Tag: Democrats

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.

 

Big News! More Jobs in Clean Energy Than Coal & Oil for First Time!

Global-Climate-ChangeThere was some great news for those of us advocating on behalf of Planet Earth today, as the United States reported that, for the first time, employment in the solar energy industry is greater than the number of jobs in oil and natural gas extraction. That incredibly important milestone, which flies in the face of many of the Right’s economic arguments against environmentalism, took place last year, but the numbers have just been released.

Anyone with one eye and half sense already knew this would happen. As the public becomes better-educated about clean energy and its myriad benefits — benefits which transcend the critical impact on global climate change — the demand for solar, wind and other renewable resources will simply continue to grow by leaps and bounds. The fact that those industries are now less profitable than their long-established dirty energy counterparts is due only to the fact that a great deal of research and development and marketing ramp-up has to take place before the economies of scale kick in.

This news gives great additional credibility to the Presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein as they attempt to convince the American voting public of the viability of an economy based primarily on these emerging energy markets and products.

Go tell that to your cynical conservative friends.

Why Voting Green Isn’t a Wasted Ballot

Green Party USA Logo

Green Party USA Logo

As you know if you are even a casual reader of this blog, I am committed to Bernie Sanders for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency as long as he remains in the race. If and when he drops out, I plan to work for, support and vote for whoever the Green Party nominates; I presume that will be Dr. Jill Stein, who was the 2012 nominee of the party, but whoever garners the nomination will get my vote in the event Sanders doesn’t make it.

I have elsewhere explained my reasons for making this choice. These include, in brief:

  1. I do not like or trust Hillary Clinton. She is a defense hawk at a time when world peace needs to be near the top of the agenda. Her late conversion to opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline tells me all I need to know about her sensibilities on global climate change. None of her ideas are fresh.
  2. While I am loath to vote for a candidate from either major party (more below), Sanders is only a Democrat in name for the purposes of this campaign. His policy positions go well beyond the present and recent Democratic Party platforms and align somewhat closely (though not as closely as I’d like) with the Greens, whose platform meets with 90% approval.
  3. The Green Party is the only global political party worth the title. In a world where problems transcend national and cultural borders, that approach to politics must be the future if the planet is to survive, let alone thrive.

Many of my friends, when they find out my voting plans, are aghast. “A vote for a third party candidate is a vote for the Republican!” they say incredulously. “Why would you want to waste your vote like that plus taking a chance you’ll help elect a Cruz or a Trump?”

Fellow political blogger John Uebersax has done an excellent job of explaining the rationale behind a decision to vote for a third-party candidate. I encourage you to take time to read at least the summary of his thinking that occupies the first part of that post. Briefly, here are my primary points.

  1. The two major political parties are Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum in their broadest policy positions. With Sanders out of the equation, the Democrats differ from the Republicans basically only in degree on the major issue of the day: global climate change, the economy, income inequality. The differences seem huge because of the way they are painted by media dedicated to upholding the Establishment power structures on which they feed. While it is certainly the case that the Democrats have a better record on civil and human rights, those issues are not existential in the same way global climate change, e.g., is.
  2. Voting for the lesser of two evils still results in an evil outcome. (I don’t really believe in evil, but I use the terminology because it is commonly understood.)
  3. While it may be true that in 2016 voting a third party ticket isn’t going to result in a win, it can hasten the day — which I expect will come within 20-30 years — when the United States becomes a multi-party nation in which all parties are dedicated to governing rather than destroying.
  4. If ever there was a year when voting outside the two major parties was likely to make sense, it’s 2016. Whether the GOP nominates Trump (which I suspect they will) or Cruz (a worse alternative in my view), Hillary will bury them. Not only will the Democrats hold the White House, they’ll probably regain control of the Senate and significantly weaken the Republican majority in the House. Down ticket races will also go heavily Democratic as conservatives are tarnished by the outrageous positions and behaviors of the GOP slate. The chances that a couple of million people voting for what they’d really like to see instead of what they’ll settle for will throw the election one way or another is patently absurd. In a close election year, that view might not hold water but it certainly does in 2016.
  5. If the Greens and/or other third parties gain sufficient numbers of voters, the mainstream parties will be forced to shift their policy positions in order to increase their competitiveness. The net result will be a government that comes closer to modeling my views instead of one where the differences on the issues that matter most to me are all but negligible.
  6. By voting Green, I may contribute to the party receiving enough support in 2016 that it will qualify for ballot access in all 50 states and matching FEC funds in 2020, both important steps to the establishment of a viable third party.

I’m not unrealistic. I know the Green candidate won’t win in 2016. I have predicted that the GOP will nominate Trump, which will fracture them badly and open the doors wide for a massive victory by HRC in November as well as significant gains in Congress. But in much the way that Bernie has caused Clinton to shift to the left and to discuss important issues she’d rather not focus on, a significant showing by the Greens in 2016 can begin to shift the major parties in directions that I will find more palatable and more likely to avoid the catastrophic future that awaits my beautiful children and grandchildren if either of the mainstream parties’ platforms hold sway for another 4-8 years.

Isn’t it better — more moral, more in integrity — to vote for what you really want rather than waste a vote on someone with whom you will never be truly satisfied as your leader?

It’s Been a Great Run, Bernie, But It’s Time to Go Green

As regular readers of this space know, I’ve given up on the Democratic Party in recent elections. Independent Bernie Sanders, running as a Democratic “outsider”, got my attention and I’ve been a rabid supporter since he announced. I absolutely prefer him as my next President.

But from the perspective of the issues, the Democratic Party no longer closely embodies my values. Hillary Clinton is not acceptable to me. The reasons are myriad and this column isn’t about that subject. I will stay with Bernie all the way to the convention if he stays in.

But, Bernie, please do this favor: seek and accept the nomination of the Green Party while still fighting for the Democratic nomination. There is precedent for a candidate to appear on more than one party’s ballot. As an Independent, you don’t owe fealty to the Democratic Party. The Green Party platform aligns right down the line with your policy positions. Equally or more important, your backers are as disaffected by the Democrats and HRC as anyone. They don’t feel any loyalty to the Democrats either.

By adding the Green Party to your cred, you might pick up some votes. But importantly, you’d be broadening your reach and appeal and taking your message global.

Besides, you’d give me a nice out!  I could keep my promise to back you until you drop out and then switch to the Green candidate.

Go Green, Bernie!! Please?

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.

 

My Quick First Take on Democratic Debate

I thought:

  • Martin O’Malley helped himself the most
  • Jim Webb did himself the most damage
  • Lincoln Chaffee was oratorically unimpressive
  • Hillary Clinton did what the front-runner needs to do: avoid mistakes and not take any hard direct hits
  • Bernie Sanders was Bernie Sanders, which is just fine, but I don’t think he helped or hurt himself much
  • Anderson Cooper did a very credible job moderating

The debate was far more substantive and watchable than either of the GOP debates, by a pretty long way.

 

Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein: Two Hopes for 2016

As an unabashed democratic socialist / dyed-in-the-wool progressive, I’m delighted to have two good choices in the field for President of the United States in 2016.

Independent/Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders has my primary attention despite the fact that he seeks the nomination of a party that is captive of Corporate America. He’s just independent enough in his thinking and in his long-held policy positions that he may well be able to overcome his party’s abysmal failure to draw important distinctions between it and the Republicans. Looked at outside the constraints of party, Sanders is easily my favorite candidate in many, many years.

Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein has essentially all the same policy positions as Sanders but without the baggage of a lost and meandering party. That strength is also her practical weakness. Combine her inexperience in both political office and executive management with the lack of a major party backing and she looks a bit more than a little Quixotic.

I can barely make out the outlines of a scenario in which Sanders gets his party’s nomination. If Hillary Clinton’s email problems — which surfaced again in a new coat that looks a lot like pants-on-fire today — combine with a smoldering major scandal lurking in her and her husband Bill’s family foundation, I could see her candidacy spectacularly implode. If Sanders stays the course long enough and that implosion is big enough, he could step in and pick up the pieces. She is a flawed — maybe even fatally flawed — candidate. Depending on how long it takes for her demise to come to fruition, she may be forced to withdraw from the race in disgrace.

Meanwhile, Sanders is keeping the Left agenda alive, moving her farther left in the process, and although he seems genuinely intending to win the nomination, he’s a pragmatic guy. Somewhere deep down inside he has to have a Plan B for what to do if and when HRC becomes unstoppable.

Enter the Greens. It would not be unprecedented for them to name Sanders as their nominee as well. Then if and when the Democratic Party completes its abandonment of its primary purpose and constituencies under Center-Left Hillary Clinton, Sanders picks up the mantle from the truly progressive Greens. Meanwhile, he runs on both tickets; it’s not like he’s a die-hard Democrat.

Stein, on the other hand, has served the Greens well, acting as their national standard-bearer in 2012. Her messaging is clear, she’s bright, articulate and energetic. She doesn’t have a real shot at the White House because of the way politics in this nation is rigged. But with matching funds, she can run a respectable campaign, further harass HRC from the left, and keep the Progressive agenda alive in the minds of voters like me who just don’t want more of the same.

I’m going to keep backing Sanders but providing some support for Stein as well until this sorts itself out. I’m no longer a party loyalist. I’m a democratic socialist. I’ll end up backing the candidate from whichever party comes closest to my ideals, electability be damned. This is the start of a long period of change. The battles are not the decisive points; the war is what matters.

 

Progressives Stick to Their Guns, Derail Obama’s Request for Fast-Tracking Trade Authority

I was delighted at the news today that progressive Democrats in solidarity with labor and environmental activists disrupted President Obama’s ill-considered attempt to get Congress to give him authority to fast-track a secret trade treaty with 11 Pacific Rim nations.

My congressman, Sam Farr, announced on Thursday on his Web site that he would vote with the Republicans and Obama on this legislation, which I wrote and phoned him urging a change of heart.

I don’t know whether the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is 100% bad or only more than half bad. But I do know it’s been negotiated in secret, its draft provisions are being guarded as if they were nuclear weapons plans, even our elected representatives in Congress have been cut out of the loop, and the draft provisions that have been leaked are uniformly bad trade policy. Today’s vote made it impossible, without further concessions by the Administration, for Obama to get the fast-track authority he sought for the treaty.

Even though the House followed the resounding 297-127 defeat of the first bill (Trade Adjustment Authority, or TAA) with the narrowest possible 219-211 win on what was generally seen as the main bill (Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA), the first vote essentially rendered the second meaningless. Without its provisions, TPA is a hollow shell of its former self.

This means that if President Obama wants to continue to negotiate the TPP and submit it to Congress, it won’t be for a straight up-or-down-no-debate-or-amendments procedure by the legislature. Which means it will be a more transparent process. Which is what Obama always said he wanted, except when being transparent was too inconvenient for him and his tightly secretive inner circle have been from Day One.