I’m Going Home Sunday to Continue Healing!

For those of you following the latest Shafer Health Saga, I’ll be returning home to continue the healing process on Sunday morning. The consensus is that I have progressed far faster than expected (Western medical expectations are lower than mine!) and there’s no more to be gained from being treated away from my home.

I am feeling much better than at any time recently and even though the Big Picture remains problematic (IOW, the physical aspect of me is still well below the level of health at which I’d like to be), I have clearly emerged from the most recent critical challenge hardly the worse for wear and much wiser.

I am reminded by Spirit of the vast wealth that is at my fingertips. Friends abound, generosity and compassion embodied in each and every one of them. Even financially, I know that Spirit is in charge and taking care of things thanks in part to the GoFundMe campaign my lovely youngest daughter Heather thought to set up.

I’m doing a lot of thinking and contemplation these days about how I continue to meet my calling, fulfill my mission and advance the state of Enlightenment in myself and those around me. Some changes are clearly going to be necessary, but I don’t see a cessation in the near term. IOW, I’m not done with you yet!

Of course, I remain eager for all affirmative thoughts and prayers you feel moved to share with me as this journey continues.

Trump: Citizen or Taxpayer? Brooks Asks

David Brooks in his NYT column for today entitled,”Trump, Taxes and Citizenship,” offers this insight:

”You can say that a billionaire paying no taxes is fine and legal. But you have to adopt an overall mentality that shuts down a piece of your heart, and most of your moral sentiments.

“That mentality is entirely divorced from the mentality of commonality and citizenship. That mentality has side effects. They may lead toward riches, but they lead away from happiness.”

This is the higher ground of which conservatives and progressives alike speak. This is the level of living and civilization which asks not, “What can I get away with here?” But rather, “How much can I give to this situation?” To the level which seeks the beauty and elegance of cooperation in selflessness rather than the personal reward of material gain, however richly deserved, legally attainable and even justifiable.

Just because you CAN lose $1 billion in a single year and then treat that loss as a long-term investment bucket, SHOULD you? Citizen or taxpayer? Giver or taker?

It’s too bad we won’t take time to reflect seriously on this and related critical questions of State as we follow the frenzied run-up to next month’s potentially world-changing elections.

“Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war” – Julius Caesar

Try this one on for size. I find it a bit too close to home for the United States over the past 15-20 years.

Roman Emperor Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE)

Roman Emperor Julius Caesar (100-44 BCE)

Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar. (Julius Caesar)

The Jill Stein-Noam Chomsky Dust-Up: He’s Right, She’s Being a Bit Demagogic

Back in May, the website Democracy Now! published an interview with liberal icon Noam Chomsky in which he opined that if he were living in a swing state and the election was close, he would feel compelled to “hold his nose” and vote for Hillary Clinton. A week or so ago, my candidate of choice, Dr. Joel Stein of the Green Party, took him to task for that suggestion, going so far as to suggest that he was a supporter of the “politics of fear”.

That was a mistake on her part. In fact, it was a mistake on two levels.

First, strategically speaking, he’s absolutely correct. In a swing state whose electoral votes could end up in the hands of Donald Trump as a result of a modest turnout of third-party voters, a vote for Dr. Stein is in fact a vote for Trump. That’s true nowhere else, and I’m not sure there will be any states in the November election where that will be the case. But in the limited circumstances Chomsky describes, he makes the precisely correct choice.

Second, accusing a man of Chomsky’s great political courage and wisdom of essentially being a coward is not a good way to win friends and influence people on the Left. Chomsky, deservedly or not, has a reputation for being a clear thinker who is entirely unafraid to express even the most unpopular viewpoints. I mean, here is a liberal who has repeatedly attacked the centrist Democratic Party that emerged from, in large part, her husband’s administration.

Dr. Stein has committed another faux pas, in my view. Recently she’s begun a strong spate of Hillary-bashing. Taking her campaign negative was a huge error. In the current political climate, one of her biggest draws is her integrity. Her laser focus on the issues — particularly that of the global climate crisis — is a hallmark of her entire political life. To take a side trip in order to level a personal blast at an opponent is out of character for her and feeds into the current American discontent on which she is attempting to capitalize by her third-party candidacy.

Come on, Dr. Stein! Get back on message and on target and stop these silly personal asides which avail you nothing.

Jill’s Star Gets Some Tarnish

I learned three things about Green Party Presidential candidate and presumptive nominee Dr. Jill Stein tonight that I found troubling. She’s still got my support but now I’m a bit more wary of her consistency and her integrity than I was when I woke up this morning.

First, it turns out she appears to be pandering to the uninformed and irrational anti-vaxxers in LaLaLand. She waffled a bit on the issue, finally settling for something like, “I’m a doctor. Of course I support vaccines. But I understand why some parents are concerned.” Bull-puckey, Jill. The whole autism-is-caused-by-vaccines hoax has been thoroughly and completely debunked. If believers in that unscientific conspiracy theory are part of your base, I wonder about  your integrity as a scientist.

Second, she is suggesting quite openly that we shouldn’t be exposing our kids to TV, computers or WiFi signals for health reasons. I know there are psychological reasons to monitor and limit kids’ use of passive screen consumption. But to suggest that LCD displays or WiFi signals are somehow dangerous to health? Seriously? Feels like more pandering to me.

Finally, her selection of a very bright and engaging human rights activist and leader, Ajamu Baraka, as her running mate, strikes me as being ill-advised. Baraka has no experience in government and relatively little in management. Combined with Jill’s paucity of such experience, this gives me pause where, if they could pull off a win in November, we’d be in for four years of demagoguery and arm-waving with very little of her ambitious and progressive agenda having any hope of achievement. If she had recruited someone with real on-the-job experience in legislation or executive administration in government, she’d have bolstered her opportunity. Nothing against Baraka, just a bad strategic choice.

As I said at the outset, I’m still a #JillNotHill kinda guy, but these are warning signs that I’m going to monitor.

 

Where Jill Stands on the Four Main Issues

Jill Stein, 2016 Green Party Presidential Nominee

Jill Stein, 2016 Green Party Presidential Nominee

After yesterday’s post about the four main issues over which I’m choosing not to vote for the Democratic Party’s candidate for President in my lifetime, a couple of people challenged me, asking where my candidate of choice — Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party — stands on those same issues.

Here’s a quick summary of her views along with links to other sources of more detailed information for those who are interested.

  • On war and peace and American foreign policy: Establish a foreign policy based on diplomacy, international law, and human rights. End the wars and drone attacks, cut military spending by at least 50% and close the 700+ foreign military bases that are turning our republic into a bankrupt empire. Stop U.S. support and arms sales to human rights abusers, and lead on global nuclear disarmament. See her plan and her platform. More detail in a public policy statement here.
  • On the global climate crisis: Jill is committed to transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030.  “End destructive energy extraction: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, and uranium mines. Protect our public lands, water supplies, biological diversity, parks, and pollinators. Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe. Protect the rights of future generations.” Her plan and her platform:
  • On the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Jill strongly opposes the TPP and other job-killing international trade agreements. She is on record as: opposing fast track (too late, of course) and executive action and she’s called TPP worse than NAFTA and CAFTA, to which she has long been an opponent. Read a summary of her positions on international trade here.
  • On knee-jerk support for Israel: “The Jill Stein campaign calls for ending support for governments committing war crimes and massive human rights violations, including Israel and Saudi Arabia. It supports the BDS movement as a peaceful, nonviolent set of actions organized by civil society across the world aimed to end Israeli apartheid, occupation, war crimes, and systematic human rights abuses.” (More here.)

My Four Objections to Hillary

hillaryHillary Clinton gave a very workmanlike, well-thought-out acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention’s closing session tonight. It climaxed what has been a very impressive four-day event, well-produced, well-messaged and great TV. Several friends and family members said her speech made them more comfortable voting for her.

It did not convert me.

She has  positions on four issues that relate among my top concerns with which I strongly disagree:

  1. She is far too hawkish, too ready to use our military not as a last resort but as a threat, far too comfortable with the idea of using power to attain U.S. foreign policy goals.
  2. Her stance on the global climate disaster is woefully inadequate. She’ll try (but, I sense, not too hard)  to get us to live up to the Paris Accords but they are much too little, far too late.
  3. Her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership is on too shaky ground. I have little confidence she will hold out for the major changes it would take to make it acceptable to me and other progressives.
  4. As long as she continues the horribly flawed Middle Eastern policy which calls for knee-jerk, all-out support for Israel regardless of how bad an actor that country has been and continues to be, I cannot support her.

So — as you probably know by now — I’m all for electing the first woman President in American history this year. I just think her name ought to be Jill Stein.

 

My Apologies, Hillary. I May Be Wrong About Kaine

Yesterday, when I heard the news that Hillary Clinton had chosen Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate, I dashed off a quick, angry, and disappointed post calling him the worst possible choice available.

Secretary Clinton With Running Mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D, Va)A few minutes ago, I finished watching his introductory speech from Miami, Florida. While I’m still not convinced of his progressive credentials, I must say that he brings a lot more intangible value to the Democratic Party campaign than I had originally estimated. And, come to that, he may be more progressive than my first judgment would suggest.

In his first appearance since being selected, Kaine gave a speech that was filled with joy, hope, confidence, competence, and overall good feelings. As a long-time colleague of Clinton’s, he described a side of her that has perhaps been largely ignored, even though he didn’t supply any new information in the process. I guess it was his attitude more than anything else that caused me to question my judgment of him. From his slightly goofy, lopsided grin to his obvious sincerity when it came to serious issues like gun-control and our nation’s defense, he just came across as genuine and sincere in a way Hillary somehow seldom, if ever, does.

That, by itself, may turn out to be of inestimable value to Sec. Clinton in her quest for the White House.

So today, Hillary, I’m withdrawing my accusation of yesterday that Kaine was the worst possible choice. As a progressive, I remain somewhat skeptical, but I’ll withhold judgment until I get to hear more from a man I quite probably misjudged based on too little information and no personal exposure.

 

Did HRC Just Sink Her Candidacy and Give Us Trump?

I just heard that Hillary Clinton selected Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate. As disappointed as I already was in her as a presidential choice, this was perhaps the worst selection she could’ve made.

If there is one easily detected characteristic of the electorate in America today, it is their widespread disenchantment with our badly broken political system. That is a large part of the reason for Donald Trump’s popularity, such as it is. How in the world she thought bringing onto her ticket an even more Establishment Democrat that she is would help her get elected is beyond me. In my view, she has tipped over a number of independent voters who are in fact disenchanted. They will go to Trump now, not out of any agreement with his policies (does he have any?) or particular attraction, but out of revulsion for her doubling down on things as they are.

Even though the Democratic Party platform will be one of the most progressive in the party’s history, platforms as we all know mean next to nothing. They are mere scraps of what used to be paper and is now bits and bytes.

I’m sure the political crap storm that will soon erupt around her decision will be filled with people with the same views as mine; I guess that makes me part of that storm. So be it.

Bad choice, Hillary. Bad, bad choice.