Tag: Hillary Clinton

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.

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.

Listen to a Real Journalist on the American Political Scene Today. Chillingly Insightful

john_pilgerLong-time Australian journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger released a piece a few days ago that qualifies, in my mind at least, is one of the clearest and most insightful takes on the American political scene.

Frequent readers of this blog know that I am extremely cynical about journalism in the Western world today. Clouded as it is by sensationalism, confused as to what constitutes “news”, and wandering around a rapidly changing landscape brought about by the Digital Revolution, the state of affairs in my chosen profession is sad to say the least.

Still there are shining lights. One of those is Pilger. The producer of almost 60 documentary films and the author of a large handful of books, he has over the years maintained a steady, jaundiced eye in his role as a well-informed arbiter of what’s important in the world. His view is summed up in the heading of his blog: “It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of true message and myths that surround it.” Amen.

His latest piece is headlined, “Silencing America As It Prepares for War.” The thrust of the article is to point out that all of the current political leadership in the United States is cut from the same neoliberal cloth. They all agree on and support the necessity of one degree or another of constant war. He is particularly harsh with president Obama. “One of the more violent presidents, Obama gave a full rein to the Pentagon war-making apparatus of his discredited predecessor.” He continues, “No American president has built more nuclear warheads than Obama.”

But his interest is less on blaming Obama then on fretting about the future of the United States in the hands of any of the three current major political party candidates for President. None of them, he points out, has mentioned any of Obama’s war-like record. Indeed, even Bernie Sanders supports Obama’s drone war. Nobody, he points out, is talking about the provocative ways in which the Administration pokes and provokes Russia and China over issues that are of little or no strategic importance to our country.

I urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to read this analysis. It is chilling, but it is more important than anything I’ve read in the last few years that wasn’t about global climate change.

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?

Why the Kerfuffle Over Hillary’s Speeches is Mostly Fluff. Probably.

The media and the Bernie Sanders campaign are going bat-crap crazy because she won’t release transcripts of the 92 speeches she’s given since leaving her post as Secretary of State for which she bagged $21.7 million.

I think this is a non-issue. This despite the fact that I’m one of the majority of voters who don’t trust HRC any farther than I could throw a nunlearn missile.

First, all recent former Secretaries of State have almost certainly earned millions in speaking fees. It’s one of the perks of the position. Probably other former Cabinet-level officers have also become highly paid speakers after leaving office.

Second, the whole issue of the content of these talks is naive. Companies don’t hire Clinton — or any other name speaker at her level — for their special knowledge or for what advice they might offer. They do it for the prestige and sometimes for the “draw” value of their name. Let’s face it, Hillary is unlikely to have such deep, unique insights into a subject of business value that these same companies couldn’t hire in the form of multiple consultants with real cred.

In this case, the allegations seem to pertain to pay-for-access, but since she’d already left her post, it’s hard to imagine any intelligently run company would see a direct link between paying her for access she no longer officially had. Of course, she remains a colleague and, by some accounts, friend of the President. I suppose there might be some perceived tit-for-tat play there somewhere. But hundreds of thousands of dollars worth? Seems doubtful to me.

Finally, the fact is that her clients almost certainly demanded confidentiality and intellectual property rights to her speeches as a matter of ordinary course of business. This would give them the ability to share recordings and transcripts of her talks with other audiences within their circle for whatever value they might provide.

All this said, I still don’t trust the woman. If it turns out there is a scandal lurking here, I won’t be too astonished. On the face of it, though, I just don’t see this as a substantial issue.

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?