Archive for December 2007

Third Parties

December 31, 2007

An interesting phenomenon is unfolding on the political scene.  Most candidates try to be all things for all voters while most voters are primarily interested in only a few issues.  Voters’ hot buttons tend to be those issues that they think about now.  It is only later and often too late that the voter realizes he did not mean “that issue that way”.  Let’s consider:

  • For or against Guns (that means for the NRA position or nothing, regardless of how reasonable your not position may be). 
  • For a woman’s right to reproductive health decisions or not
  • For a comprehensive approach to Mexican immigration and guest workers or not
  • For gay and lesbian rights that are equal to all others or not
  • For Universal Health Care or not.
  • For Private Health Care and too bad for those who do not have coverage.
  • For national effort to reduce green house gases or not
  • For a graduated federal tax system (wealthy pay proportionally more) or some form of flat tax
  • For a clear separation of church and state or not
  • For death penalty or not
  • For pre-emptive wars without Congressional declaration of war
  • For massive data collection on each and every citizen or not
  • For creationism and flat earth theories or not

It is my guess that most voters are not in favor of each and every one of these, yet one or more may seem appealing.  With the current two party system it is difficult to discuss these issue in a bi-partisan manner.  It is far easier for one party to claim they are the party of guns or the party of pro-choice or the party of less government (read less taxes).  This clearly then defines the other party as against guns, pro-life, and big government.  The road to reason is completely blocked.  What is the answer?

The answer lies in (1) purifying the current two parties by adopting more restricted and centrist platforms, and (2) augmenting the voters choices with with several additional “3rd parties”.  Here are my suggestions:

1. Creationist Party.  This would be a tailor made party for all those who defy scientific evidence and believe the world is about 5000 years old.  It will include all those who refuse to accept that monkeys or the likes were their ancestors.  This party wants pot holes filled, streets free of the homeless, a bible in every school desk, and strick limitations on non-Christian symbols in public places.  Most likely they will nominate Mike Huckabee this year after he loses in the Republican primaries.

2. Ron Paul Libertarians.  This is a slightly saner version of the long admired Libertarian Party.  This party is composed of people who have utilized the “common wealth” and made some money.  They are now sure they do not want to share any of it and spend enormous amounts of time reading the constitution in order to find articles and amendments that support their positions.  They seek little or no government, flat or no taxes, and a gun in every home.  In desperation these voters usually vote Republican.

3. The Pragmatists support common sense solutions to real problems and avoid deliberately creating new problems.  Pragmatitists support balanced budgets, fair taxation, and eliminating trade deficits.  On social issues, Pragmatitists believe that everyone was created equal and are inbued with inalienable rights.  The Pragmatists candidate of choice is Michael Bloomberg but Michael has enough money that he may think up his own name.  Regardless his platform will be similar.

5. Reality Thinkers are a new breed that studies the world in cold numeric terms and designs policy and programs that fully incorporate reality.  Wars are fought only if there is a dollars and cents justification (and only as a last resort).  Economic and political tools are the choice of Reality Thinkers in conducting foreign policy.  On social issues, they prefer controlled experiments where data is required before entitlement programs are rolled out to the entire country.  Reality Thinkers primary focus is on ending the use of the military, the environment, and adopting fully renewable energy.  The ideal candidate for this party is not on the scene right now.  Rumor has it that they will coax either Joe Biden or Chris Dodd to become their standard bearer.

6. The North American Union Party is dedicated to “one America” in which a common union is formed with Mexico, Canada, and the US.  This party believes in the power of people, education, and a huge common market.  This party more than the other is domestically focused and has minimal interest in foreign policy.  It’s abandonment of foreign policy will have unexpected positive impact upon the relations of the US with the Middle East, China, Russia, and closer to home, Cuba and Venezuela.  The North American Union Party strongly supports the woman’s right to choose, gay and lesbian freedoms, and strong measures to prevent gun ownership from endangering people.  The NAUP will reach out for Bill Richardson unless Bill gets the Democratic nod for VP.  While Bill fancies himself as a diplomat of the first order, he is a people person first.

7. The King George Party is about security at the expense of individual liberties party.  Supported heavily by AIPAC, Neoconservatives, and a lot of voters who simply wish for the good old days when Government told the truth, this party seeks a right leaning military man to lead them.  This party does not like to be singled out and is likely to seek reconciliation with the main stream Republican Party. 

Maybe the future will not play out exactly as I have suggested, but the chances of one or more third parties is very large this time.  The biggest question will be whether these parties can select candidates for Congress too.  Our Country desperately needs to return to the center and with the current parties that does not seem likely.  Maybe something off the wall like this will work.

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Cheney in 2008?

December 30, 2007

The current crowd of Republican 2008 Presidential hopefuls is a sorry group, or so thinks the main pulse of the old guard Republican Party.  Oh do they wish Karl Rove were still around to play his dirty tricks and unit the party around some pliable faith based ideologue.  You might think Mitt Romney would be their man but you know is a Mormon.  Rudy might work but he seems prone to medical breakdowns when the heat goes up.  Mike Huckabee is simply a loose cannon and can not be counted upon to do the dirty work of the Republican establishment.  John McCain is not trusted because they have screwed him so many times before that they are sure that once elected, John will get even.  And although Fred is trustworthy, he will need so much sleep that he is not likely to last the rest of the campaign if nominated.

So the Republicans are perplexed and frustrated.  A few weeks ago they appointed a secret search committee headed by Vice President Dick “5 deferments” Cheney.  The first preliminary report was quietly circulated just before Christmas to the Republican inner cabal.  Their choice was none other than Dick Cheney himself!

The search committee reasoned that Dick could be fitted with another heart stimulator, just as back up, and rolled onto the various stages where he could speak to pre-selected friendly audiences.  While not on the campaign trail, Dick could stir up talk of war and terrorists, and of course, how he was the most prepared to protect America from these imaginary threats.  Dick’s motto will be “I’ll lead you in war so the rest of us can live in luxury”.

It is hard to say at this point whether this will be the committee’s final recommendation.  For a few hard core Republicans, this nomination is a blessing where they can continue trashing the gays and lesbians, denouncing the hard working Mexicans, and denying science and anything connected with it.  It is almost too good to be true.

Election Reason #?

December 29, 2007

It is amazing how the race for the 2008 nomination has moved effortlessly from one issue to another without any candidate losing their breath.  “Elect me, I’ll build a second Guantanamo jail”, said Mitt Romney.  “Mitt is in favor a sanctuary mansion”, said Rudy referring to undocumenteds working on Mitt’s lawn.  “I’m a Christian and you’re not”, said Mike Huckabee looking at Romney.  “I’m a person of change” said Barack.  “I’ve got experience”, said Hillary.  “And I am not beholding to special interests”, said John Edwards, a trial lawyer with labor backing.  End the war, fight the terrorists, seal the boarders, jump start the ecomony, and bomb Iran were the subject of our candidates’ promises.

It was Joe Biden who interupted one debate by saying that Iran was the least of our worries and that we should wake up and pay attention to the stability of Pakistan.  Pakistan has nuclear weapons and boarders Afghanistan.  Out of control this could be a nightmare waiting to happen.  Today with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto there is a pause and the candidates are trying to quickly spin this event to spot light themselves.

The winner of the “you don’t really believe what you just said” is Mike Huckabee.  He pointed out that there were 660 illegal Pakistani immigrants in the US (probably all in New York driving taxis) and Mike pointed out this was another reason why we needed to seal our boarders.

What should be coming clear is that we are living in a very complex world and a continuation of the Bush/Chaney approach (could also be called the Neoconservative/Israel lobby approach) will only lead to a deeper hole.  The next President must be able to see the longer term and the broader picture.  China and India represent huge economic and political challanges.  Russia is not going to go away and good old Japan could change in a heartbeat too.  The root of all evils is oil.  Alternative energy sources coupled with renewed commitment to manufacturing will restore balance and independence to our country.  Candidates running on one or two issue, fear mongering, bible swinging, or homophoebic pandering are of no use.

Tell Me Again

December 28, 2007

With the assassnation of Benazir Bhutto we are forced to look more closely at Pakistan.  Assassnations of course can happen in any country, that’s not the point.  Rather the point is to look at the Pakistani political system and see how it measures up to what we think of when we say “democracy”.  Sadly, Pakistan is a country that has not a clue as to what democracy is nor does it have much chance of ever finding it within the life time of its current residents.

Benazir was the head of PPP (Paristan’s People Party) which her father founded and existed largely to support her return to power.  Without Benazir, its future is unclear.  Real power in Pakistan resides with the military where most senion officers have a dual role of military officer and industry/business leader.  Relatively speaking, Benazir’s followers are poor and the military is rich.  As with many developing countries, the game is how to get power and then with power get money and wealth.  Little time is spent on helping the greater population.

So what’s the point.  At the end of the day, the US invaded Iraq because our Government did not like or trust Sadaam Hussein.  Bush and Cheney fell suckers to the idea that Iraqis would welcome the US soldiers with flowers and that democracy was just around the corner.  (There is nothing wrong with this expectation, other than the fact that is totally fanciful.)  We have learned in Iraq that Iraqis are generation away from the capability to govern themselves in anything remotely resembling democracy.  Now we see this in spades in Pakistan.  All of this is not new information to anyone familiar with the cultures and conditions of the developing third world.

Iraq never needed to happen and the disaster that has transformed Iraq into an empty shell was all predictable.  Seeking to democratize other countries is misguided task.  Even countries as large as China and Russia chose order and security over an ideology.  We need to look hard at our own democracy and reaffirm that which has made America great.  Let the rest of the world see our example and not have to listen to our words.

People around the world need healthcare, water, food, and one off treatments for things like AIDS, bird flu, TB, etc.  There is so much America could have done with the almost 1 trillion dollars that has been spent on the war.

Bush’s Belated Christmas Present

December 27, 2007

The Russians and Iranians announced today that Russia would supply Iran with a new and supered up version of air defence missiles.  The characteristics cited would put them in the class of our Patriot missile system, only slightly better.  What goes around, comes around.

Unfortunately George Bush and his left ear, Dick Cheney, will most likely not pick up on the message here.  Russia, who sympathised strongly with the US following “9/11”, and could have become a close cooperating ally, instead has been ignored, criticized, and antagonized by the US, and as a result have moved into becoming a counter US force.  It takes a really dense President to miss the potential of a cooperative Russian alliance and instead opt to go it alone, not because it was the best option, but simply because he could.

So the price of poker has gone up.  The Iranians will possess a better defense against a US (or Israeli) attack and we will be tempted to do something in return to raise the stakes again.  You can see now how shallow the neoconservative thinking has been.  PNAC (Project for the New American Century) may or may not be fine conceptually but, for sure, it is not based upon the realities of the world nor does it take into account the foibles of real people who get elected.

The irony of this is that the current Iranian regime poses as many problems to the Russians as it does to the US.  Russia has no experience bringing economic progress to any country it has occupied and Iran will be no different.  The Iran Islamic leadership have tasted the fruits of capitalism and like what they found (as opposed to wanting to share it with other Iranians), so we should expect they will continue to run Iran as it is now (no reforms) and continue to be a loose cannon in the Middle East.

Nice job Mr President.

Christmas Break

December 26, 2007

Yesterday, President George W Bush and I took the day off.  He did not screw anything up further with either the US domenstic or foreign policy.  He rode his bike, gave Laura some presents, and otherwise collected his thoughts for the New Year that his coming quickly.  Fortunately, the New Year will be his last in office and for that we all can be grateful. 

On my day off, I tried not to screw anything up either.  I read some emails and in one there was a link ( http://www.zippyvideos.com/7699524582689336/bestcommercial/ ).  This site shows a commercial sponsored by Anhauser Busch.  The video itself is what George Bush is all about.  It is about a mythical world where soldiers go off to do battle with dragons and trolls in order to protect those at home.  The soldiers, through very difficult times succeed and come home themselves without injury.  This all happens because they are fighting a just cause.  George believes this and so do millions of others who don’t take the time to think this thing through.  In a way, it should be shame on Bud.

What the video does not show is

1. the over 3800 US soldiers killed.

2. the more than 40,000 US soldiers wounded and seriously injured

3. the potential 500,000 or more veterens who suffer or will suffer psychologically from the stresses of the war and re-entry into normal US life.

4. The over 2 million Iraqis displaced and the 1.5 million wounded since the war began.

5. the total lack of finding any evidence linking Iraq to al Qaeda, 9/11, or any imminent threat to the US.

The year end holiday season is a good time to stop and think about what we are being told and shown each day about Iraq and the Middle East.  There is no question that we Americans are very fortunate to have such a well trained and professional military.  These young people have performed as well as could be expected and then some.  But that is not the point.  Our military should not be in Iraq, should never have been deployed there in the first place, and should be repositioned as soon as practical.

Think about a Government that will not show you pictures of flag draped caskets coming home but will applaud the pictures of young healthy troops returning.  Which 2008 candidates will be prone to continue such a policy and which will not?  Which 2008 candidates will pursue foreign policy prudently so they never get caught in an Iraq situation? 

Is It Time for Humanism?

December 23, 2007

The Corporate “Religion World” has once again got its trains on the wrong tracks and headed at each other.  The more prosperous the corporate business is, the more convoluted and more disasterous the likely crash will be that awaits the rest of us.  Highlighted by Mike Huckabee and his inference that in someway, Romney’s Mormon faith is defective.  But don’t overlook the Pope reaffirming the singularity of Roman Catholicism as both the true church and of course, always correct in its teachings.  He asked parishioners to forgive the Jews and work to convert them.  Press reports discuss each of these in theological terms as if there is a logic that can prove a point that has been thrown out.  You can learn far more by looking at the economics behind statements like these.  More church goers liking what they hear, means more money for the church.

All organized religions exist because of two facts.  (1) The religions produce a series of products (such as stimulating music, feel good sermons, “get out of jail cards”(forgiveness for your transgressions), dramatic churches or meeting spots, and dynamic speakers) that their customers find acceptable.  (2) In return, the customers agree to contribute enough money to make the religion happy.  As in any business, one searches for better products and ways to earn more money.

Over the years religions have found words that sooth, lift, ease, and refocus the listener.  The listener has a hole in his spirit and the religion finds words to help fill the absence.  Religions often are important to pass on a sense of moral values such as “treat the other person as you wish to be treated” (good outcomes) and “eye for an eye” (usually not good results.  But when, as there always will be, conflicts within the code of rules of each religion, the religion always pulls out the ace of trump and says “it is so because God said it was so”. 

So, we can have a President who says he talks to God regularly and invades a sovereign country bringing death and destruction to both Americans and Iraqis.  He insists that pro-life is the only way and yet does nothing to support the young born into untenable situations.  He supports the death penalty and looks the other way on the dangers of AIDS.  He is sure that all his positions are what God would want.

We need to reject this type of argument amongst the 2008 candidates and insist they use facts and possess a consistent personal set of principles and values.  “Not for Profit” Humanism might be a way to end the discussion closer “god told me so” that distorts so much of our political discussion today.