Sunday, July 31, 2016

To Label Tulsi Gabbard A "Progressive" Is To Eviscerate The Very Meaning Of The Word And Stand It On Its Head


Tulsi loves Islamophobic genocidal Indian fascist Narendra Modi

I don't really know Tulsi Gabbard. When she was running for Congress in 2012 she called and asked for a Blue America endorsement. Her opponent was Mufi Hannemann, an especially contemptible conservative and a real nightmare for progressives. But Gabbard had some problems of her own. Her Republican family led the anti-gay crusade in Hawaii. Her father, a fount of homophobic psychosis is a state Senator who switched parties-- though not ideology-- so he could have more influence. I was worried about Tulsi but she sounded pretty good in our discussion, especially in regard to what I sensed to be anti-war instincts and pro-environmental instincts. I was leaning towards recommending an endorsement but when I asked her about the homophobic stance that she claims to have shed, she grew brittle and quickly ended the conversation, saying she'd call back. She never called back and Blue America never endorsed her. She beat Hannemann in the primary for the Hawaii seat that encompasses basically all of the state outside Honolulu and went on to quickly earn an "F" from ProgressivePunch. Her crucial vote score (73.46) makes her the 142nd "most progressive" Member of Congress, i.e., very much not progressive.

Before getting married in 2015, she was dating GOP Mafia thug Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm, before he was arrested, tried and imprisoned in a case that didn't even touch on over 90% of his criminal life. Even worse, she often worked across the aisle to further the GOP agenda, joining the widely discredited Republican front organization for dummy-Dems, No Labels. And then she was righteously outraged by Debbie Wasserman Schultz's DNC cheating on behalf of Hillary and everything changed for Tulsi. She denounced Wasserman Schultz, quit the DNC and endorsed Bernie, with whom she shared almost no policy goals, other than some anti-war stands.

Tulsi's district is one of the bluest in America-- the PVI is D+21, even more Democratic than the Honolulu district. Obama won the district against McCain 73-25% and beat Romney 71-27%. There are no political reasons to amass a Republican-lite record and turn herself into an anti-Obama Fox regular. She's done it because it's who she is and it's what she believes. She may keep her homophobia under wraps, but she's released it with Islamophobia and she sounds uncomfortably more like Trump than like Bernie. Like Trump, she also been an outspoken admirer of Vladimir Putin's. In the August 13 primary she faces an actual progressive challenger, author Shay Chan Hodges. (Unfortunately, as of the June 30 FEC filing deadline, Gabbard had raised $1,361,505 and spent $558,948, while Hodges had raised $3,104 and spent $147.

Last week, Tim Mak became one of the few national journalists to give the race a look. In his post for the Daily Beast, Tulsi Gabbard: The Bernie-Endorsing Congresswoman Who Trump Fans Can Love, pointed out the absurdity of her progressive red when "her stances on standard liberal issues like gun rights and immigration are starting to converge with those of Donald J. Trump... She’s a lawmaker who has a soft spot for dictatorial regimes. She pals around with Sheldon Adelson. She’s declined to sign onto an assault weapons ban. She opposes admitting refugees. She a frequent fixture on Fox News, where she has slammed the president over his refusal to use the term “Islamic extremism” to refer to terror attacks. Sounds a lot like The Donald."
“I am little skeptical about how deep her progressive roots run,” said John Bickel, treasurer for Progressive PAC, a Hawaii state organization that endorses candidates on the left. Still, he is, at the moment, supporting Gabbard for reelection. “Tulsi Gabbard shows up in places and gets in front of the camera, spinning herself as a progressive-- but I’m not sure her record backs up what she’s created as a public persona.”

The bizarre policy overlap between Trump and Gabbard, a Bernie Sanders supporter and rising star in her party’s progressive wing, illustrates the connections between Trump and Sanders’s brands of populism. Trump is hoping to capitalize on the working-class frustration that both appeal to, with explicit calls for Sanders supporters to support his campaign, as he enters the Republican National Convention. It’s a temptation for rank-and-file Democrats that Hillary Clinton’s campaign no doubt has an eye on. Gabbard has been a favorite of Fox News, where she diverged from the typical Democratic Party line on the term “Islamic extremism.” Democrats such as Bernie Sanders-- whom Gabbard endorsed-- have stayed away from such phrases because, they argue, it suggests that the United States is at war with the Muslim religion itself.

“It is crazy,” Gabbard said on an HBO talk show, of Democratic refusals to use the term. “They do matter, words mean things, and this is what we need to look at as we look at how do we identify our enemies so that we can defeat them?”

Trump’s views on foreign policy have overthrown a generation’s worth of conservative thinking on the matter: His tolerant stance on dictators like Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin shocked much of the right’s national security intelligencia. But it meshed well with Gabbard’s thinking.

In March, Gabbard was the only Democrat and one of just three members of Congress to vote against a resolution condemning violence by the Assad regime against civilian populations.

“Bad enough US has not been bombing al-Qaeda/al-Nusra in Syria. But it’s mind-boggling that we protest Russia’s bombing of these terrorists,” Gabbard wrote in September, on the first day of the Russian intervention in Syria.

Firstly, Gabbard is wrong that the U.S. has not struck al Nusra in Syria-- it has-- and secondly, her position aligns nicely with Trump’s: He called those strikes a “positive thing.” Russia is responsible for attacking U.S. backed opposition forces in Syria.

“By endorsing Bernie early and resigning from the DNC, Gabbard made clear she is vying for leadership of the next generation of left-liberals galvanized by Sanders presidential run. However, given that her and Donald Trump’s foreign and refugee policies are in lock step, real progressives should be wary of her qualification for that role,” said Evan Barrett, a political adviser to the Coalition for a Democratic Syria, a Syrian-American opposition umbrella group.

The Hawaii congresswoman was also one of just 47 Democrats who voted for a bill that would make it all but impossible to admit new refugees into the United States.

“Her vote with Republicans against admitting Syrian refugees caused a lot of heartburn here. Most of the people who are drawn towards her are sweet, gentle souls… so when they see her being heartless in that case, that is at odds of their idealization of who she is,” said a prominent Democratic activist in Hawaii. “She is the Republican right-wing’s favorite Democrat. I think both Trump and Gabbard appeal to a populist sensibility.”

And oddly enough, considering her state’s reliance on the tourism industry, she mirrored Trump’s overreach on immigration issues by calling for European passport holders to be forced to apply for tourist visas, citing terror concerns. Europeans currently have a waiver to visit the United States for leisure-- more than 143,000 European visitors traveled to Hawaii in the past year, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

But foreign policy is not the only realm where Gabbard and Trump see eye to eye: She is also wishy-washy on gun control. Trump opposes a ban on assault weapons, a flip-flop from his prior positions; Gabbard, meanwhile, is conspicuously missing from Democrat efforts to legislate the issue. Eighty percent of Democrats, including fellow Hawaii Democrat Rep. Mark Takai, are co-sponsors of a bill that would ban so-called assault weapons-- Gabbard is not among them.

...When given a chance to condemn Trump, such as with this story, Gabbard avoids the topic-- and in the past, she has avoided harsh words for the Republican businessman. “One of the many problems I see with Trump is I don’t know what he believes. I don’t know what he would do,” Gabbard said in one such interview, before pivoting to criticism of Hillary Clinton. “I have raised and continue to see concerns with Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy.”

That a Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii could have so many overlapping policies with the presumptive Republican nominee for president is perplexing. But it’s yet another reminder of the unorthodox campaign season that America is now undergoing-- and the ways in which both extremes of the Republican and Democratic parties are converging in strange ways.

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At 8:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


It's best to not comment on things that one doesn't entirely understand. I am one of your fervent readers. And, I pretty much agree with you on most all things. But, this is is one of your posts that I COMPETELY DISAGREE with you on.

I grew up in India, and still understand and follow the politics in India. I came to India for doctoral studies. I am currently a professor at a major research university in the US.

You label Mr. Narendra Modi "Islamophobic genocidal Indian fascist", and that is not even close to the truth. He might be the leader of the right-wing party of India. But, he is not even close to being a fascist. The right wing party in India is far-far to the left of today's Democratic party in the US. Narendra Modi is one of the better Prime Ministers of India. And, I want to assure you that he is very balanced when it comes religious diversity in India. He has worked hard to get to where he is. And, unlike today's leaders of the Dem and GOP parties in the US, Narendra Modi has actually worked hard for income equality. He has worked quite hard for religious equality as well. Yes, he can do more for religious equality. But, to label him "a fascist" is absolute rubbish.


At 8:43 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Sal, you are welcome to disagree with me but don't feel so certain I'm ignorant of India. First of all, was probably there before you. The first of my more than a dozen trip to India was in 1969 and I stayed for nearly 2 years-- and very much on the ground. I've been writing about Modi for many years and by chance often wound up in India in the midst of his various elections. Being a fascist doesn't necessarily mean extolling Hitler and I am well aware that upper middle class Hindus tend to forgive Modi his horrifying excesses and that he's working hard to behave like a normal political leader now. But it's hard not to look at the entirety of his record and come up with the conclusion that he's much more India's Trump than just the equivalent of a right-wing Democrat. Some of my old Modi posts:

At 10:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to see your response, DWT. You were actually very kind regarding Modi in your post and kind in your comment reply to Sal. Also, the use of the word 'genocidal' was a textbook description. I'll add this link to further describe the blindness and denial of people like Sal (who may be a paid P.R. hack, from the fawning Heidi-esque nature of his words).

At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's agree to disagree. DWT, though I disagree with it completely, I can appreciate your perspective given that you've at lived in India for sometime. However, the Anonymous responder sending in a link from "The Guardian" about India - that's truly high brow.

At 11:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not clear what, exactly, is so terribly problematic about anyone having "views on foreign policy (that) have overthrown a generation’s worth of conservative thinking on the matter: His tolerant stance on dictators like Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin shocked much of the right’s national security intelligencia." ... Especially for a site that touts its progressivism.

Can we expect a comprehensive analysis of the quality of leadership of all the countries (about 2/3 of those in the world) in which we have military bases? This skeleton empire is a "policy" in line with "a (handful of) generation’s worth of conservative thinking" and we couldn't care less how horrific are those leaders ... as long as they obey us and buy our war machines.

I'd suggest that the Bush I/II dynasty did much more harm to the US than has the Syrian Assad I/II dynasty.

US foreign policy is like a continuous false-flag operation: we are told to obsess about and demonize incontrovertibly shit leaders around the world to distract us from the INTERNAL destruction of whatever modicum we had achieved towards realizing the much-heralded potential of our system.

John Puma

At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not going to argue who PM Modi is or isn't, but take a better look at what one of Tulsi Gabbard's roles is in Congress.

She sits on the House Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Readiness and House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.

One of her many duties in Congress is to visit countries on behalf of the American government to strengthen economical, energy and security ties. Her visit to India and meeting with PM Modi and both BJP and Congress parties was for that purpose.

Trying to twist this into something negative (perhaps because Tulsi is Hindu?) makes absolutely no sense - especially since our own President Obama has such a bromance with PM Modi, himself.


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