone our policies and approaches to their real foundations, we find that the Democratic campaign is neither about race nor sex. Change is far more than a campaign slogan to the people. And when looking toward change, we seek the whole package. As a gay man, I don't care much about dissection; there are hands-on matters which need addressing. In Texas, for example, Sen. Obama directly spoke against discriminatory policies and attitudes against gays. He does not need to look any deeper than his sense of fair play. One common element among effective Presidents has been rhetorical skill and the hands-on fashioning of change. They left the deeper thoughts to the deeper thinkers.

Staggo Lee

Seattle, WA

Mar 1 2008 - 9:04pm

Web Letter

It is really shocking that these smart women haven't yet got it figured out. How did they end up in this fix? They got snookered by the corporate-owned media, that's how. Have they asked themselves how it happened that before a caucus was held or a vote cast there, for all intents and purposes, only two candidates in the race. Joe Biden and Chris Dodd got nary a mention. Neither did Bill Richardson.

Why? Because corporate America and their media wanted to stop John Edwards. A couple actually announced to Washington pundits that Edwards was the candidate they feared the most. They had to do something before campaigning even got underway. So they elevated a virtually unknown black Senator with little experience in the spotlight to be one of the two choices. We were presented with the rather titillating choice of a white woman or a black man. Woo! woo! Which would it be?!

The candidate that had real programs for real people got little to no coverage. Was constantly told he should get out of the race. Obama got the most favorable coverage of any candidate because the media had to keep lifting him up to make sure he "took."

And it worked. When are we going to stop letting the big guns pick our candidates?

Mary L. Wentworth

Amherst, MA

Mar 1 2008 - 8:43pm

Web Letter

What is interesting to me about the description of this “kaffeeklatch” is that it was intended as an “open letter,” but it read as a report from “the society page” of an antiquated newspaper. Attendance was reported, pedigree established by the use of “old china,” and lofty ideas no doubt floated around the room for hours. What is missing is accountability and action.

Action is what NY Feminists for Peace and Barack Obama demonstrated in their thoughtful endorsement before the NY primaries and accountability in their deciding process. These two measures speak most clearly and effectively to furthering a feminist perspective that includes an understanding “that war and peace are as much "women's issues" as are health, the environment and the achievement of educational and occupational equality.

I am thankful that those who gathered for breakfast were willing to discuss their choices. Perhaps, upon reflection, they will be moved toward action and will answer the questions that Seymour Friendly raised in his letter of response or as Tom Hayden so succinctly queried, “Who wants to measure slavery against the Inquisition?” Perhaps they will see that their work for the last four decades and the efforts of others before them have been successful. A growing number of people are feminists and they are making their decisions on facts that are not influenced by gender, race, fraternities or sororities.

Pauline Shaver

San Francisco, CA, CA

Mar 1 2008 - 5:00pm

Web Letter

But here's the deal. What did they decide to do? Talk some more? Not that that's a bad idea. However, the article did not specifically describe how, as friends, they are handling their differences over which candidate they support for the nomination. Realistically, I guess all they can do at this time--and I guess the article implicitly says this--is what my friends and I have done: agree not to let our friendships be spoiled by our differences over which Dem hopeful we have chosen to vote /cheer/work/donate $ for. And to continue in our common zeal to whip the ever-loving hell out of the Republicans in November.

I have at least three very dear friends--and several other close acquaintances (just counting women here) who are pulling for Hillary. They say things like, "My mother would never forgive me [or she'd roll over in her grave, or the like] if there were a qualified woman running for President and I didn't support her." I totally get that.

One friend is convinced that Obama doesn't have the chops to withstand what the Republicans are going to throw at him if he gets nominated. Nor, she believes, does he have enough relevant experience to outrank Hillary as the best candidate for the Democrats. Plus, as this woman points out, Hillary's healthcare plan is better than his!

This is where I respond that Americans simply do not and never will elect Presidents or even choose candidates based on the minute differences in the details of their policy proposals. Anyway, and simply put, to have a detailed legislative plan for a new program is not necessarily to stand a chance in hell of getting it passed, even if you do win the election.

But, see, that's the thing: you just can't really have these discussions with your good women friends without fearing that you'll say something so impassioned in disagreeing with them that you will piss them off. Which you don't want to do! That's the problem. Agreeing that we vigorously oppose the Republicans is not a problem!

To me, the "Obamanon" seems to be about people for once noticing someone they think can be a leader who will not only unite us but also start to repair the broken (or abandoned) machinery for governing this country, and in addition bring back to our side many of the nations and groups we have so rudely, unnecessarily and disastrously alienated under Mr. Bush. Could Hillary do this, too? Maybe part of it. But the baggage she carries, the hysterical hatred from the ignorant right, is a huge problem. Which is why so many of us were always uncomfortable with the idea of her candidacy. But there it is--another thing you can't say to your women friends if you don't want to raise hackles.

Agreeing to work vigorously against any Republican is an easy thing for women friends to agree upon. Deciding what to do about Hillary's candidacy is harder, but amounts to this, mostly: we just don't talk about it with friends we know are committed to her.

Joan T. Hancock

Raytown, MO

Mar 1 2008 - 12:55pm

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