Archive for the ‘Dennis Kucinich’ category

The Candidate and the Team

August 14, 2008

In this marathon 2008 Presidential primary and national election season, we have been exposed to a lot of candidates and a lot of campaign staffs.  Thinking back the candidates fell into certain catagories.  These catagories were differentiated by how much the average citizen was attracted to the candidates and how their staffs projected them.  Here is my ranking of the candidate catagories.

1. Early in, early out.  This group included Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Mike Gravel, Ducan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Tommy Thompson, Sam Brownback, and Jim Gilmore.  These candidates announced early, gave a few good speeches, and dropped by the wayside.  They were either one issue candidates or were simply too unknown to stir the hearts of a nation.  Their campaign staffs stuck pretty much to the basics and acted honorably.

2. A little flash, then the dash.  This second group contained John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney  and Fred Thompson.  This group appealed to a national base and chose certain themes that excited narrow interests.  Their campaigns searched for ways to differentiate the candidate but in the end it was the amount of money they had raised that determined their early departure.

3. The glorious twins.  At opposite ends of the political spectrum, but thoroughly committed to their advocacies, Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich represented what is truly great about politics.  These two campaigners presented their cases in a straight forward and above board manner.  Interestingly Ron Paul struck a chord across a wide spectrum of voters and did so without slamming any opponent.  (Ralph Nader could take lessons.)  Both candidates simply could not get enough votes.

4. The second best hands.  In this next to last group we find two serious contenders who played to special interests while trying to appeal to everyone.  Mike Huckabee and Hillary Clinton ran legitimate campaigns that arguably could have won had either of the presumptive candidates stumbled.  In this near “winning” group, however, we see the campaign team departing from who the candidates tried to say they were.  Worse, we saw Mike and Hillary stooping to enlarging the truth about themselves and omitting or misleading the truth about their opponents.  Lost was the discussion of issues and why they would be able to deliver on their promise, and instead it was why they were a better choice than their opponent.

5. The presumptive candidates.  John McCain and Barack Obama are the two left standing.  In full glory we now see the campaigns and we must strain to see the candidates themselves.  The mud has begun to fly and soon it will be impossible to know which one threw first.  Money is still king and the one with the most will have a big advanatage (no surprise).  This time around the Democratic candidate will have plenty of money and could outspend McCain.

Having lots of money is necessary but also comes with its own limitations.  The major problem is who will decide what image is portrayed for each candidate.  You would hope it is the candidate himself but don’t jump too quickly to that conclusion.  This is a great test of the commander in chief skills that Obama and McCain possess.  Can they keep to the facts and proposed policies, or will they resort to fear and slander?

This is also an important time to listen for signs that either candidate will lack the prerequisite skills to be a chief executive and become a disappointment like George W Bush.  Bush looks Presidential in pictures but that is the end of it.  He has been unable to select sensible policies, choses fear and division to distract voters, and has been a complete failure at managing the business of Government.  We must look carefully at both candidates and select the one who will try to unite all Americans, has policies that fit the US now, and who has the stamina and interest in seeing the work of Government finished.

For or Against the War?

January 14, 2008

We are being treated to some useless political theater with the Clinton and Obama campaigns.  “I was against the War and you voted for it”.  “That’s the biggest fairy tale I have every heard (Bill Clinton claiming Obama did in fact vote for the war)”.  In both cases, what’s the point?  I hope they do not mean that since the war has cost a trillion dollars and taken 4000 American lives and lasted 5 years with no end in sight, that the war is a bad idea.  I hope they are not arguing about the cost-benefits of the war either (which only a failed businessman would have taken us into… and George W Bush fits that description).

A lot of people got it wrong in 2002. 

1. The media as a whole reacted with glee over the prospect of endless pages and/or minutes of reporting (not to mention the advertising dollars that would follow) a war. 

2. Congress got it particularly wrong because they were more worried about getting reelected than performing their jobs and following the Constitution. 

3. But most everyone got it wrong when the President and Vice President decided they were the sole authority for whether there would be an invasion or not.  This was behavior that was new and a bold expansion of the Presidency. 

4. Cheney and Bush got it wrong when they acted without International approval, and entered the US into an illegal war.

So, other than Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, I have not heard anyone else call the Iraq War what it is.  It is an illegal war and it will be a black smudge on the American reputation for years to come.  Politically, there is a reluctance to point out the illegal nature of the war. 

First, there will be outcries and demagoguery over the slander of American service men and women.  “You mean they sacrificed for nothing?”  Unfortunately if you put it that way, the answer is yes.  As in all wars or military conflicts, the soldiers pay the price of political decisions.  Our soldiers have performed professionally and can take pride in their professional performance.

Second, these claims will open the US to suits in the World Court where Iraqi citizens seek to address their personal losses.

Third, the World Court actions won’t stop at just financial.  Bush and Cheney (and Rumsfeld) would be subject to crimes against humanity and lengthy jail sentences (if they are spared the death penalty).

So here is a statement the Obama and Clinton camps could adopt and then move on to other important issues.

“The Iraq War was initiated without Constitutional approval and before sufficient information had been assembled on whether Iraq possessed WMD.  The White House judgement was unfortunate and betrayed the confidence of the Congress and American people.  We pledge that in ensuring the security of America, we will follow the Constitution and use military action as truly the last resort.”

Democratic Assessment

January 10, 2008

It would appear that the Democrats are down to three serious candidates.  Bill Richardson is poised to announce his withdrawal today and Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, while interesting were never serious candidates.  Barack, Hillary, or John would make a competent President and we can be assured that with any of them, there would be no repeat of the Bush/Cheney raid on human and civil rights.

The race to pick the President nominee has still a long way to run.  One might say, in fact, that the Presidency is the Democrats to lose.  Only the Democrats beating themselves will put a Republican in the White House in 2009.  But it has been done before.  Here’s some advice:

1. Hillary needs to run a straight up, here’s what I will do campaign.  She does not need to speak poorly of Barack or John because she has the inherent lead in voters and she has the resources to win.  Hillary’s loss in Iowa and close call in New Hampshire can be traced to a sterile packaging of Hillary.  She appeared smug and aloof.  Rather than admit, you got me there, she would deny what was obvious and blame the other person.  It is not necessary.  Play to women and the middle, not the extremes.

2. Barack needs to clarify his change message to be clear that the change is from George W Bush policies first and foremost.  He can amplify that he will not be a safe haven for lobbyists although this will be a very difficult promise to live up to (but for now it is safe).  He should continue is message of inclusion and head for the center.

3. John Edwards has the most difficult road to take.  His message simply will not win because it appeals to too few people.  He needs to continue his message but broaden it to appeal to a greater share of the center.  Regardless his only chance is as a compromise candidate should Hillary and Barack become deadlocked and unwilling to compromise.  Under these circumstances he can not afford to alienate any elements of the Democratic Party now.

There is a huge club waiting to be used in the actual Presidential race.  The club is called fiscal responsibility or better, the lack of it under the Republican Bush Administration.  The Republican standard bearer, whomever that will be, will surely point to each plank in the Democrat’s platform and call it wasteful and too expensive.  Yet sitting out there in front of every one is a Trillion dolar war that was a war of choice (and deception).  When ever the Democrats are accused of spending too much on healthcare, the response should be, it is less than the cost of the Iraq War and will not cost 4000 American lives.

Our Country needs a time for healing and a time to refocus on what are really those issues in our national interests.  China and India are not going to go away.  Russia is still going to hold enormous energy reserves and will be the Russia we see today.  Africa will continue to be a mess as will the Middle East.  Both Africa and the Middle East are about the haves and have nots and only secondarily about ethnic or religious differences.  In the US we have very serious problems that will not go away either.  Look in any major city and see how the poor exist.  It is not enough to say it is a problem of education (although the poor are uneducated), it is not enough to say it is a problem of jobs (although the poor lack jobs or jobs that pay enough), and it is not a problem of broken or single parent families (although the poor overwhelmingly have dysfunctional families), it is all of this and more.  How to break this chain will not come from lower taxes, less government, more guns, pro-life, or fear of terrorists.  And it may not come from better healthcare, a new version of no child left behind, higher taxes, gun controls, or big government.  I do not know the answer but I am sure it will take dramatic steps that are inclusive, respectful, and above all offer the poor a full seat at the table.  Like any other immigrant group in the past (some say the poor are not immigrants), the excluded group must earn its way into the greater group.  This will be the task of a new Presidency, how to initiate this process, see that it keeps going, and still keep focus on all the other issues.

Bill Moyers

January 5, 2008

Last evening Bill Moyers held an information session on the 2008 Presidential nomination process that should make all other honest media stars ashamed.  Bill interviewed Kathleen Hall Jamieson, author and University of Pennsylvania professor, Ron Paul, and Dennis Kucinich.  It was a gift to sane thinking and a wake up call to the hash that mainstream TV, radio, and newsprint are serving up on this race.

Ms Jamieson was positive on every account and underscored the great loss to a relevent discussion that results when Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich are denied participation in any of the televised debates.  Following Ms Jamieson, Ron and Dennis demonstrated why.  While totally opposite on how they see a just and practical world, the shined a bright spot light on the thin and often dead end view of Government policy that the leading candidates espouse.

Ron Paul is a phenomenon that should be studied closely.  He stands for so many things that are not practiced today (no soldiers overseas, no or very little taxes, no Federal Reserve, free speech, right to privacy etc).  It is very difficult to see how you can get from here to there.  Despite that, Paul is raising more money that most of the other candidates and none of it seems to be coming from special interests.

Dennis Kucinich reminds me a little of Hubert Humphrey (the happy warrior).  Dennis speaks of a world watched over by a caring government where no one goes without basic needs.  In Dennis’ world, everyone has a job, cheerfully contributes their fair tax share, and is never called upon to bare arms since the government conducts its foreign policy such that wars do not occur.

Yet amazingly these two projections of extremes show that somewhere in between there is some center ground that might be both better than the Bush extremism and achievable.  These two candidates are serving America mightily and should be listened too, if only to provide a guide to a better position than present.

Iowa Speaks

January 4, 2008

Iowa voters made it official with their selection of Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama as winners of the Republican and Democratic caucuses.  Both victories have to be described as impressive since both candidates attracted many new voters.  It remains unclear what this will mean long term but their individual candidacies have been given a shot of credibility.  Here are some other observations and possible projections.

1. The ranks of candidates should decrease sharply in the days ahead.  Already Joe Biden and Chris Dodd announced they were withdrawing.  Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich should not be far behind.  Ducan Hunter must be independently wealthy if he stays in much longer with an absolute zero chance.

2. While Romney may be qualification-wise the best Republican candidate, the Iowa vote is a strong indicator that he will lose to anyone with an ounce of charisma.

3. Rudy was able to under achieve his already low expectations.  His strategy of waiting until Florida is a very long shot and will require that the current leaders to self destruct.

4. Fred Thompson missed his opportunity to bow out and endorse John McCain.  Fred managed to get more votes than John.

5. John Edwards is holding the perverbial 2nd best hand and will plow on to a near certain defeat in each of the next states.  I do not see his presence as enhancing the choice between Hillary and Barack and therefore he will be a distraction.

6. Bill Richardson is on track to be a strong VP candidate.

7. Hillary is in for the long haul and we will soon know whether she is honorable enough to be President.  Her best chance is to appeal to voters on the basis of maturity and experience and that as a woman, she brings a new and distinctively additive view on domestic and foreign issues.  She has the resources and the organization to still win.  If, however, she stoops to slimming Barack, then for my money she is not worthy of the top position.

8. Michael Bloomberg, I would think, is very pleased with the Iowa outcome.  Bloomberg could beat a creationist who does not pay much attention to the news.  If Iowa means Hillary is mortally wounded, then Bloomberg is freed of a large worry.  But Bloomberg is not so simple as to overlook Obama’s appeal to voters.  A Bloomberg candadacy will require more insight into potential Obama weaknesses.

On to New Hampshire and the next round.


January 2, 2008

Tomorrow the Iowa caucuses will be held and the world will hardly change.  To be sure there will be much press coverage and whatever the results, the pundits will speak great volumes.  What will the results tell us that we do not already know?   Here are some idea.

1. Mike Gravel and Duncan Hunter will pick up less than 5 votes each.

2. Dennis Kucinich will tie his poor showing to his honesty on UFO sightings.

3. Ron Paul will thank Iowans for their money and move on to New Hampshire.

4. Rudy will spend the day in Florida since it is warmer there and he really never liked Iowa.

5 Chris Dodd will begin the process of taking his kids out of Iowa schools and moving them back to Connecticut.

6. Joe Biden will declare victory having not overcome the disadvantages of running a clean and honest campaign.

7. Fred Thompson will sleep through the day and wake up Friday only to find out that he finished fourth.  Bill Richardson will also finish fourth and will call it a strategic victory.

8. Hillary and John Edwards will boast of their strong showings (admittedly third and second respectively) and move on to New Hampshire.  Musharraf (President of Pakistan) will call Edwards and say “you turkey, I thought you said you were going to win”.

9. John McCain and Mitt Romney will issue a joint statement disavowing any use of negative campaign ads in the future.  They will point to their third and second place finishes as examples of how the caucus goers got mislead.

10. The Winners, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee will graciously accept the mandate that winning Iowa brings….   Obama will remind us that he is ready to make change and Huckabee will thank God (even though God was not spotted at any of the caucuses).  Huckabee will also say under his breath that he is not a Mormon and that nice things do not happen to Mormons.

11. The newscasters and pundits will predict the bounce that each candidate will get from Iowa and then tell us that New Hampshire residents see everything much differently and that Iowa does not count that much.  So what else is new.   

A Pause to Reflect

December 9, 2007

This weekend has seen the two O’s throwing dust in everyone’s eyes.  Hillary is clearly getting the most attention but the dust is just as well dusting John Edwards, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, and Bill Richardson.  If there was ever a candidate of hope, it is Barack Obama.  If elected, we are going to wake up and hope he will know what to do as President.

Before that outcome can take place there will be a bruising primary campaign. 

1. Hillary will inevitably need to declare who she really is.  It almost does not matter whether she is very progressive or a more conservative progressive.  The issue Hillary must face and over come is that she appears not genuine.  She could be hard as tacks or show a soft side, but what ever. it must be genuine.  Hillary may decide to roll the dice and stay with her current “have it both ways” approach and believe that in the larger states her personal star appeal will win out over Obama.  This might get her the nomination, but it will leave her with a much less committed Democratic base.

2. John Edwards will wake up soon to realize that Obama is marginalizing him everyday without saying anything.  Obama stands for hope of a different type of politics in Washington.  (a very unlikely outcome, however, but many voters are fed up with the current scene).  Edwards is likely to place a verbal knife between Baracks 4th and 5th rib on his left side (as a good trial lawyer is trained to do).

3. Bill Richardson was quoted as saying “What dust?”  Bill’s in this race for VP or a very prominent position in the new Administration.  From his position, when he finally throws his support to what ever candidate is about to win, he will be a winner too.

4. Chris Dodd and Joe Biden are both worthy men but have no chance with or without the Ophra effect.

5. Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel have too busy looking for UFO’s to have noticed the 2 O’s and that is the way it will be even after the nomination is won.

All the candidates must continually be reminded of the following three things.

1. The Office of the President is an enormously difficult job and doing well in it, given all the things that happen through no fault of yourown, is even more difficult. 

2. There is little national consensus on almost all major issues.  It will not be the plan or ideal about the future as much as how the next President can regain American’s trust and bring more of them to the middle or center ground.

3. Bush and Cheney have tried to return royalty to the White House.  This is a huge mistake and we see the damage from it all around.  Set the goal to be a better president than George Bush.

More on a Third Party

November 9, 2007

The difference between Republicans and Democrats is not very much and generally makes little meaning.  Sure the Republicans have traditionally favored the wealthy, farmers, and big business, and the Democrats have favored public works, unions, and the middle class.  But in a strange way these all worked symbiotically.  Money to big business provided jobs for the middle class and aid to farmers provided food at low purchasing cost.  A healthy middle class provided good workers who bought farm products as well as other American made goods.  As I look around the world is looking a little different today.

1. The devastation of the Bush/Cheney years has only begun to be realized.  In the years ahead we will pay a huge price for division in the US (issues such as gay and lesbian rights, an unrealistic immigration rhetoric, the super rich-poor divide, red-blue states, woman’s rights to choose, and surrender of the foreign policy to neoconservatives).

2. The IOU’s being racked up on a war that was unnecessary and can not end in anything like a victory, will eat away at the strength of the dollar (and the value of everyone’s savings).

3. The wholesale pandering of the major news organizations are feeding their listeners or viewers to pre-digested, fully spun, fact-less dribble of information.  There are no more Walter Chronkites on commercial TV.

4. Campaign financing is totally out of control.  With effectively unlimited contributions, any candidate’s message can drown out what may actually be the case.  And the more the money, the more each candidate is going to owe their contributors.

Interestingly the internet is providing money relatively anonymously in small bundles where strings are not obviously attached.  Internet communications is also a source of refreshing balanced information.  (The balance comes from the whole set of internet reports, not from a single report.)

So the question of where does a third party fit. 

1. It might not be just a third part, it may be a number like 5-10 new ones.  Can you see Paul, Huckabee, Romney, and Giuliani all in the same party?   With the exception of Kucinich, the other Democrats are different peas in the same pod. 

2. What seems missing in all the candidates is (1) a vision of the future and what type of foreign policy will best get us there and (2) the serious situation our economy is facing (from world competition and wasteful spending, including the Iraq War) and how to reinvigorate the productive capacity of the US.  You won’t produce these visions and ideas on the strength of farm policy or union support.

3. If we say that Republicans are soon to be the party of less government, non-progressive taxes, and evangelical/fundamentalist religious businesses, and the Democrats are the party of government redistribution of wealth and policy according to polls, then there is an opening for the Pragmatists, Reality Engineers, and America Union Parties, to name just three.

4. 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

5. Reality Engineers 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 Engineers 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 Engineers primary focus is on the environment and fully renewable energy.

6. The American Union Party is dedicated to “one America” where a common union is formed with Mexico, Canada, and the US.  This party believes in the power of people, education, and the huge common market.  This party more than the others 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 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.

I wonder whether these predictions will worry Hillary, John, Barack, Rudy, Mit or Fred?  (We already know that nothing scares McWho).

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

November 7, 2007

Yesterday the House of Representatives debated the appropriateness of Articles of Impeachment for Dick Cheney.  In a bazaar twist, the Democrats voted to push the measure to committee where it is felt it will never see the light of day.  The reason given is that Democratic leadership thought voters might consider it “too partisan” a measure.

This is not what I would call courageous leadership.  It is true that Dennis Kucinich introduced the bill and lacking courage is not one of his faults.  A far bigger reason to table the bill (and seriously study it) is to ensure it is a sound measure and that the Articles are not laughable. 

The Democratic leaders will reap rewards that they do not want by this gutless action.  The lack of interest in pursuing impeachment, while expedient, will neither provide Cheney with proper consequences of his actions that he so richly deserves, nor will it clear his name if most Americans have gotten it wrong.  Americans have registered low opinions of Congress and this lack of action will simply reinforce American’s distrust of their elected officials.  The Country can not tackle the big issues facing us with this low an opinion of those we have already elected to lead.

School Children

October 31, 2007

Last evening’s 2008 Democratic Presidential Debate was an exercise in childishness lead by a totally unhelpful duo of NBC television personalities.  Beginning with the clearly staged questions that asked “nothingness” to the uneven split of candidate air time, NBC did no one any favors, particularly the viewing public.  As bad as NBC was, the candidates found a way to come out worse.  School children best describes most of them.

Hillary – While clearly the most sophisticated and the most focused on the national election, Hillary still chose to respond to the whining of the other candidates.  For most of the responses she came out ok, but at best neutral.  For some of the responses she looked like someone caught with their hand in the cookie jar.  The questions were meaningless or involved the obvious, and many sounded like “did you stop beating your husband”.  Hillary missed too many opportunities to redirect the line of question to a comparison of her and George Bush and that all the Republicans were George Bush clones.

Barack – Probably the evening’s biggest disappointment was Barack.  He keeps beating the same dead horse that Hillary voted for the Iraq War and he was against it.  The problem is that a lot of other people voted for the War (and were wrong).  Barack acted like someone with the second best hand in a high stakes poker game.  His hand is good but is still a loser.

John – As an orator, he was quite impressive.  John has courted the Unions and Trial Lawyers and received a  lot of money from them.  That did not stop him from pointing the finger at Hillary and implying she would be influenced by all the contibutors she has rounded up.  John is another Jimmy Carter (outsider) and will make a poor President (although many times a better one than George Bush).

Chris – As Hollywood casting goes, Chris looks very presidential.  His oratory delivery sounds also very authoritative.  But it is a big reach to see him as the Standard Bearer.

Bill – Sad is the only words I can find to describe the Richardson candidacy at this point.  He hammered and hammered at the same point… “I am the only candidate who has negotiated face to face with foreign leaders…”   (Someone needs to tell him that Presidents do not negotiate, the State Department does.)  I believe Bill is a very good person but he would not motivate or energize anyone as President.

Joe – The one bright spot of the evening was Joe Biden.  He alone blew away the dumb questions being raised by the NBC moderators.  To the question about pledging to stop Iran’s nuclear program (which was a baited trap leading to supporting war), Joe pointed out that Iran was the tail and the dog was Pakistan.  Our preoccupation with Iran was completely overlooking the 1000 pound Gorilla (Pakistan) since Iran would have only a few grams of fissionable material while today Pakistan has 1000’s.  In a few words Joe pointed out the enormous blind spot in the Bush/Cheney thinking.

Dennis – Without a doubt the most interesting candidate is Kucinich.  He is clear and unequivocating.  Dennis is however an open socialist and would have no chance in the election process.  Should there be a religious right third party candidate, I would not be surprised to see Kucinich run as a social progressive candidate.

The sorry lesson of last night is

1. We can not count on the media to ask important and telling questions.

2. We can not count on the candidates to tell why they should be selected unless they do it by comparison to another.

3. The 2008 election is already over if the Democrats simply run on George Bush’s record and that they will be a saner, more compasionate, and competent party.  It is not clear from last night whether the Democratic candidates understand this.