Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Most Dangerous Election Ever?

I am worried about the 2016 general election...very worried. And I think all progressives should be as well. I fear all the elements are there to make this coming election turn out, not just badly for the country, but for the entire world.

Let me explain.

Right now there are really only two “main” candidates, one from each party; Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.

Both Jeb and Hillary are backed by their respective party's insiders. And with good reason. Both would basically maintain the status quo; at least for the Wall Street/Lobbyists/Military Industrial Complex constituencies. Those big money contributors are fine with all this democracy stuff, so long as it does not get in their way. And Hillary and Jeb would insure that it would be business as usual for them.

Oh I know what the Hillary Moonies out there are saying right now; “But Steve, Jeb Bush would be so much worse than Hillary. By not supporting her you are risking putting another Bush in the White House.”

Yeah, heard that. But I've never been much of a fan of the “lesser of evils” voting theory. We've been playing that game for a long time now and, surprise, surprise, mostly we keep getting evils. Also, the vote is supposed to be a near-sacred exercise in the democratic process. So I would like to vote for a candidate that does not make me feel like I have to take a shower after I caste my ballot.

And it's not just me feeling that way. Nor is it just progressives either. Neither Hillary nor Jeb is wildly popular with the growing number of folks who now call themselves “independents,” or “undecided.”

And that's what makes this coming election so dangerous. It's the kind of social/political/ideological stew brewing out there that can make for unhappy surprises. When a large portion of the electorate “throws the bums out,” they more often than not end up electing even bigger and badder bums.

And, if you are looking for a baker's dozen of just such bums, look no further than the GOP's backbenchers angling for their moment in the national spotlight. ch on the GOP side angling for the top job.

Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Rand Paul are a few. Oh, and remember Rick Perry? He has new eyeglasses so he looks smarter -- though in fact he's as dumb as ever.

So let's look ahead. What happens if Hillary Clinton runs virtually unopposed and wins the Democratic Party pole position. And, for now anyway, she is running unopposed.

Then there's Jeb. Unlike Hillary he's not going to run such an easy primary. In fact since he announced his “exploratory committee” the reception among the GOP base has been something less than resounding. It would that even the GOP base has Bush Fatigue.

After a couple of decades of pandering to their social/religious wing-nut base, the GOP has all but lost control of its own party, and maybe its own destiny as well. Which could mean that Jeb bombs in the primaries. Instead one of the party nuts could be hoisted to the party's nomination on the shoulders of their now uncontrollable Tea Party-type delegates.

Again I hear the Hillary folks in my head: “Well that would be great, Steveo. It would mean an even easier win for Hillary in the general election.”

Maybe. But, if I've learned anything about Hillary Clinton over the years it's that, the more you see and hear of her, the less and less you like her. If Bush Fatigue is real, so too is Clinton Fatigue. Though it may lay further beneath the surface, there will be nothing more likely to dig it up than more Hillary.

Simply put, Hillary grates. She is un-genuine in the extreme. She is the most transparent political panderer ever. Her private and public lives are rife with contradictions. For example she plans to make income inequality a centerpiece of her campaign. Really? Is this the same person who takes $300,000 speaking fees from already hard-pressed universities, demands the most expensive private jets and the presidential suites whenever she travels and then, with a straight face, denounces “income inequality.”

All that, and much more, is sure to catch up with her as soon as she hits the stump this Spring. By the time the general election rolls around Hillary Clinton's persona will look like a Pit Bull's chew toy.

Will all that wear down Hillary's progressive base? I feel it already. Many others do too. So it will take it's toll, for sure. And that would be especially so among young voters, who are far less likely to buy the “lesser of two evils' rationalization.

Which could mean that, if indeed the GOP nominates one of those true-blue, Yosemite Sam, crazy-as- a-woodtick ultra-conservatives, an reenergize far-right just might be enough to swing the race.

Meaning that the following Wednesday morning we could wake up to learn Ted Cruz, or Rick Perry of Rand Paul is going to be our next Command-in-Chief.

Stranger things have happen. But never anything so dangerous to America and the world.

And if it does happen here, it would be in step with the disturbing rightward trend we are seeing in several western European nations and the near-fascist trend in several eastern European and former Soviet territories. Troubled times are fertile soil for reactionary, regressive forces.

There are ways to avoid such a fate here at home. It's not complicated; more challengers and better challengers – in BOTH parties. At this point the GOP is offering plenty of challengers but to say the quality is lacking would be a gross understatement. Meanwhile the DNC has apparently decided it agrees with the way China wants to run elections in Hong Kong – with an old horse DNC apparatchik.

Oh my....

Friday, March 20, 2015

What To Do About Israel

March 18, 2015

Tipping points happen. And one just did. With Benjamin Netanyahu's victory the world comes face to face with a fork in the geo-political road. 
One path would keep in place a world-view that Israel is a special case, one that requires a world with a history of wronging Jews, a world that allowed even in the 20th century, an attempt at wholesale extermination, and a world still plagued with anti-Semitism.
That's the easiest path, one that allows non-Jews of good faith to both salve their own feelings of guilt and sympathy, but also to avoid responsibility for what's happening to the other indigenous populations in the region.
Increasingly though, and particularly after the recent openly racist Israeli election, that path has lost much of its appeal and, I suspect, many are looking down that other path wondering if its time....
The problem of course is that other path is a real bugger. It means breaking up with a longterm relationship which, though often troubled, has become part of who we are. A relationship that began with us seeing ourselves as sweeping a damsel in distress into our arms and carrying her to safety, but which has now turned into something that looks and feels more like a Fatal Attraction.
Nevertheless I believe it's time to embark on that path. What does that mean in practical terms?
We no longer reflexively use our veto at the UN to block reasonable measures that Israel opposes. Instead we either abstain or, if we really like the idea (gasp) vote for it.
Tell Israel that from this day forward we will withhold $5 million dollars for every illegal settlement unit built or otherwise supported by Israel.
Begin providing direct financial aid to the Palestinian authority with close US oversight.
The US should join the handful of other countries that have formally recognized the Palestinian state, including the establishment of a US consulate on the West Bank.
In other words, balance what has been a grotesquely loopsided relationship between the US, Israel and the Palestinians. 
What about the dozens of illegal settlements Israel has set up deep inside the West Bank in order to make Palestinian state impossible? Two things can, and should happen in that regard:
The US should begin a process at the UN that would lead to a timeline and deadline for the removal of those settlers.
The PA should organize every local Palestinian community with a nearby Israeli settlement into dozens of nonviolent sieges, surround the settlements 7/24, block roads, make life difficult and, more importantly, raise the costs to Israel of defending those settlements. This will also keep the world's attention focused on the settlement issue and the Palestinians right to their own state, just like Israel. 
So, here we are folks, standing at that fork in the road. If we do nothing but what we've been doing we are going to get nothing but what we've got, only more of it. Time to yank the leash of Israel's neo-fasccst right... and right now.