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I just finished watching NYC mayor, Bill DeBlasio, on Meet the Press.  He was asked by moderator Chuck Todd why Hillary Clinton is the better candidate to get the progressive agenda accomplished.  His answer was, and I am paraphrasing, is that she has the ability to get things done.  She has a history of accomplishing big challenging tasks and the steel to fight for those changes.  Let’s break those comments down.

  1. History of Accomplishments – If you ask any one who follows politics closely what one issue defines Hillary Clinton’s political career, the overwhelming majority would say Health Care reform.  She certainly fought very long and hard but ultimately she and President Clinton failed to achieve any change not just some change.  You could argue that they were facing an obstructionist Republican House and that this was a difficult uphill climb.  In 2017 there’s no reason to believe that calculus changes.  In addition, the right has only become more intransient.  Looking to her time as Senator and Secretary of State I can think of no major standout accomplishment.  More importantly, I am hard pressed to pinpoint any  Progressive initiatives that she has championed.  I am sure there are some but with the level of exposure and notoriety that Clinton has, one would think that we would have heard more.  To me those were simply short-term resume builders to achieve a long term ambition.
  2. She’s a Fighter – She has certainly had to fight, over and over again.  She is really good at fending off attacks.  She’s had to do it her whole career.  It most certainly made her a stronger candidate.  It is also true that she is universally disliked by conservatives, politician and voters alike.  She is also untrusted by many independents.  Those that are her supporters are “all in” on Hillary, but they are a minority, a very well connected minority.  There’s nothing to lead us to believe that from day one of a Clinton v2 presidency the nation will once again be dragged through an endless series of investigations, real or imagined, once again led by a rabidly conservative House.  Once again, the major issues will be sidelined and the sensationalist media will be consumed with covering hearing after hearing.  As it stands right now, Clinton if elected, may be the first president that enters office already embroiled in a scandal.  Can she stand up to these attacks, baseless or not?  Sure.  Knocking down attack after attack does not equate to a more productive president.  I would argue quite the contrary.

It’s time for the Democratic elites to put aside their love of Hillary and pick a true champion of the progressive movement.  To realize that they are move in love with the idea of Hillary than the actual person, that principles and ideals hold more weight than political friendships and personal ambition.

Despite what the mainstream media portrays, Bernie Sanders stands the best chance of winning the White House of any candidate in either party.  Granted, if you are a ‘true’ conservative any argument to vote for Sanders would fall on deaf ears.   I am not here to convince those people.  But if you are a progressive and you are still on the fence on whether or not you should throw your support to Clinton or Sanders, I will outline why the latter is the better choice and why candidate Clinton may lead to serious case of heartburn and buyer’s remorse.

  1. SANDERS is more electable and more likeable.  Again, if all you listen to and watch is FOX, CNN, or MSNBC this might be quite a surprising statement.  Over the last several months there have been multiple polls, both from old media and the typical political pollsters that, hands-down, Bernie beats every current candidate.  In most cases, he is beating contenders by double-digits.  Those same polls show Clinton leading just marginally or in same cases in a virtual tie with Republican adversaries.  Keep in mind this is before we even get to the general election.   In additional polls, Sanders is the only candidate on either side who polls positively with the electorate.  Let’s break that down.  Cruz, Trump and Clinton all have greater negative perceptions by the general populace.  That’s a tough position to campaign from.  Often what that requires is that you motivate your base at the detriment of alienating those who are somewhat ambivalent to you, thus increasing your negatives.  Sanders has the upper-hand.
  2. SANDERS is  an Independent.  Sanders has spent his entire political career as an Independent.  That matters.  Despite what many might believe we are not a Red/Blue country, divided by two far extremes.  Most people who vote hold positions that fall on either side of the center line.  The largest voting block is in fact Independents!  As it currently stands, they are practically unrepresented in the primary process.  There are a few states where independents can vote but that is a small minority.  Those independents will need someone to turn to once the parties have decided their candidates.  If the choice is between Clinton or Trump/Cruz, one of two things will happen, the independent minded will come out for the anti-establishment candidate or they will not like their options and stay home.  In either case, Clinton loses.  If instead it is a contest between Sanders or Trump/Cruz, we have a different story altogether.  Sanders not only resonates with independents but also energizes the youth vote.  Worst case scenario he would split Independents with Trump/Cruz and drive up  Democratic turnout.  I  can’t imagine a scenario where Clinton accomplishes that.
  3. SANDERS is NOT Clinton.  Pretty obvious statement.  Let’s break that down a little bit.  Clinton can certainly make a great argument that she is the ‘experience’ candidate.  Her career spans many decades and many branches of government, including a foreign policy position as Secretary of State.  Consider though, that she has spent much of that time defending herself against right-wing ideologues who have spent not only exorbitant amounts of time but also hundreds of millions of private and public dollars trying to destroy her.  Most of these accusations have resulted in very little substantive outcomes.  We are living in a time of serious issues that need serious attention.  A President Clinton (v2) would most certainly be one filled with constant investigations and hearings led by a Republican led House.  We can’t afford to be distracted by that, not now.  Sanders does not carry that same baggage.  Does that mean he wouldn’t be targeted by right-wing attacks.  That remains to be seen but given his respectable career it would be tough.  Keep in mind, Obama has seen 8 years of a nearly scandal free tenure.  The one glaring exception to that record is Benghazi.  And yes, you guessed it Secretary Clinton was at the center of that one.

So there you have it!  3 solid reasons why Bernie should be the nominee.  I hope for many I have extinguished some media myths and made a rational argument.  I understand that there may be some policy positions that you disagree with Sanders on.  That’s only natural.  But in the end, if what we are looking for is a candidate that can win and will represent people over special interests then there really is only one choice.  My progressive NY friends, let your voices be heard!

 

 

 

Gun Culture

In a recent Google Hangout session, televised on PBS, Vice President Joe Biden was interviewed by reporter Hari Sreenivasan and 5 pre-chosen Americans.  In part of that interview the VIce President made a comment concerning “gun culture”.  He adeptly navigated the gun control waters, trying to ensure that he did not enflame the anger of the NRA and its legions of paranoid, heavily armed members.  The comment was was the following:

There is a legitimate, respected and I think as old as the country, culture of gun ownership in America.  My dad was a hunter.  My dad had a gun case full of some fairly valuable weapons.  It’s a legitimate and respected tradition

I agree with all of the statements that the Vice President states.  Every last one.  What I disagree with Vice President on are his conclusions about these facts.  Namely that “gun culture” in America is not part of the “gun problem”.  That somehow the merit of a particular facet of our society should  be judged on how long it has been around and how tightly woven it has become in our lives.  To that point here are few examples of why that line of thinking is unfounded:

  • For the the first 100+ years of of our nations history many parts of society had a deep tradition of slavery.  In fact, it constituted an entire industry and was the backbone of the Southern economic infrastructure.  But it was wrong.  We came to that conclusion, only just before Cuba did.  Coming in almost dead last in that realization.  It cost 500,000 lives to uproot that tradition.
  • In the not so distant past, smoking public was completely unrestricted in American society.  Smoking was an activity that was glamorized by Hollywood and propagandized by the Tobacco industry.  It was as American as apple pie.  But once the scientific data began to mount and the practices of industry were exposed that “tradition” also succumbed to clearer thinking.  Today, you are hard pressed to find a public establishment that is permitted to allow smoking in their establishment. 
  • Finally, I come to a popular topic of the conservative minded.  The Right would argue that the ills and misfortunes of the inner cities and minority communities are not the fault of the government but instead can be attributed to a culture of dependency and violence.  It might come as a surprise but I actually agree, at least in part.  Generally speaking, if your society embraces and glorifies gangs, teen promiscuity, drug use and a lack or personal responsibility you cannot legitimately blame all of your misfortune on the rest of society.  The problem of the inner city will never be fully resolved until a light is shone back on the community.

We cannot dismiss a particular aspect of a problem just because it’s part of a long and widely held tradition.  We, as Americans, need to stop defending everything that we are and everything we do as sacrosanct.  As though, if we came up with it, there could be no wrong to come from it.  We need to have the humility and, dare I say, courage to look within ourselves and examine our motivations.  I am not advocating a repeal of the 2nd Amendment.  I am advocating that a real honest debate and examination of American gun culture begin in earnest.

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Book Fair – Debacle

thThis is R.I.O.T. (Reading Instead of Television) month at my children’s elementary school.  RIOT month is supposed to encourage children to set aside “screen” time for good ole fashion reading.  This has never been an issue in our house.  We have been doing book time every night since my oldest was 2 years old.  Reading is just a way of life for us.  To be honest, it’s all my wife’s doing.  With that said, one of the rewards for participating in the program is that the children get to fill out slips for each “x” amount of minutes that they read.  They then use those as tickets in a drawing to win books that were donated by the community.  I think you can see the idea…self-reinforcing concept.  I must admit it’s a great program.  But there is an issue that came up recently.  Apparently, someone(s) decided to donate a collection of Christian texts to the school, a public school albeit.  I have my suspicions about the donors intentions.  My wife was extremely annoyed upon discovering that our 6 year old chose a children’s bible when she won the drawing.  Being a volunteer at the school she confronted the individuals about the religious text.  She was assured that it was simply overlooked when they were going through the donations.  I can understand that, if it was the truth.  Turns out, the following week, my wife, in her volunteer capacity was going through the donations and found no less than 5 additional books that were Christian focused.  She promptly pulled them out and will be donating them to a local church.

So what’s the point of this story?  To my surprise, my wife and I had very different reactions to this particular situation.  She was very irritated by it all and was upset that our daughter chose the book she did.  My stance was; despite the obvious attempt by a certain individual or individuals to push their agenda on impressionable children, I am not concerned by her being exposed to different views and ideas.  Was this an example of a violation of the 1st Amendment?  Maybe?  But ultimately my daughter chose the book herself.  She should be allowed to read what interests her.  That’s the difference between the open-mindedness of free thinkers and the narrowed-mindedness of religion.  Ultimately I want my children to be exposed to all kinds of ideas and being grounded in an upbringing that teaches them to be skeptical, rational and scientific, I am highly confident that they will come to truthful and factual conclusions.

The intention of the 2nd Amendment - Thehour.com: Letters

Many, including the NRA, argue that the 2nd Amendment protects the right of the individual to own “guns” in order to protect himself from the potential abuses of a tyrannical government.  This article contends that is, in fact, not the case at all.

Even if you were to assume that the NRA and its paranoid ilk were correct in their assumptions, do we honestly believe that hand guns and semi-automatic weapons would be any match against a government that possesses nuclear, biological and chemical weapons?  The argument for individual protection from a tyrannical government no longer holds water.  And if we eliminate that argument then what we have left is a rational interpretation, much like what is presented below.

Mr. Jacovitz recently claimed in a letter to The Hour that gun ownership prevented the Japanese from landing on the West Coast during WWII.

via The intention of the 2nd Amendment – Thehour.com: Letters.

Despite the fact that on most occasions the New York State legislature disappoints its constituents, today they passed the first in the nation laws, following the Sandy Hook massacre. Apart from feeling safer, I hope that this set of new regulations make us safer. I will be paying close attention. You should too…because at the end of the day we need laws that are not about political grandstanding but real positive societal change.

On the eve of Charles Darwin’s birthday I want to take a moment and tell you about a movie that never made it into wide circulation in the United States.  The movie is called “Creation”.  I have blogged about the movie before,  mostly to lament my inability to see it.  At the time of its release back in 2009, I would have had to travel 300 miles to view this movie in exactly “1” Manhattan cinema.  Yes I said “1”!  Well surely it must have been a movie that just wouldn’t have had wide appeal with two bit actors and a measly budget.  Not so!!  The movie stars Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly.  Their movie credits include such critically acclaimed works as, A Beatiful Mind (Oscar Winning), the DaVinci Code, and The Tourist.  The reason that this movie was kept from America was the “controversy” of its subject; evolution.  What most educated 1st world nations accept as fact, we here in America are still on the fence about.  And apparentlythe last thing we can handle is any form of rational discussion on the topic, something that this movie would have most certainly provided.  It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I discovered that Netflix had it in their library for ondemand streaming.  Oh joy!!  I normally nod off pretty early in the evening but when I settled down to watch this cinematic work, I was transfixed.  You must see it, if only to honor the man who dared to speak the truth, a truth he could not ignore, a truth that nearly destroyed his life. 

Happy Birthday Chuck!!!!

James Howard Kunstler

Image by Dean Terry via Flickr

Thought I would share a recent email exchange I had with James Howard Kunstler over the downside of planetary rescaling.  I think we both agree that there is only one direction for humanity, given the current state of affairs.  The point I was trying to make was although globalization has been for the most part a negative, there are some upsides that will be sorely missed in the massive scale back that Jim predicts is inevitable.  Namely, in my opinion, we will see a dramatic rise of regional violence or what might be referred to as “Balkanization”.  As communities become more insular and localized there will no doubt be a de-homogenization of the human species.  That’s great if you like diversity but not so great if you champion the cause of greater peace and harmony.  Here’s the exchange below:

________________________________________________________________________________________

Jim,

Love the podcast and the books.  One thing about your predictions has left me unsettled, a topic not yet addressed.  If we move to a smaller scale society and away from globalization will this not have the effect of Balkanizing the world?  I think one of the great advantages of our modern world has been to open communication and dialogue between citizens of Earth.  This homogenization of society in many ways has led to less conflict between people. I am not suggesting that we should remain in our hyper-consumer, car addicted fantasy.  I just worry that in an effort to curb our consumptive ways that we are going to create a new era of regional conflicts.  I suppose you could argue that this is inevitable either way.  As resources (water, gas, minerals, etc.) dwindle, conflict is nearly unavoidable.  Just thought that the topic would be good for the podcast.  Keep up the great work and say “hey” to Duncan!

Take Care,
Jim Spignardo

________________________________________________________________________________________

From: kunstler james howard [mailto:XXXXXXXXXXX]
Sent: Friday, January 28, 2011 8:49 AM
To: jim@XXXXXXXXX

Subject: Re: Podcast Topic

On Jan 27, 2011, at 11:44 AM, Jim Spignardo wrote:

If we move to a smaller scale society and away from globalization will this not have the effect of Balkanizing the world?  I think one of the great advantages of our modern world has been to open communication and dialogue between citizens of Earth.

Well, sure. of course.

You may like "diversity" et cetera, but the trajectory of events is not based on your personal preferences.

I certainly do expect more friction between various groups and tribes of people contesting for dwindling resources.

Jim

James Howard Kunstler

“It’s All Good”

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Jim

I agree it’s not based on my personal preferences whatsoever, or yours for that matter.  For the record, my preferences aren’t for the continued devastation of our planet at all costs.  My point (although poorly made) is that not much discussion has been paid to how we could possibly keep alive the parts of globalization that have been positive as we move toward smaller scale societies.  If anything “diversity” has caused much of the friction, historically speaking.  I see things moving, in its current state, away from diversity (a mocha world if you would)…at least in the short term.   Thanks for the taking the time to respond and keep up the good work.

Take Care,
Jim Spignardo

_________________________________________________________________________________________

From: kunstler james howard [mailto:jhkunstler@XXXXXX]
ent: Friday, January 28, 2011 11:29 AM
To: jim@XXXXXXX

Subject:RE:Podcast Topic

On Jan 28, 2011, at 11:07 AM, Jim Spignardo wrote:

My point (although poorly made) is that not much discussion has been paid to how we could possibly keep alive the parts of globalization that have been positive as we move toward smaller scale societies. 

I just don’t thing we’re gonna, really.

Jim

James Howard Kunstler

“It’s All Good”

________________________________________________________________________________________

Jim,

That is a sad and miserable portrait that you’re painting. So how do we, as a society , soften the blow? I suppose that’s a topic for a much longer discussion.

Take Care,
Jim Spignardo

________________________________________________________________________________________

Not really. The future I depicted in my "World Made By Hand" novel and it’s sequel is real different from ours, but it’s not miserable.

Globalism was an anomalous set of conditions. Now it’s passing. We’ll be more focused on our own region, for the better.

Jim

James Howard Kunstler

“It’s All Good”

 

 

If you are interested in more of JH Kunstler’s ideas and predictions see the right navbar for a feed of his weekly article and subscribe to the KunstlerCast Podcast.

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Book Review–The God Delusion

 

I am currently reading the infamous work of Richard Dawkins that I so often here quotedThe God Delusion [18/11/07 228] in atheist circles.  I am about 3/5 of the way through it and will  be posting my review here in what I hope is several days and not weeks.  So far I must way I am not disappointed in the least.  Although it certainly is heady reading, Dawkins does a great job of using analogies to everyday occurrences and scenarios to explain complicated arguments.  Keep you posted!

WordPress Tags: Book,Review,Delusion,Richard,Dawkins,atheist,Although,analogies,occurrences,scenarios,arguments,Keep

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This is a recent interiew with Sam Harris about the ongoing denial of the problems within the Islamic faith.  Take a moment to understand it and absorb what he is saying.  It’s very easy to jump to conclusions about his statements if you don’t listen carefully to everything he is saying.  More honesty like this would go a long way to actually addressing the modern crises that humanity faces.