Vote! Whatever the flavor. Just do it, America. Exercise that most precious right or lose it. Get off the couch, off that fence and make a decision. What are you waiting for?
Depending on messianic candidates mesmerizing the electorate to show-up every four years is a poor way to run a government. That’s democracy lite. We need muscle, we need the beef and heft of a working congress. And that takes an effort every two years on our part. What , short of crises, can motivate us? Any ideas? Contests? Raffles?
How about something like the New York rally this Sunday by the non-partisan organization Why Tuesday? — “using the occasion to kick off its campaign, called LET’S FIX IT, to raise awareness about low voter turnout in the USA. Why Tuesday? is also offering a prize of $64,000 — in cash — to the person who comes closest to predicting the national voter turnout for the 2014 midterm election.” How about plain ole patriotism? Or for the fun of it ROCK THE VOTE!
The question about what Hillary would run on seems to be getting at least one answer: More and more she’s talking like an anti-Wall Street populist. (Polls of Democratic voters, especially in all-important Iowa, show real concern about her credentials for this claim.)
So far it seems that someone who could be helpful to that effort isn’t buying it — Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Clinton did her best last week to heap praise on the Massachusetts Democrat, and echo the fiery professor’s popular appeals for economic fairness – which has made Warren a rock star on the midterm campaign trail.
“I love watching Elizabeth,” Clinton said on the stump in Massachusetts. “You know, give it to those who deserve to get it. Standing up not only for you, but people with the same needs and same wants across our country.”
Clinton called Warren a “passionate champion for working people and middle class families” during a stop for the Democratic candidate for Massachusetts governor, Martha Coakley.
Warren was at the same stop, but took off before Clinton could get the photo opportunity that she surely wanted. And in her own stem-winder bashing big banks Warren was not nearly as gushing in return: “I’m happy to welcome Secretary Clinton back to the commonwealth. We love it.”
Also last week, on CNN, Warren seemed to reject any notion that Clinton can be counted among the party’s anti-Wall Street wing. Asked if the ex-New York senator is too close to the financial sector, she said:
“I have said I worry about everyone who is too close to Wall Street. When I describe what this is about, it’s about who does government work for. I worry everywhere.”
When People magazine recently tried to get Warren to talk about her relationship with Clinton she was about as reticent as it gets: “We have talked. It’s not much more than that. Not much more.”
A Telling Reversal
For some history on the ideological gulf between the two, consider a 2004 video interview recently released by The Bill Moyers Show. Warren describes how Hillary reversed herself on a pro-business bankruptcy bill that Warren considered unfair to consumers. As First Lady in the 1990’s Clinton heeded Warren’s pleas to persuade Bill to veto the bill — a move Clinton boasted about in her autobiography.
But once joining the Senate, Clinton gave in to intense pressure from credit card companies, and voted for a revived version of the bankruptcy bill she had once so proudly opposed.
“As Senator Clinton, the pressures are very different,” Warren told Moyers. “She has taken money from the groups, and more to the point, she worries about them as a constituency.”
By the way, when running for president in 2007 Clinton left out that Senate vote for the bankruptcy bill when citing her earlier work against it as First Lady, calling it evidence that she “fought the banks.” Warren must really be seething about that.
Clearly, Clinton’s effort to shed her Wall Street ties for Warren-style populism lacks the convert she might need most: Warren herself.
It is hard to put a precise time on when I fell out of love. There was no big argument or momentous event that caused a sudden rift in our relationship. Instead it happened gradually, imperceptibly. But I have now come to terms with the fact that she is no longer a central part of my life. We stay together, mostly out of habit. But I no longer cherish waking up with her every morning and finding her fresh, entertaining, and endlessly interesting.
I do remember falling in love with her, though. It was the mid-seventies. It was love at first sight. This was the Watergate era in Washington. She had an uncanny inside access to all the sordid details as the scandal unfolded. Every day I looked forward to hearing what new facts she had uncovered in her deep, throaty voice. My, she did know how to tell a story. She also had wide-ranging interests. In addition to politics and world events she could spellbind with the depth of her knowledge in culture, the arts and sports. She loved her sports. She was a booster and a fan and seemed to enjoy them all, going beyond just knowing the scores and statistics, providing smart and colorful commentary about anything from the Redskins to high school rivalries.
She seemed to know everything that was going on in Washington. She may not have cared very much for the suburbs, but she knew the city, its movers, its neighborhoods, its flaws and its characters. Everyone who knew her had a favorite topic and was eager to learn what she knew. She was quoted at power lunches and solons throughout the day.
While she was older than I, she had youthfulness and an enthusiasm that was infections. At times her opinion seemed to color her judgment, but for most of us that was part of her charm. We matured together over the years. She had her rivals at times, but was never threatened by them, especially on her home turf. She knew she knew she was the real star, and could therefore just ignore them as they came and went from the scene.
She was also generous and compassionate, she noted births and attended funerals. When tragedy struck she could be counted on to offer assistance, and always knew the right thing to say to bring understanding and comfort. But she could also deliver criticism when needed, a wake-up call where she saw injustice.
The eighties were her ‘Hollywood’ phase. She made new friends, many from California and the West, who exuded glamor and style more than intellect. But the men were handsome and the women beautiful. In the nineties, she had a fling with a younger man, a ‘bad boy’ who was able to charm her in ways that allowed her to overlook his flaws. When his past caught up with him and his star faded, she stuck with him and defended him against his detractors, though I could see she was hurt.
But then things began to change. Without noticing it at first, but seeing it now in retrospect, her freshness wilted. Her stories, which once rivaled those of Scheherazade, began to seem repetitious and stale. Her eloquence began to fade; she made grammatical errors that broke the spell. Worse, I began to realize that I had often already heard the stories she was now telling. Sometimes, I even heard them from her the day before. She was less engaged in the world and began to simply repeat what others were saying. She said there was a web conspiring to bring her down. She began to go to bed early, and seemed to be indifferent as to whether she had anything new to say or not. Her opinions, once fresh and insightful, now were entirely predictable, cranky, even boring. Those she invited in to share opinions consisted of the same people who had been around for years, seldom anything or anybody new was present. And when someone new was added to her circle, it seemed more for the label than for the wine. It was clear that her world was changing far more quickly than she either desired to or could. Some say she suffers from poor circulation, and others have suggested an extended trip, perhaps an adventure to the Amazon will revitalize her. I don’t know, but for me the old magic is gone.
Old love dies hard. She is still part of my life, just not as important to me. I no longer consider her my window to the world, and sometimes find myself ignoring her entirely. But we had some great times together over the years. There is always that.
Anyone who has been around me for any length of time knows that I don’t like people. Not people as individuals but people as an overwhelming crowd, and quite frankly, we need some crowd control. Unfortunately, I was born in paradise. California in the 1940s had about 8 million people. The last time I was there, it had 40 million. As Gertrude Stein said when she tried to go back to Oakland after a long absence: “There’s no there there.” Or to echo Joni Mitchell they paved Paradise and put up a parking lot. That realization and a sensitivity about the environment made me look at the population of the globe.
We have just been through the Ebola scare here in the US and the outbreak continues in a few countries in Africa. It is estimated that the current outbreak in Africa until contained will hit 10,000 deaths per day. Will 10,000 deaths per day put a dent in the crowd? Not a chance. Combine it with flu pandemic, a few tornadoes, earthquakes, Monsoons, and multiple wars, will it put a dent in the crowd? Not a chance.
If not a single child were born for the next 30 years and the death rate continued on the same current level, we would only be down about 1.5 billion people. There would still be about six billion left. All of those people, the majority of which are perfectly good human beings who love their family and friends just want to go about their business of working, eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, and making love to make more babies. There really isn’t anything wrong with them except that they exist.
Because they exist, they strip forests for farmland. Because they exist, they pour the products of their civilization into the oceans. Because they exist, they are destroying the habitat of all the other species on the planet. Because they exist they want to stay warm or cool. They want to cook. They want to run their machines. They want their sewage to go elsewhere. To do all those things, they strip the land of coal and oil. They drain the aquifers that took millions of year to fill. They pour carbons into the atmosphere. They heat and acidify the oceans. Quite frankly, they are really, really dirty and due to modern technology, the majority of them are useless and replaced by the machines they created.
For several million years, the human race trundled along with less than a billion people. Then they discovered germs and viruses. Magnificent! We can cure. We can save. We can keep people alive. We can fix the broken and weak among us who used to die. We can do something that no other species that has ever existed can do. We can save ourselves. Aren’t we wonderful? OOPS! We forgot to lower the birthrate to one child per couple. The chart below shows the result of that mistake.
So here is the question. How do we save the environment? Save the human race without some sort of “Soylent Green” solution?
“Whiners. Bounders. Ingrates. Talking about the incessant griping and sniping currently buzzing over long overdue Republican reforms requiring citizens to produce a government issued ID before casting a vote. From the outcry you’d think the GOP was organizing competitive kitten clubbings. Again.
Face it, the problem isn’t not enough people voting: it’s too many people voting. Time to go back to literacy tests and poll taxes. Restricting the vote to white male Protestant landowners. They’re the ones who run the country. The ones with the most to lose. Oh sure, the constitution states that voting is a right, but it’s also a privilege. Barnacles don’t determine where the whale swims, do they?
Freedom isn’t free. And the rich have the resources to pay for elections. We could set it up so the more they spend, the more votes they get. Until eventually the guy with the most money ends up running things. That’s they way they did it in Europe and they turned out okay. What the hell, we’re at least halfway there.”
What’s the #1 Election Issue in Maine? Bear Baiting.
Here’s how it works. Out-of-shape middle-aged guys from Boston and New York City are willing to spend a couple of grand a piece to come up to Maine to “hunt” a bear. That’s big bucks to the locals.
The city guys don’t actually do any real hunting, of course. Black Bears in the wild are very alert and very clever, so they are difficult to hunt, unlike deer and moose which are really dumb.
So … an entire industry has been developed by “Certified Maine Guides” to accommodate the bear-killing needs of these affluent customers. “Bait” (day-old donuts are popular) is placed in locations near guest lodges, and the guests, dressed in color-coordinated LL Bean hunting clothes, are driven, in rugged-looking extended cab pick-up trucks, to a spot where they can conveniently shoot at the bears, without too much exertion. (Many of the guides carry cardiac defibrillators in their trucks, just in case.)
All of this was fine for decades until a bunch of “whining out-of-state environmentalist nuts and animal lovers” got a voter referendum placed on the November ballot, to ban the practice of Bear Baiting. (Actually it was native Mainers who did it, with a little bit of financial help from national organizations, but that’s not what the talk radio audience wants to hear.)
In addition to regular political ads (i.e., for governor), Mainers have been bombarded by “pro” and “anti” Bear Baiting ads for months.
Here is a short video on the politics of Bear Baiting, explaining why having this issue on the ballot may help the Republican candidate for governor (LePage) and hurt the Democrat (Michaud). Michaud is ahead in the polls, at the moment.
As a nation, our voting muscles are withering away from lack of use and the muscle-bound money bullies are kicking sand in our face.
It’s not just disenchanted baby boomers, according to a Harvard University Institute of Politics study “less than one in four (23%) of Americans under the age of 30 say that they will ‘definitely be voting.'”
We are voting booth wimps when compared to other democracies. For instance: “The United States’ 2012 elections was marked by a low voter turnout with 57.5% of voters going to the polls. Compare that to India and Malaysia where more than 80% of eligible voters cast their ballots in 2013.”
How do we build back that voter muscle? Is there a dynamic tension solution like the one Charles Atlas promised comic book readers?
The President might as well toast marshmallows at Camp David for the Midterm Election. No Democrat in a tight race — and plenty in safer contests — want him around. Perhaps it’s not as bad as LBJ’s end-of-term isolation, when he could only get applause from soldiers at military bases who probably feared court martial if they didn’t.
What’s worse for Democrats is how much fun the GOP is having by associating their foes with Obama.
Check out this ad by Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott, which is saturating TV sets these days. I saw it four times in a single 30-minute newscast last night here in Orlando, and across the dial all day and night. Just think, if Obama were at all popular this could be a Charlie Crist ad:
Fear of terrorists, fear of immigrants, fear of socialism, and now fear of the Ebola virus.
Millions of Americans have become cowards, shivering under their beds, clutching their assault rifles, which are not much use against disease, by the way. (They would be better off if they just washed their hands after using the bathroom.)
Forget about rational discussions about why the (profit-driven) U.S. healthcare system is simultaneously becoming more expensive and declining in quality. (Profits?)
Let us instead devote 24/7 mainstream media coverage to shallow analysis about “how we can protect ourselves from the threat of Ebola.”
Over at Fox News the message is clear: somehow this is all Obama’s fault.
If the GOP gains control of the Senate in November, it may be because of a tiny virus you need an electron microscope to see.
Here is the trailer for “Outbreak” (1995), about an Ebola-like disease epidemic. They should run this film 24/7 on cable TV for a few days, and then we can all talk about Ebola more intelligently.
Jim Webb at the National Press Club last week, talking about economic fairness, foreign policy, and the balance of power between Congress and the president. He said that he was considering running for president in 2016. Afterward, he answered questions submitted from the audience. — CSPAN Video Library