Tag: 2016 Election

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.

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.

 

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.

Jill Stein: A Vote for Me is NOT a Vote for Trump!

As a strong supporter of Dr. Jill Stein and the Green Party of the United States, I spend a lot of my time fielding the duopoly’s inane refrain, “Isn’t a vote for her a vote that makes a Trump presidency more possible?”

Short answer: no. We’ve been sold that bill of goods by the operators of the Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum politicians who are in control. Time to wake up.

Check this video interview of Dr. Stein for a clear and impassioned argument:

Tempted to Go Green? Don’t Worry. Protest Votes Only Impact Close Elections

Hillary & Jill

Hill & Jill

As a committed supporter of the Green Party and its presumptive Presidential nominee Dr. Jill Stein, I’ve been talking her up among my progressive friends of late. Most if not all of them are impressed with the Green Party’s platform and positions on key issues, particularly on foreign policy and climate change where the progressive community clearly and correctly sees Hillary Clinton for the hawkish corporatist that she is.

But most of the people I’ve been talking to Have expressed concern that they may be casting a “protest vote” that could tip the 2016 presidential election to the Republican party and its presumptive nominee, the utterly detestable Donald Trump. Generally, I counter that concern by pointing to Jill’s observation that voting for the lesser of two evils still produces an evil. She urges her followers to characterize a vote for her as a vote for the not-evil, the positive, the true progressive position all of us say we want.

It occurred to me yesterday that there might be a stronger and more convincing argument on this point. If you stop and think about it, popular vote never elects the President. That takes place in the antiquated and inexplicable Electoral College. In all but two states, Nebraska and Maine, the candidate who receives the most popular votes is awarded all of the state’s Electoral College votes. This means, among other things, that a third-party protest vote only has potentially disruptive results in a state where the outcome is within a few percentage points. In states where the outcome is certain or close to it, it’s not rational to consider that a third-party protest vote could alter the outcome in the final analysis.

So I want to say to my friends here and in the so-called real-world that unless you’re in a battleground state with a close outcome in November, you should vote your conscience, not what the duopoly tells you to do. If, on the other hand, there is solid objective evidence to suggest that voting for the Greens or any other third party could realistically result in the victory going to the worse of the two major party candidates, then and only then would you be justified in holding your nose and voting for Hillary Clinton.

Sorry, but there’s no justification at all for voting for Trump.

A Strong Argument FOR Hillary Clinton. Plus Reflections on the Democratic Party Platform

hillary_clintonI’m not sure I’m yet ready to have a change of vote but I am sure I’ve had a change of heart as a result of two things that have crossed my desk in the past 48 hours vis a vis the November Presidential election.

First, I read a very long article on the openly partisan Democratic Party mouthpiece blog Daily Kos that is the most reasoned and lucid defense of Hillary Clinton I’ve ever read. The journalist friend who shared it with me — who is decidedly not pro-HRC or, for that matter, much of a progressive — labeled it a “must read.” He doesn’t play that card often and every time he has, it’s proven worthwhile. So I took his advice.

The crux of the piece is that Hillary Clinton’s reputation for being scandal-plagued, dishonest and untruthful is not well-deserved, nor supported by a look at the evidence. There’s a lot of detail here and it would be an injustice to attempt to summarize it in so brief a space. Suffice to say the writer makes a very convincing case that, as he succinctly put it:

[T]he one thing that seems to most negatively and consistently affect public perception of Hillary is any attempt by her to seek power. Once she actually has that power her polls go up again. But whenever she asks for it her numbers drop like a manhole cover.

In other words, she’s a victim of pretty blatant sexism. Compared with male politicians with similar records, experience and public-service longevity who happen to be male, she is far more often a victim of intense and often-unfounded criticism.

Second, I’ve been following the development of the Democratic Party’s 2016 platform and, frankly, I’ve been astonished at the inroads into the policy positions and philosophical statements the Bernie Sanders contingent has been able to realize in a still-in-process draft. A big part of his policy positions have been incorporated into the platform without much dilution. There are still areas of disagreement and gaps but it is encouraging to see the party of my entire adult life taking progressive viewpoints as seriously as they appear to be this year.

Don’t get me wrong. I have been around politics long enough to know that a platform is hardly a binding document. Candidates often distance themselves from their party’s platform during the campaign and seldom even attempt to accomplish all of the platform’s promises after they are elected. Still, this is far and away the most progressive platform the Democrats have adopted (assuming they do) in at least two generations. It is indeed heartening.

So I conclude that perhaps it’s time for me to re-examine my decision to stay out of the party to which I was loyal my entire adult life until 2012 and convert to the Green Party. One of the primary blockades to that re-thinking is the Democratic Party’s take on the global climate change crisis. As the top of my blog says, it’s the only issue worth writing or talking about (and using as a basis for voting). While the Democrats are much closer to what’s absolutely essential to avoid catastrophic results, it still falls short of what is really needed. The Green platform will be on target to do what we as a nation need to do to do our part in minimizing the risks and costs of climate change.

Still, the Democrats have moved a considerable distance and I am ready to admit I have judged HRC too harshly without a serious examination of the entire factual background. It is clearly not fair to paint her with the wide brush her husband certainly earned.

A closing note. What if Hillary picks Cory Booker as her running mate? That could nudge me even farther in the direction of the Democrats. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are off the table, I’m sure. But Booker could bode very well for the near-term future of the party. His only drawback is his state-pulling power is in New England, just as Hillary’s is. But in this cycle, that may not matter.

Millennials Are Listening to Cenk Uygur; Hear Jill Stein Interviewed by Him

If you want to get a handle on where I am in terms of the American political scene today, and/or if you are one of the majority of Americans who don’t trust or like either of the major parties’ candidates for President, you owe it to yourself to watch this video interview. Yeah, it’s kind of long (45 minutes) but you know you’ve already spent far more time than that listening to the gibberish emanating from Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton. Dr. Jill Stein, who has now clinched the Green Party’s nomination, answers good questions, covers the broad policy front and explains clearly why the traditional options of choosing the lesser of two evils and instead going for the greater good is a powerful political tool.

Please take time to listen carefully.