Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jackie Speier's Hollow Candidacy

I use Gmail, and frequently see ads for Mike Huckabee, Mike Bloomberg, and Jackie Speier. It appears that they are all working to improve their campaigns, but Ms. Speier is not running a national one. She's running for Congress in California.

Her ads have shown up for 3 months now, and still her issues pages state "coming soon." This is her entire issues summed up: She's against the war. The war is destroying the American economy. Something must be done about health-care. Better access to student loans.

That's it. Oh, and she's a Democrat. She's vague. But she's fund-raising nationwide using the internet. Big on hype, little on substance. That reminds me of the technology hype of Silicon Valley, movie and music hype of Hollywood, political hype of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and housing hype where homes cost over $500,000. Greens there endorsed Ralph Nader by large numbers, while the rest of America's Greens prefer Cynthia McKinney. Sounds like California to me.

It's good to be a little different and stand out. But what do you stand for? And how effective will you be if you have all hype but no substance (Speier) - or too much substance but little support (Nader)?

I have e-mailed her campaign several times, and have received no reply. I have called her campaign's phone number ( (650) 347-4370 ) and left voice mails twice. When I receive a reply, I will post it - because my focus was on issues and not "what will Jackie's hair look like at the rally? I prefer curly hair.." or other such drivel.

Ms. Speier's campaign reflects current American politics - little on substance and a lot of hype. When asked the tough questions, they prefer to be on both sides of the issue - assuming they answer the question. At a time when America needs serious leadership, we get power-hungry phantoms who prefer to look at the latest poll in deciding what to support and how. Put your finger in the wind and seek the direction of least resistance.

What true leader will stand up and say that America's heading for bankruptcy? Where will solutions to Peak Oil and Global Warming come from if no leader states bluntly that we should stop using energy excessively - and put teeth in legislation to make it happen. "America is addicted to oil" as Bush stated back in 2005. Yet he does nothing to ameliorate our situation. People eat unhealthy foods and buy bigger digital TVs, then wonder why their health-care expenses are so high. When will a true leader tell America that on President can't change the world - that we must all do our part to make America better. And when will Americans of all political stripes band together to solve the myriad of problems facing humanity?

I am not involved in the Greens just because their values match mine. Their members actually do what they politically believe in. They are a vast combination of: vegetarians, who buy organic, garden, live carfree, subsidize wind energy, recycle, strive to live nonviolently, are community and social activists, and won't keep quiet in the face of injustice.

When I see someone in a car toss their Starbuck's latte cup on the street, I calmly walk over and pick it up and find the nearest trash receptacle. When I walk home from work, I pick up cans and trash with a plastic bag I keep with me. I invest in my son's future education and for my own retirement. I don't expect government to do everything for me - because that is now why it exists. Our government is a reflection of our society, and our society is greatly ill. I pray that we wake up, hope that better future can be realized.

But campaigns like Jackie Speier undermine grassroots democracy, in support of a powerful elite with no intention of real change in America. I hope the Greens run against her in California. Though he is NOT a Green, Ralph Nader could run against someone like her. He would still garner media attention and might even get more votes!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Gas Taxes could be called a USER FEE

It is ridiculous to think the Minnesota gas tax should never increase. Some say gas prices are so high an added tax would be regressive, hurting families. Others chide in that the roads are still there, why worry? And some would rather cut all such taxes and rely on income tax alone to fund our roads.

Let's get past the simplistic rhetoric and talk actual facts:

1) Oil prices will never fall again to $1 a gallon ever ( yes, even if Obama or McCain are elected ). We should be happy that they are below $10, because that is what they pay in Europe and what we will pay in 10 years.

2) Adjusted for inflation, Minnesota trunk highway spending in 1998 was $1.4B, with 66% funding from from motor vehicle and fuel taxes. In 2007 we spent $1.5B with 50% from vehicle and fuel taxes. In essence, we have become more reliant on state income tax to pay for roads, meaning less spend on health and education.

3) If we are serious about mitigating the pains of Global Warming and peak oil, we must tax oil more not less. Any tax should be indexed to inflation indefinitely unless we decide roads are unimportant. Or we can create a carbon tax and use that money to further reduce our reliance on hydrocarbons. If a road "user fee" is unacceptable, then why fund them with income taxes?

What is truly shocking about the entire transportation debate in Minnesota, is that it took our largest corporations to influence our legislature that they needed to do something! Are the citizens of Minnesota so far behind the times that they can't understand we are losing our competitive edge?

"No new taxes" means a Minnesota resembling a low-tax Mexico in 30 years. Mexico has plenty of jobs. Yet not enough to keep up with population growth or pay well. I suggest the "no new taxes" people compare low-tax nations with ours. Then we could see for ourselves what they truly suggest.

All the DFLers voted for this change. The Republicans who did risk losing support from the anti-tax wing of their party. I commend them. The Republicans who chose a better future for Minnesota transportation are:


Dille (Dassel); Frederickson (New Ulm)


Abeler (Anoka); Erhardt (Edina); Hamilton (Mountain Lake); Heidgerken (Freeport); Peterson, N. (Bloomington); Tingelstad (Andover)

It is interesting to note that Laura Brod of New Prague chose to not vote. Her calculated voting record probably means she is a future prospect for governor, but is more a liberal/neoconservative than her colleagues.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Superdelegates and Grassroots Democracy

For a political party that claims to believe in democracy, why do they insist on allowing superdelegates? The people who are supposed to be above and beyond the actual delegates are the elected officials and long-term partisans. Their power yields even more power within the party. From my perspective, this wreaks of corruption.

But then again, what is corruption? I consider it the misuse of power. Others only worry about it if they feel hurt by it, because if it helps them it is justified. So much of the US government is corrupt, but we don't worry about things like the National Debt and the environment because our children can worry about that, right?

So when Amy Klobuchar and other party insiders can't decide who they support, while elected from Minnesota, that is okay - right? After all, they have the power and can do with it what they want. Accountability for voting against Minnesota's wishes won't hurt you in a US Senate election because it's not like we have a choice in a two-party system. Minnesota voted for Obama over Clinton at a ration of 2 to 1, yet Amy is having a difficult time deciding how to wield her significant power.

While the hypocrisy of democracy in a two-party system is quite noticeable, we do have options. We can support change where we can, and the Green Party already states its position on Grassroots Democracy:

1. GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives and not be subject to the will of another. Therefore, we will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We will also work to create new types of political organizations which expand the process of participatory democracy by directly including citizens in the decision-making process.

Superdelegates add to the abundant cynics of our election system. It also shows the true colors of the Democrat Party - stay with us to gain power and we will give you more. Makes one wonder who Joe Lieberman and Zell Miller would support as a superdelegates if they hadn't willingly left the party.

I was initially astonished that Obama is now catering to them. He is asking his supporters to convince them to support his campaign. Obama realizes the corruption within his party can't be ignored if he wants to be on the ballot. But Howard Dean was also the candidate for change in 2004, adamantly supporting the idea of superdelegates. Can we assume that Obama will undo this undemocratic method?

The DFL is also turning against the caucus system in Minnesota. The caucus saves taxpayer money and allows for party members more control over their party. It also alleviates the heavy burden on independents and third parties to get on primary ballots. The Illinois Green Party has received several complaints about their state primary: voters were told that there was no Green Party ballot, or they were given a Democratic ballot on green paper, or they were told to vote on a touch-screen machine while other voters cast paper ballots. So again, the Democrats are turning their back on Grassroots Democracy to allow for more government control of the political process.

Greens, Independents, and like-minded Republicans and Democrats should fight for the caucus system in their state. In Minnesota, we have a presidential preference primary during the initial hours of the caucus and then start party business. If the DFL or other parties wanted to have the presidential vote all day, they could choose to do that. But they will need volunteers, not anyone employed by the state or the use of taxpayer money to assist them. Support Grassroots Democracy by insisting on a caucus and ending superdelegates.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Coulter endorses Clinton?

Okay, I was hanging out with my Mom last night and were having fun checking out videos on YouTube. I decided to actually check out the main page and scan for anything interesting. You can imagine our shock when we came upon an actual video of Ann Coulter endorsing Hillary Clinton! I guess McCain must be quite the polarizing candidate for the Republicans.

My mother is a die-hard Bush fanatic, while I am obviously an ardent Green. Yet we both like Barack Obama, and would prefer to see him President more than any other front-runners. We both watched the live video of the Minneapolis rally at the Target Center.

The truth is, Ann Coulter is right. Hillary Clinton is by far the closest candidate to Dubya. He even stole right from Clinton's speeches after 9-11 and prior to the Iraq War. Hillary was touting the link between Al Qaeda and Iraq more than Bush was! McCain is only going along with the surge to allow himself to be still called a Republican. He's a moderate who is moving the party to the center on many key issues. But the Clintons surpass McCain in their move to the far-right on issues of trade and the US military empire. Anyone that hasn't realized this hasn't done the research!

While I will not be attending a caucus in February, I still urge those who do to consider supporting Barack Obama (and Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer) in the DFL. I know my mother will, my friend Habtamu Ansha, and several others. Instead myself and dozens of others will be campaigning for Farheen Hakeem in House District 61B. ( I currently live in 61A )

Meanwhile, I ponder how awful a situation America could be in if we only have a choice of McCain or Clinton. And how Ann Coulter would be campaigning for the "liberals" she has for so long hated. Ironic, but it shows how far the Democrats are willing to move to win. Which is why the "electable" argument shouldn't always be the most important one.