The Weekly Notebook – Hillary Clinton craves a shot in 2020

Hillary Clinton craves another shot at the White House in 2020

Maureen Dowd, the accomplished columnist for the New York Times, has just returned from Australia where she was drumming up support for Clinton Inc to capture the White House at the next US Presidential election.

But she herself appears to be conflicted about the prospect. She wrote an eye-catching column in last weekend’s NYT, saying: “Some in Clintonworld say Hillary fully intends to be the (Democratic Party) nominee … And Bill has given monologues to old friends about how Hillary knows she’d have to run in 2020, that she couldn’t have big staff and would just speak her mind and not focus-group everything.”

Maureen Dowd: sceptical

Ms Dowd remained sceptical of HRC’s return to the political frontline and said so. “After the White House, the money-grubbing raged on, with the Clintons making over 700 speeches in a 15-year period, blithely unconcerned with any appearance of avarice or of shady special interests and foreign countries buying influence. They stockpiled a whopping $240 million.

“Even leading up to her 2016 presidential run, Hillary was packing in the speeches, talking to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, the American Camp Association, eBay, and there was that infamous trifecta of speeches for Goldman Sachs worth $675,000.”

She concluded her column on a more positive note writing: “Whether or not Hillary Clinton runs for president again, Clintonism is a political blight with huge staying power. It can be overcome only if and when people at the grassroots effectively insist on moving the Democratic Party to a genuinely progressive direction.”

Over on the “socialist” wing of the Democrats, Senator Bernie Sanders took Ms Dowd’s column very seriously indeed. Leading members of “Team Bernie” held an open meeting, called “The Gathering”, at the Sanders Institute in Vermont to launch a movement to draft “the Bern” as a contender in 2020.

Bernie Sanders: contender

The 77-year-old senator will be 79 at the next election and there are serious doubts about his willingness to wage a gruelling campaign. “It is a decision he has to make,” said Rich Pelletier, one of the senator’s principal lieutenants. “The press were all discounting him in 2016, so I say: ‘Let them discount him’.”

The “blue wave” which has energised the Democrats is driven by anti-Trump passions. They made some significant electoral inroads during November’s mid-term elections but although Trump lost control of the House of Representatives, as predicted, he increased his numbers in the Senate. As things stand, the Democrats are deeply divided between Clinton-Obama conservatives and Sanders leftists.

In his latest book America: The Farewell Tour, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges of the New York Times scathingly condemned the Republican-Democratic axis, writing that a “creeping coup” has been taking place in the US spearheaded by America’s “free enterprise system”.

Hedges wrote: “This coup also destroyed the credibility of liberal democracy. Self-identified liberals such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama mouthed the words of liberal democratic values while making war on these values in the service of corporate power.

“The revolt we see rippling across the country is a revolt not only against a corporate system that has betrayed workers, but also, for many, liberal democracy itself. This is very dangerous. It will enable the radical right to cement into place an Americanised fascism.”

I hope that Australia’s Hillary fan club know precisely what political forces they are aiding and abetting and shut their wallets and cheque books.

I love a sunburnt country

Growing up in North Queensland during the 1950s, bushfires, floods and drought were commonplace. They occurred every year, often all three in a single year. Sometimes they happened all at once.

You could have devastating floods sweeping through the Burdekin Valley just south of Townsville while bushfires were raging around Maryborough and the Outback was baking in drought.

In those days, radio and newspapers covered the stories with a minimum of emotion. They simply carried facts from the fire brigade and the Met office. Occasionally, if fatalities occurred, the stories became No.1 news items but otherwise it was down-page or inside page stuff.

How things have changed. Today bushfires, floods and drought are ravenously covered by all sections of the media. The reports are charged with panic and alarm and are presented with “end-of-the-world” trimmings. They thrust fragile people into existential fear and depression. Their own difficulties and dire political realities are shunted out of sight and out of mind – as they are meant to.

Bushfires rage in central Queensland

Is the current wave of natural disasters worse than in my youth? Of course it is. Terrifyingly worse. It’s largely because of climate change and the devastating impact of over-exploitation of the environment. The planet is getting warmer and human industrial activity and environmental banditry are the principal causes.

But most National MPs – and many Liberals – who represent vast electorates where flood, fire and drought destruction is overwhelming are climate deniers. They believe climate change is “crap” and support new coal-powered stations, coal mining and coal exports.

In the future their children and grandchildren will have to live with the unpleasant consequences.

School children in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart and elsewhere recently went on strike and abandoned classes to march against the brain-dead politicians who are wedded to a fossil-fuelled economy. Good on ’em.

California’s burning too

Bushfires raging through California carry a more apocalyptic message reflecting the peculiar culture of “The Golden State”.

It is the home of survivalists, doomsdayers, drop-outs, Men Going Their Own Way sub-culture, back-to-the-landers and Mother Earthers. Most love guns and many enjoy hippy drugs. Few pay taxes.

I find this a sick piquancy to the doom-laden American coverage. Californians have been among the loudest supporters of America’s overseas wars since atomic bombs were dropped on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to bring World War II to an end; only Texans, from “The Lone Star State”, are more warlike.

In Vietnam, US troops fired flame-throwers into village huts and underground tunnels burning men, women and children to a crisp. US pilots dropped napalm and Agent Orange onto villages, ricefields and wetlands killing thousands of civilians and destroying communities and crops.

Vietnam War victims

I once asked an Australian Vietnam vet what was his worst war memory. Without hesitation he replied: “Going into an underground tunnel and finding heaps of bodies of families who were burnt by flame throwers. They had gone into the underground shelter to escape the bombing.”

Did the Americans take any responsibility for what happened? I asked. “Are you kidding? They regarded them all as VeeCee or gooks or slopes.”

This is not to say that I am enjoying the misery being suffered by Californians, but nor can I get all mournful.

As the bible tells Christian Americans: “For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Epistle to the Galatians, 6:7

PS: By same token, on Wednesday this week (December 5), I did NOT join the “day of mourning” for President George Bush Snr, who made his squillions from Texas oil and doing favours for munitions manufacturers.

Remember the tremendous furore when a former KGB boss, Vladimir Putin, became Russian President? It “wasn’t fair”, the Western press howled, “he knows all our secrets.”

And under Putin, Russia overnight became a Mafia-controlled dictatorship intent on world domination.

But when Bush, a former CIA director, became US President his White House became a beacon of “democracy, liberty and freedom”.

How does that work?

Ned Kelly nailed it

When Premier Dan Andrews won the Victorian election it marked not only a massive defeat for the Liberals but for the Police Association as well.

The association’s heavies cast aside their “neutrality” and ran a political campaign against Andrews. The lobbying, which took place mainly through Rupert Murdoch’s Herald-Sun and Sky News, depicted Victoria as being in the grip of a crime wave perpetrated by “African gangs”. Senior cops were careful not to leave their fingerprints on the overtly anti-Labor, pro-Liberal campaign.

The right wing of the Liberal Party in Canberra entered the State election campaign accusing the Andrews government of “leniency” on crime and whipping up a media hysteria against “Black gangs”.

The gushing support for the cops ended the day after Andrews’ landslide victory. The re-elected Premier announced a Royal Commission into how the Victorian police used a top female barrister as an informer to convict hundreds of crime figures.

Cops, judges, lawyers, politicians and journalists have known about this arrangement for years and years. It was an open secret. Police forces all over Australia, but particularly in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and WA, have “verballed” defendants and had them put away for years on trumped-up charges. I’m only guessing but it seems likely that Andrews decided to have a judicial inquiry into the illegal activities of the cops. It’s called a “square up”.

Bushranger Ned Kelly’s description of the State’s coppers was written in a document he gave to a bank clerk at Jerilderie in 1879 after the Kelly gang had robbed it.

Ned Kelly, played by Heath Ledger in the 2003 film

Kelly bitterly complained that he had ben “wronged” and his mother and sisters persecuted by “the brutal and cowardly conduct of a parcel of big ugly fat-necked wombat-headed big-bellied magpie-legged narrow-hipped splay-footed sons of Irish Bailiffs or English landlords which is better known as officers of Justice or Victorian Police … “

Accusing them of telling lies in court, Kelly concluded: “A policeman is a disgrace to his country not alone to the mother that suckled him … he is a rogue in his heart. Next he is a traitor to his country, ancestors and religion … “

While Kelly is celebrated in art, culture and memory, will Victorians pay the same tribute to senior Victorian Liberals and their Federal counterparts who ran the sordid election strategy against Premier Andrews? I don’t think so.

Dumbest Idea of the Week

Katharine Murphy of The Guardian

Katharine Murphy, political editor of Guardian Australia, has told ABC Television’s Insiders programme that she wants to see the creation of a new federal caucus exclusively for women MPs.

Ms Murphy believes women MPs, “across the aisles”, should hold regular caucus meetings to discuss common problems.

Presumably it would bring together Julie Bishop, Pauline Hanson, Concetta Fierravanti- Wells, Jacqui Lambie and Kerryn Phelps.

What self-respecting female MP would abandon their political principles and party allegiances to participate in such a kumbaya frolic? Senator Penny Wong? I don’t think so.

Potential members of the all-female caucus want  to raise the voice for women in Parliament. So do i. But I have yet to hear any of them advocate giving a voice to the Parliament for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

That’s what last year’s Statement from the Heart put forward – a First Nations Voice as an advisory body, essential to the process of Makarrata (coming together after a struggle). Now that’s a serious proposal. And it was contemptuously rejected by the Coalition government, male and female.

Ms Murphy is an accomplished and highly esteemed political reporter. She has a finely-tuned nose for news and has an array of contacts across all parties in Canberra and the bureaucracy. What she lacks is an appreciation of history, tradition or philosophy. She should put away her iPhones and read a few books.

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