Tag: 2016 Election

I Never Saw a Biden Candidacy as Viable

Not that it matters, but from the first speculation about Vice-President Joe Biden entering the Democratic race for the White House this season, I did not believe he would toss his hat into the ring. It never made sense to me, and I’m a fan and supporter of the Veep.

But the world of journalism, particularly inside the insular Beltway with its own version of reality, couldn’t resist the storyline. Pollsters have been asking voters about Biden along with the declared Democratic Party candidates, further weakening the value of their already pretty much useless polling.

And why all this speculation, despite the fact that Biden was absolutely consistent in his public denials that he was interested in the run? Pure and simple “news greed.” The desire to be first to predict something that actually happens is so great that even journalists you might normally judge as reasonable get caught up in it. This prediction game has turned into the anti-journalism of our age. Those reporters who claimed to have inside sources who assured them Biden was just about ready to join the race almost certainly had no such sources; they were making stuff up and citing anonymous sources so they’d never have to take responsibility for their inaccurate reporting.

As the Huffington Post Media blog put it, “Good journalists should realize that sometimes, you just have to wait for the news to happen.” The alternative is to become the news, to make the news, and that’s never a good thing.

 

Of Course the GOP Debate Outdrew the Dems: No Clowns!

Everyone knows a circus isn’t a circus without clowns. Political debates are largely circuses of various kinds.

trump_clownSo it came as no surprise to me that CNN reported an average of 15.3 million viewers to last night’s Democratic Presidential Debate compared to the 23 million who watched the Republican debate last week. The GOP has multiple clowns and one terrific clown-in-chief. The Democrats have at best one clown-in-training, Jim Webb (who actually probably belongs in the GOP anyway).

With the Democratic race viewed broadly as largely decided (I disagree, but it’s the majority view) and the Dems’ tendency to debate, you know, issues and policy and other boring stuff instead of screaming and shouting and seeing who can make a bigger ass of him or herself, combined to make the Democratic debate far harder to hype and less “interesting” to watch. Unless you’re a policy wonk (guilty), there was no contest.

The question the American people will decide next November is whether to back the candidate from the more entertaining party or the one from the more thoughtful one. I’m afraid we already know the answer.

 

Ben Carson: Bullet-Riddled Bodies Not as Important as Gun Rights

Republican Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson is reported to have said today:

“I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away,”

ben_carsonIf that statement reflects Dr. Carson’s actual beliefs, then he is a dangerously immoral (or amoral) man who shouldn’t be allowed within 100 miles of the Nuclear Football. And, by the way, he should never be allowed to practice medicine again since he’s clearly in disagreement with the Hippocratic Oath. If he made the statement for political expediency and doesn’t really feel that way, then he should be drummed out of the race for one of the biggest displays of hypocrisy in a deceit-filled 2016 Presidential campaign season. I’d have been surprised if even The Donald had made such an absurd statement. But a doctor? A man who has held many peoples’ lives in his hands? A man who supposedly believes in the sanctity of life?

Seriously? Any one body with bullet holes ought to engender in us as human beings a level of sadness, compassion, discouragement and disappointment in humanity that transcends any and all political or policy persuasions or positions.

It is this kind of rhetoric that makes me ache for the old Republican Party of men of honor like Jacob Javits, Everett Dirksen, and Nelson Rockefeller. I was never a conservative (well, there was that one time, but…) but I always had deep respect for the thinking of men like William F. Buckley Jr.

I see no similar politician or pundit on the horizon today worthy of my respect for his or her intellect, sanity and cogent argumentation. The most damning thing about Carson’s incredibly insensitive comment is that I wasn’t surprised by it. The second most damning thing is that I would have believed its attribution to any of the dozen-plus candidates for the GOP nomination.

Presidential Polling: Too Early, Too Disengaged

I don’t know about you, but I’m up to here with the continual focus in the media on Presidential polls. Every single day a new poll. Every single day new “analysis.” Every single day more wailing, gnashing of teeth and hand-wringing. Reams of newsprint and billions of bytes expended trying to suss out what the polling means. I can tell you in one word.

Nothing.

There are lots of reasons for this conclusion. Here are two that I’ve been focusing on lately.

First, it’s way too soon for polls to have meaning. As this piece from HuffPo points out and proves conclusively, no polling in Presidential elections ever means anything until after December. Period. Full stop.

Part of the reason for this is the second reason: fewer voters are participating now than will be engaged when election time draws nearer. Take a look at the GOP primary polling. There’s Donald Trump leading by double digits with, typically, around 25% of the voters preferring him. Some polls have had him as high as 30%, so let’s give him that for the sake of argument. The entire rest of the 17-person field combined grabs another 30%. Looked at one way, this means that half of Republicans want Trump and half don’t. But it also means that a clear plurality — upwards of 40% — express no preference. In other words, they’re not paying attention to the election yet.

If you combine those two facts — and there are others I could cite — you can only conclude that spending any attention on the polls at this point in the electoral process is a complete and utter waste of time.

Specifically, I wish my favorite news sites and shows would wake up and simply stop covering and discussing these polls. Without the air of constant media attention, they’d go away. This is a case of inventing the news. But it’s not necessary. Rather than tell us what the meaningless polls say, how about analyzing the candidates’ stances on crucial issues and discussing their electability in the broad context of a General Election. That kind of information not only has more credibility and currency than polls, it might actually help voters make more informed choices when those choices matter.

Yeah, Rachel Maddow, I’m looking at you. Enough with the polls. Enough with the Trump until and unless he starts talking issues instead of garbage and standup comedy. I’m on the verge of turning off your show.

Time to get serious about politics and a big part of that is ignoring the numbers.

 

The GOP Debate: By Ignoring Climate Change, They Lose the Only One That Matters

Ultimately, global climate change is the singular issue of our time. Oh, there are lots of other issues vying for near-term center stage, and I have opinions about most of them. Income inequality threatens our way of life in the West; police violence and the larger police state formation issues are crucial to the underlying justice of our culture; women’s right to govern their own health and rule their own bodies is under renewed and vicious attack which must be repelled.

But when I think about the Big Political Questions, I like to ask myself “In 100 years, how much difference will this make?” And judged against that yardstick, every single issue other than global climate change pales. Because the simple truth is that the human destruction that is being caused and will continue to be caused — and to rapidly escalate — by the horrific damage we have been doing to the planet for the past century or more will reduce the human population by a huge amount, perhaps rendering us extinct in far less time than most of us think or believe.

So if we’re not even around in a century or two, how much real difference will it make if we continue income inequality, violence, ridiculous human rights violations, and a thousand other “bad things” we encounter? Sadly, not much.

That’s why I’ve become a single issue voter who defaults to progressive parties and politics on all the other issues. I demand that any party or politico seeking my support be crystal clear in its/her/his/their support for all the drastic action necessary to reduce the long-term impacts of climate change and I don’t much care what they do on any other issue.

In the two-headed monstrosity that was a so-called “debate” last night among 17 people who want to stand as the Republican Party’s nominee for President in 2016, the question of global climate change received essentially zero attention. Of course, that didn’t matter for a number of reasons, not the least of which is we already know where all of these would-be leaders stand. They see global climate change as a hoax which, even if it’s real, is a natural occurrence and has nothing to do with human conduct and is therefore something about which we cannot do anything.

By its conduct and its stance on this one issue, the GOP has disqualified itself from any consideration whatsoever for my support for the foreseeable future. I know; they don’t care. They didn’t have it to begin with (though I have on occasion voted for Republicans where I thought the GOP candidate superior to the others). I’m a progressive, so there’s no room in the GOP tent for me. And they don’t care about me, either, because I’m not like them.

But they need to get the message. And they will eventually, as they see their beachfront properties disappear and their inland properties become the new beachfronts. Maybe then, when their billion-dollar investments and their multi-million dollar mansions are under water, they’ll wake up. But probably not. They’ll probably just ask for a government bailout, which they’ll receive from the Congress they own.

Ultimately, though, humanity loses if the GOP and other climate deniers win.

 

Of Dennis Kucinich and Bernie Sanders

Every time Dennis Kucinich tossed his hat into the Democratic Party’s nominating ring for President, I supported him until he was forced to withdraw. I saw the action as largely Quixotic, but for me at the time, the party had clearly decided to shift strongly to the center-right of the American political spectrum, leaving Lefties like me out in the cold. I wasn’t interested in backing what I saw as an even more Quixotic third-party position, so I provided what evidence I could of my concern with this shameful party shift by backing the only real Progressive in the presidential field.

As you know if you read my blog regularly, this year I have overcome my doubts about the value of a third-party approach to the upcoming Presidential election and have become a Green. I fully intend to back whoever gets that Green Party nomination for President and fully expect it to be Jill Stein.

Now that Independent Bernie Sanders has entered the race for the Democratic nomination, I’m hitting the Pause button on the Greens for 2016, at least for a few moments.

Sanders, a self-described Democratic Socialist, is perfectly aligned ideologically with me and with the Green Party. I’d like to see the Greens nominate him as their candidate as well, whether he receives the Democratic Party nod or not.

bernie_sanders-sketchIn many ways, Sanders is like a slightly upgraded Kucinich. He is a more savvy politician with a longer and more consistent track record than Dennis. And this year in particular, his candidacy is more than symbolic as he faces off against one of the most centrist of Corporatist Democrats, Hillary Clinton, who already has the nomination all but sewed up. (That “all but” is important.) MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, an unabashed fan of Sanders, pointed out on her show last night that the Independent who has always caucused with the Democrats without formally joining their ranks has raised $4 million in a relatively short time (full disclosure: I have contributed a small amount of that $4 million), which is more than several of the announced GOP candidates have so far.

He says he’s in it to win, not to influence Clinton or shift her or the party farther left as an acceptable outcome. I believe him.

Political satirist Andy Borowitz of the New Yorker and the Borowitz Report yesterday gave Sanders a real boost in a piece entitled “Integrity Disqualifies Sanders for White House.” Tongue-in-cheek, Borowitz, who is easily the best political satirist writing in America today, makes a valid point. By staying out of and above the partisan fray, Sanders finds himself beholden to no political interests at all. But he’s a force to be reckoned with on Capitol Hill because he knows his way around the room and he has respect from the sell-outs by whom he is surrounded, people who surely have consciences (at least in some cases) and recognize integrity when they see it, even if they disrespect it and distance themselves from it.

So I’m going to keep a close eye on how Sanders is received, how clean he can keep his message, and on the new policies he develops as he goes along (including one on the right to vacation time profiled in this HuffPo piece). Assuming the Greens go with Stein again, she won’t need primary help so maybe I’ll dive into the Sanders campaign until he wins or is forced out. Then I’ll reassess.

This may turn out to be a more interesting election than I thought after all!

 

Why 2016 Matters to the Climate

During the past several years, President Obama, faced with a recalcitrant and dysfunctional Congress, has used executive orders and EPA regulations to make what progress he has been able to make on global climate change. The good news is, he got more done than many probably expected despite the howls and gnashing of teeth from the Right. The bad news is, executive orders can be undone by a new President less sympathetic than he to the plight of the human race. (Read: any Republican candidate.)

That, as Vox points out today, is why the 2016 election matters more than most.

And that’s why I’m voting Green. Because although a Republican President would be a disaster, a Demublican like HRC would be only marginally better. And we are at a point in this process where half-measures avail us nothing. It’s fish or cut bait time on the climate. And only the Greens (and the Socialists) have a clearly stated policy intent of doing everything possible to save us.

Think about it. Presidential politics and partisanship aside, don’t you owe it to your children and your grandchildren to do everything you can to make their lives less miserable?

Pastor Huckabee Gets it Wrong on Dealing With Poverty

Check out my spiritual blog post today on a comment made by Politician-Pastor Mike Huckabee regarding his announcement that he’s going to announce his Presidential intentions.

He said that he became “a Republican because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life poor, waiting for the government to rescue me.”

I take both spiritual and political issue with the good Reverend in my post.

For the First Time Ever, I’m a Single-Issue Voter. You Should Be, Too!

I’m about to cast a ballot in my 14th Presidential election. And at the ripe old age of 70, I’m breaking two long-held traditions for voting in my family and in my life. The two changes are closely related.

First, as you know if you read this blog regularly, I’m bolting the Democratic Party this year. This will mark only the second time in my life I’ve backed a candidate from a party other than the Democratic Party for President, but this time around I’m backing the Green Party candidate. I anticipate it will be Jill Stein but I am confident of one thing: whoever the Green is, he or she will be right on the only issue I care about this year.

And second, as you probably deduced, I’m a single-issue candidate. The march toward planetary collapse is the only issue worth considering or voting on in 2016. Because if a candidate who is anything less than fully committed to and engaged in reversing that march is elected and if U.S. politics continue with more of the same when it comes to minimizing the effects of and reversing where possible the disastrous consequences of, global climate change, there won’t be a planet, let alone a United States, worth fighting over in 50 years or less.

No one who has even been whispered as a possible candidate for either of the major parties — with the solitary exception of Bernie Sanders and he’s not a real Democrat and therefore has no chance of getting the party’s nomination — has a formal position or platform plank on the subject that is anything more than lip service.

Green-Party-Values-LogoThe Green Party has been front and center on this issue for years. It has a strong, massive and detailed plank in its current platform on Ecological Sustainability of which Climate Change is the primary consideration. The platform has only five major planks and this is one of them.

In its recitation of the party’s 10 key values, here’s what it has to say about “Ecological Wisdom”:

Human societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature.  We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society which utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation. To this end we must practice agriculture which replenishes the soil; move to an energy efficient economy; and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.

It is my sincere belief that only by forcing the “two” major parties to at least have an honest debate on this central and critical issue can the 2016 Presidential election mean anything to future generations. The question we will ask as we choose our next national leader is whether we actually care how we leave the planet for our children and our grandchildren. I have both and I must say I’m ashamed to leave them the mess we’ve created. It may well lead to the extinction of the human race or, at the very least, to a paring back to a sparsely populated, technology-primitive, factionated world of 200 or 300 or more years ago, with a long path to rebuilding.

From now until the end of the 2016 election cycle, I am committed to frequent updates of this blog focused only on the issue of a sustainable environment and the politics attendant to that issue.

I invite you to join me and to get your friends and neighbors and colleagues to join you. Corporate America along with their Corporatist Republicrats and Dempublicans are arrayed against us. They have the money. But we have Wisdom, Spirit and Voice with us.

The stakes could literally not be higher.

Let’s march!