Showing posts with label Presidential election. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Presidential election. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

36 States: 3rd Parties Polling Greater than Margin Between GOP and Dems

But...but.....a Third Party Vote is a wasted Vote! How many times have you heard that plaintive cry during the 2016 election season? Or the usual follow-ups: "A vote for Johnson (or Stein) is a vote for (Fill-in-the-Blank: Trump or Hillary!)"

It seems that every strong Clinton supporter, and every strong Trump supporter (or, perhaps more accurately, every Anti-Clinton Voter and every Anti-Trump Voter) has been working overtime in the mainstream media and on social media to convince people not to vote for a third party in 2016. "After all, they won't win...and that will only help Candidate X win," they say. They don't seem to understand that even if there were no third parties, I would not vote for either Clinton or Trump.

And to be honest, many of them try to give me constructive advice: "Please, this is a two-party nation, and only one of the two major party candidates can win. Why don't you work within one of the major parties to make effective change instead?," they plead.

Because history has shown that won't work.

There are only two factors that motivate party policy.

The first is money. And sorry, I don't have enough to influence either party in that respect.

The second is votes - and more important, winning elections.

When they win, they assume they touched on the right issues in the right way, and ran their ground games in an effective and successful way. If what you want is more of the exact same nonsense that both major parties have handed out, then by all means, vote for a major party. They will assume that their win means they did everything correctly, and you can expect more of the same in the years to come.

When they lose, they must admit that they did something wrong, and begin the process of looking at polls and votes and voter turnout rates to see where they lost ground.

Want to send a message to the major parties to make them seriously examine what they have done this election cycle? FORCE THEM TO RE-EVALUATE WHAT THEY'VE DONE.

It is a Media cliché at this point to speak of 'blue states' and 'red states' and 'battleground states.' But the number of states on the edge is far bigger than anyone could imagine this year.

This year, in 36 states, polls show that the combined support for Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Green exceeds the margin of difference between the Republicans and Democrats. These states represent 358 Electoral votes: far more than the 270 needed to win.

The table below indicates the margin of difference between Clinton and Trump, and the combined 3rd Party support, as published by the Washington Post 50-state poll on September 6:

*Maine and Nebraska assign their electoral votes by Congressional District, increasing the volatility of the election in these states.

And, to further drive home the point, here is a map (courtesy of Red states are runaway Trump, Blue states are runaway Clinton, and the Grey states represent those states where the 3rd Party support now exceeds the difference between them:

So there you have it.

Are the chances slim that a 3rd Party candidate will win the election outright? Yes.

Are the chances large that the 3rd Party vote might tip an election in some of these state one way or another? Yes.

Are the chances even larger that a party that loses a state - or even comes close to losing - will need to examine what they're doing wrong? ENORMOUS.

No, your vote for a Third Party is not a wasted vote; rather, it is the most significant way you have demanding change in the system.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Republicans - and Democrats - YOU are responsible for Trump

Both parties deserve blame for creating the rise of what amounts to a Fascist candidate for President.

For years, Republicans have promoted and courted – usually with a wink and a knowing glance – racial and xenophobic politics. Mean-spirited attacks on the poor, demanding drug-testing for those on financial assistance and efforts to cut food stamp benefits – have been laced with an effort to generate warfare against a tiny portion of the population, even while slavishly throwing trillions of dollars at industry and runaway military spending. The purposeful intention has been to create an “us-versus-them” philosophy, blaming the poor, immigrants, and every “easy target” as the enemy. Beginning with Nixon’s “southern strategy” in the late 1960s, the GOP has actively courted a base that sees enemies all around. “Family Values” has become a buzzword in campaign literature for blaming gays and single mothers for the nation’s ills. Memes designed to justify the Police State and marginalize minorities have been carefully constructed to tap the darkest feelings of fear in every working-class, blue-collar white man in America. YOU, Republicans, created this monster: by courting this phenomenon, you always believed you could rely on those votes, without ever thinking that the voting block you created would ever rise, pitchforks in hand, to turn against you. Well, my friends, the chickens are coming home to roost. Trump has seized on this fear, and launched a classic fascist campaign, blaming immigrants and the poor for the economic mess we are in, cheering physical confrontation at campaign rallies, and openly showing disdain for the First and Fourth Amendments. Your subtle – and not-so-subtle – history of using racial and ethnic warfare as a standard campaign tool has created a populace that is actually acting on their fears.

But Democrats, please do not think you have had no role in this. The GOP has courted these people, but you have enraged them. One only needs to peruse the facebook postings and newspaper Op Ed pages to see how your response has to take this group of the electorate and further marginalize them. Examples of elitist, nasty, and disdainful comments directed against southerners, poor whites, evangelicals, and those who have jumped on the Trump bandwagon are plenty. By viewing – and branding - this group of the electorate as stupid, uneducated yokels, and pick-up driving redneck gun-toters with small penises - you have done what the GOP could never do: you marginalized a group that already feels fear and marginalization, and added to their anger and feelings of isolation. You don’t win hearts and minds by telling people they are stupid. Rather than build bridges and show how your policies might actually benefit these people, you have chosen, in your words and actions, to treat them like sub-Americans.

In other words, the GOP has convinced these people that there are un-American enemies out there who want to destroy their ways of life. You have answered the call by confirming that you despise these people, and that you need to legislate against their wishes “for their own good.”

Sociologically, the two major parties have created a disaffected group of low-income and middle-income Americans who are reeling under economic pressures and feel alienated, taken advantage of, and ignored by government leaders. A powerless sub-class. And they have now found their voice in Trump.

Meanwhile, both parties ignore their fears and anger: Both parties have spent us into unending debt, both parties have propped up a corrupt Banking Regime, both parties have refused to fix a broken immigration system, and both parties have acted in the interests of Big Pharma, Monsanto, and crony capitalism. Even as I write, even the Democratic National Committee is moving to eviscerate the Financial Consumer Protection Agency.

The prospect of a Trump Presidency is scary. But more scary is the situation that both Democrats and Republicans have created by pandering for votes, by playing divide and conquer with racial and class politics.

The Trump phenomenon is the result of a classic failure of career politicians to lead. He is your creation.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

My Choice for President: Dr. Jill Stein (Green Party)

 For those who knew me in my younger days when I was a Republican, all I can say is this: today’s Republican Party is nothing like the GOP I grew up in.  It has been captured by religious extremists, by hateful leaders who train their supporters in academically dishonest sound bites, and by a scary collection of people who parrot an odd mix of mean-spiritedness, cluelessness, and hypocrisy.  Today’s Republican Party is no longer a serious contender for my vote. It is no surprise that they are frothing at the mouth at NJ Governor Chris Christie's post-disaster comments about the President, wouldn't give intellect John Huntsman the time of day, and eventually saw Maine Senator Olympia Snowe leave the party in frustration. End of Discussion.

But for those who know me, and who know I have a Libertarian streak a mile wide and a Liberal soul a mile deep… there might be some head-scratching as to why I can not support Gary Johnson (Libertarian), or, as the vast majority of my friends do, Barack Obama.  

No, I support Jill Stein.

There is no question that the 2012 election will be won by either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.  And, given my dismissal of the Republicans in the opening paragraph, one could honestly ask me,

 “Why, in a close election year, aren’t you supporting Obama?  Why would you waste your vote on a candidate who can not win, and possibly ‘throw’ the election to Romney?’

Valid questions, and I am prepared to supply what I believe is a valid answer.

Why aren’t you supporting Obama?

I can not support Barack Obama because I disagree with his actions on the issues that are the most important to me.

One ‘collection’ of issues I have been writing about for several years is the growth of the American Police State: the continued loss of civil liberties, the continued shredding of Constitutional protections against the unwarranted search and seizure of Americans’ private lives, and the new surveillance state.  And Obama, in an effort to show he can be as hawkish on security as the GOP, has made that growing police state even worse.  His renewal of the Patriot Act, his support and signing of the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA, and his reversal on the issue of closing the Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp belies a willingness to sacrifice liberty in the name of political capital. The coordination of his Department of Homeland Security with local police departments in an effort to suppress the Occupy Wall Street movement evidences a view on ‘security’ that is no different than the Republicans.

On  Environmental and Energy issues, the Republicans would have us believe that Obama has squelched domestic development of fossil fuels, thus hurting jobs and our economy. In response, the Obama administration and the Obama campaign have lost a golden opportunity: rather than embrace alternative energy in a real way, they point out that domestic drilling for oil and gas is at an all-time high.  The Obama campaign has taken painstaking steps to insure that all of their literature openly embraces the expanded use of domestic oil, gas, and even coal….in addition to clean energies.  We need to reverse this, not expand it. Fracking must be ended, not 'studied.'

On related issues, Obama has appointed a notoriously pro-genetically modified food Monsanto Executive to monitor our food supply at the FDA, and coordinated raids on small local farms selling raw milk to local customers. Large Agri-Business and the Chemical industry has gained under Obama, while the family farm has been in the bulls-eye.  Obama, as a supposed liberal, is a complete disappointment on environmental issues.

And then there are wars: wars in the Middle East, and the infamous War on Drugs.  This nation continues to fight an unwinnable war, with no defined goals, in Afghanistan – troops (including National Guard members) that could have been better-used at home during times of national disasters.  Suicides among troops now exceed combat deaths, and those who dare to blow the whistle on military operations – such as Bradley Manning - are imprisoned in conditions that have drawn the condemnation of the world.  

In the meantime, Obama has killed more people in one term of office – including innocent civilians – through drone strikes than George Bush did in two. There is NO excuse for this scorched-earth, innocents-be-damned policy.

As for the “War on Drugs,” the United States now has the largest incarcerated population in the world – more than states like China where rights are minimal.  This is due entirely to a federally-fueled, failed war on drugs. Obama has increased – not decreased – this war against those who commit victimless’ crimes.  This policy has devastated families, made young people ineligible for education loans, and has caused more death and suffering than any recent military operation. 

And yet, even while Americans are showing stronger and stronger support for the outright legalization of marijuana – Obama has systematically raided medical marijuana dispensaries in states where this has been legalized.  This is not the liberal President, or the ‘hope and change’ I had hoped for.

Where we *should* declare war is on the Bank Mobsters who destroyed our economy. On the issue of Bank Regulation – an issue that is at the top of the list for me – I must point out that Democrats, as a rule, have been as bad as Republicans.  The bailouts of Wall Street were not Republican schemes – they were bipartisan.  Democrat Chris Dodd in the Senate and Democrat Barney Frank in the House pushed for the bailouts – bailouts Obama supported.  Obama added insult to injury by *stacking* the United States government financial arms with executives from Goldman Sachs, thus solidifying an interest group that has been objectively shown to habitually make money through destruction.  What Romney did at Bain, Obama’s Federal Reserve and Treasury Appointments are doing from their Presidentially-guarded positions of authority.

And today, the Banks that were ‘too big to fail’ are now bigger than they were before the crisis – with no political stomach on Obama’s part to change it.

I’m sorry, but these are not the kind of positions that I can support. 

If a Republican had taken the positions Obama took, I wouldn't consider voting for them for a second.  There is no reason I should vote for Obama just because he has a “D” after his name.

But you’re wasting your vote!  Look, Obama is not perfect, but if everyone did what you are doing, we’d be throwing the election to Romney!

No, they would be joining me in demanding change.

Historically, Third Parties have had an under-appreciated role in the American politics.  It is not just through winning elections that change is secured.

The most important political changes in the last century: Anti-Trust legislation, Women’s right to vote, the right of unionization, the advent of the social security system, the end of the Vietnam War – did NOT happen because the major parties initiated them, or because people continued to vote for the ‘lesser of two evils.’

They happened because people voted for Third Parties. Third Parties have *always* been the engines that have catapulted important change to the forefront of political discourse.

These parties did not ‘win’ the elections – but they raised the issues in ways that were much louder and much more effective.  In each case, minor parties demanded these changes – and when the major parties saw their growing numbers, they finally found the political courage to adopt those positions.

Yes, I will vote for Jill Stein for President.  The Green Party has a platform that demands an end to military adventurism, the development of clean, renewable energy, the recognition of worker’s rights, the end of the Police Surveillance State, and a change in direction on the War on Drugs (including long-overdue legalized industrial hemp).

I take my vote seriously.  When I turned 18, I went to register to vote that very morning.  I have never missed an election since then.

The Green Party (or, in Massachusetts, the “Green-Rainbow Party") supports what I believe in.  It is precisely because I take my Right to vote seriously, that I will exercise that right by choosing Green and Honkala on Tuesday.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Obama vs Romney: Oct 1 Update

As of today, we're looking at a runaway slam-dunk for President Obama over Mitt Romney by an electoral vote of 348-190.

Romney's verbal gaffes and inability to connect with average Americans has seriously hurt any chances he had to pick off important swing states. In fact, it would be fair to say that the election is being lost by Romney more than it is being won by Obama: we expect many normally-Republican voters to just sit this one out in disgust. 

Ironically, it was Obama who feared a stay-at-home electorate earlier in the campaign, as progressive democrats grew increasingly disappointed by the President's military and environmental policies.  But Romney's penchant for embracing wealthy voters in overt and naïve ways - exacerbated by his wife's general cluelessness - has seen his poll numbers slide in almost every region of the nation.

In fact, President Obama is not polling appreciably better anywhere than he did last election, or than in the last few months; rather, Romney voters have begun to desert him and have decided to stay home, vote for a third party candidate, or remain undecided.

In key swing states -  Florida, Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, and North Carolina - Obama has clearly pulled ahead.  States viewed by some in the media as 'swing,' such as Colorado and Wisconsin, were never really in doubt at all and are solidly in the Blue column.

In this month's edition, we also move a few more electoral votes to the Democrats: Iowa, which we had felt confident would go red, is now blue again; and Nebraska - which divides its votes based on Congressional Districts - is likely to give one vote to Obama, in spite of the Republican's successful gerrymandering of Omaha during last years' redistricting.

And, we make note of three more states that are within the pollster's margins of error, but which should be reliably red: Georgia, Montana, and Arizona. We are keeping these in the Republican column for now, but if Romney continues to make these out-of-touch gaffes during the October debates, and if Obama finds a bit more mojo, the Republicans could be looking at losing even these previously safe red states.

I also am going to go out on a limb to make another prediction:  overall turnout will be low.  Many Americans remain unenthusiastic about both candidates. While some (including yours truly) will cast their vote for a third party candidate, many will stay home.  The election will be determined by degrees of disappointment, rather than degrees of enthusiasm.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Obama vs. Romney Electoral Map, August 1 Update

[This posted updated as of Sept 1 HERE. ]

As we enter the Nominating Convention season, I still see Obama defeating Romney by an electoral vote of 310 to 228.  The two places where I am contradicting most other "experts" are New Hampshire (where I see an arrogant freshman Republican domination of the state house pulling out all the stops to frustrate student, minority, and 'liberal' voting groups), and Arizona, where I see a backlash among minorities and independents against the antics of their state GOP.

 As for a state-by-state roundup of the 'swing states,' here is my analysis:

 ARIZONA: Once a red state, we see a backlash happening on several fronts: the zany antics of Sheriff Joe, efforts to define 'personhood' at ovulation, harping on the 'birther' issue, and harsh rhetoric about immigration should cause a perfect stew of resentment against Republicans by Hispanics, women, young people, and independents.  The Supreme Court's elimination of three clauses of Gov. Jan Brewer's pet anti-immigrant legislation will further energize progressives and immigrant-rights groups to win in Arizona. Americans describing themselves as Hispanic, Native American, Black, Asian, and Racially mixed have all increased by double-digit percentages in the last 10 years, a good sign for an interracial President.  We contradict the pollsters, and see this state swinging Blue now.

IOWA: Polls are mixed, and too close to call. Iowa is tough to gauge, and will be close: we now give the edge to the Democrats, as Republican infighting and "bad blood" between the Paul libertarians, Santorum Religious Zealots, and the Romney Establishment over stealing the Iowa caucuses have prevented the GOP from organizing a realistic state-wide campaign so far.  Blue.

FLORIDA: This should be Blue, but a massive effort by Republicans in the state to purge voting rolls of Democratic-leaning groups is almost certain to throw the electoral votes of Florida into court - again.  We give it to the GOP - again.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Though it went for Obama (narrowly) last time, this is a tight state.  An active Libertarian Party bid in NH that emphasizes peace and an end to the war on drugs will hurt Obama as much as Romney; and an increasingly organized Green Party effort will hurt Obama far more than Romney.  Given the already tight race in this state, and the brashness of a young, ascendant state GOP leadership in suppressing liberal votes, we now give it to Romney - though we doubt he will win it with a majority of votes.

NORTH CAROLINA: Democratic convention in Charlotte notwithstanding, there is some Triumphalism among the religious right over the recent vote to ban Marriage Equality in the NC Constitution.  This momentum may just carry them through the Fall. Red.

VIRGINIA: Normally a safe GOP state, especially on a state-wide basis, Virginia sided with Obama in the last election. Increasing numbers of middle-class blacks, and an in-migration of young liberals in the tidewater and Potomac regions suggest that Virginia will once again go Democratic.  Three of four recent polls suggest Obama is pulling ahead...and the only poll that disagrees is the chronically pro-Republican Rasmussen poll.  Count Virginia Blue.

As for the other "swing" states: We still give New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Ohio to Obama by comfortable margins (Ohio is not even close), and Indiana (won by Obama in 2008) to Romney. We do not believe that Obama is in danger of losing Wisconsin, in spite of an electorate tired of everybody and everything. 

(Map Courtesy of )

Friday, July 13, 2012

Green Party's Jill Stein chooses Cheri Honkala for VP

Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein announced at the Green Party National Convention this week that she has chosen Cheri Honkala, “the nation’s leading anti-poverty advocate,” as her Vice-Presidential running mate.

The Green Party expects to be on the ballot in 45 states this election, and, along with Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson,  could make the difference in key swing states such as New Mexico.  In 2000, Ralph Nader did well enough as the Green Party candidate to anger many Democrats who thought he took key votes from Al Gore, thus throwing the election to Bush.  The Green Party, with a thoroughly ‘pedigreed’ Progressive platform, may also take votes from Barack Obama, who has sought to placate liberals while keeping a Clintonesque centrist stance on many issues.

Stein and Honkala promise a “Green New Deal,” that like FDRs original New Deal, would create 25 million jobs, as well as downsize the military, restore civil liberties lost under the Patriot Act and NDAA, legalize marijuana, and guarantee college education for everyone.


Honkala is the national coordinator for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group led by poor and homeless people. She ran for sheriff in Philadelphia last year.
“Compelled by her own experience as a homeless, single mom, Honkala has spent nearly three decades working directly alongside the poor to build the movement to end poverty, and has organized tens of thousands of people to take action via marches, demonstrations and tent cities,” Stein’s campaign said in its announcement.

Honkala said, “It’s immoral that children are hungry and homeless in the richest country in the world. It’s time for the 99% to stand united to serve our collective human needs instead of selfish, corporate greed. The Green Party is the only one standing up to Wall Street, and Jill Stein’s Green New Deal is the best plan for saving this sinking ship. I’m honored to fight beside her.”

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Green Party Qualifies for Federal Election Matching Funds

As of yesterdays’ deadline, Dr. Jill Stein has become the first Green Party candidate in American history to have raised enough 'small level' donations, in enough states, to qualify for federal matching funds.
Federal election law provides matching funds to any Presidential candidate who raises $5,000 in campaign contributions from each of 20 states.  Only the first $250 per donor counts, so no single large donor is able to ‘buy’ the matching fund threshold. The Stein campaign reached the threshold in 21 states plus the District of Columbia, exceeding the requirements. The top ten states for donations (in order) are Massachusetts (her home state), New York, California, Washington, Illinois, Minnesota, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Texas, and Arizona.  Of these, Arizona may be the most significant, as the Greens have achieved ballot access in that state, and it is considered by many observers to be a swing state in this election. The Greens have also achieved ballot access in 22 states (although these are not exactly the same as the states where they reached matching fund thresholds), and are in the process of obtaining petition signatures to gain access in 18 others.

 The Green Party Convention will be held in Baltimore, Maryland from July 12-15 this year.  While the official platform will be adopted at that time, the current Green Party platform is a decided mix of Progressive economic and environmental policies, and the probably the strongest embrace of civil liberties of any party in recent memory.  The  Green Party Website enumerates "10 Key Values," including commitments to grassroots democracy, social justice and economic opportunity, ecological wisdom, non-violence, decentralization, community-based economics, gender equity, diversity, personal and global responsibility, and a focus on the future and sustainability.  Green Party members have been active in criticizing the bank bailouts and have been active in the Occupy movement.

Dr. Jill Stein, the presumed standard-bearer for the 2012 elections, issued the following statement in reaction to the Party’s meeting the matching fund goal:

"It's been an incredible week.

Just seven days ago when our campaign began an intensive push to qualify for federal matching funds, we were only half way to the threshold.  We had reached the required $5000 donation level in only 10 of the 20 states we needed.  Today, thanks to an outpouring of support from across the nation,  we have qualified in 22 states, two more than the FEC requires.

We are now in the process of submitting a qualifying package to the FEC that will include the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Just two days ago, it looked like Connecticut,  Arizona, and the District of Columbia might not make it. But you decided that failure was not an option.  And you made it happen. I'm extremely grateful to the army of volunteers who stepped up to the plate and made phone calls and sent emails asking their friends to donate to our campaign.  They did this because they believed in what we stand for. And because this campaign belongs to us all.

I'm especially grateful for the support we received from the peace community, from Medicare for All advocates, and the drug policy reform community. They made it clear that they needed a voice in the 2012 presidential race, and that we were the only ones who could provide it.

Our achievement is another sign that the spirit of democracy and justice is alive and well in America. It is rising up in the continuing fight for health care as a human right, in student strikes for affordable higher education and the forgiving of college debt, in eviction blockades, Occupy Movement, and the fight of workers for jobs and living wages and the right to form unions, and in growing mass civil disobedience to protect our imperiled climate future. Now, thanks to your support, democracy and justice now have a voice in this presidential election as well, and we are proud to be that voice.

The surge of support in the matching funds campaign arose despite the constant diet of Obama/Romney that the corporate media is feeding the American people.  People are hungry for alternatives - they want to hear about the solutions that are being kept off the table by the establishment parties - they want real debates, not stage-managed squabbles between two defenders of war and Wall Street. They want the truth.

We are the party of no more bailouts. We are the party of a Green New Deal to create 25 million jobs that jumpstart the Green economy and make wars for oil obsolete and saves the climate. We are the party of health care the right of every American through .  We are the party of taking action to save the climate of this planet.  We are the party that save the taxpayers from the burden of the bloated, unaffordable Pentagon budget and end the use of drone aircraft for assassinations. We are the party that will solve the student debt problem and fully fund the education of our children.  We are the party that stands for sane, scientific drug policies and rebuilding our communities that have been devastated by crime and foreclosures.

Every vote for the Green Party ticket is a vote for a new direction for America. It is a vote for a Green New Deal in which solving the problems of people will be a higher priority than propping up Wall Street banks and rewarding hedge fund operators.

I want to express my sincere gratitude to all those who donated during to our campaign, who got on the phone and called their friends, who sent out emails, who posted appeals online, or who helped in any way. You are what democracy looks like. I want to thank our hard working campaign staff for whom this campaign is more than a job. With your support, we are going to change politics in America.

We're especially proud to that one of the states in which we qualified is the District of Columbia - one of America's last colonies. The United States is the only purportedly democratic nation in the world that denies voting representation in the national legislature to the citizens of its capital city. The Green Party is committed to righting that wrong. We are deeply grateful for support that our campaign has received from the voters in the District - and we will stand up for you.

Our first major goal in this campaign was to win the Green Party nomination. We appear to have done that by winning 29 state primaries and securing well over half the delegates to the nominating convention. Our second goal was to qualify for federal matching funds. Today, we have done that. We now focus our resources on completing our ballot drive efforts across America, working to win the support of people outside of the Green Party to our common cause. Our goal is to be on the ballot for more than 90% of the voters in America. Clearly, many more challenges must be met. And with your help, we will meet them.

So today we celebrate a victory. And every voter who joins us in calling for a new direction in America is a victory. Let's keep standing up for people, peace and the planet.

Thank you.

~ Jill Stein, M.D."

The Stein campaign website, which is separate from the official Green Party website,  can be found here:


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Obama vs. Romney Electoral Map, July 1 Update

NOTE: This post was updated on Sept 1 HERE.

We have been updating our prediction on the first of each month, and this month.....NOTHING changes.  We still see Obama being re-elected by an electoral vote of 304-234.  We see no changes in any states this month, as Obama's victory on health care and increased Latino organizing appear to be counterbalancing the generally poor economy.

Here's the map, with some analysis of swing states below:

ARIZONA: Once a red state, we see a backlash happening on several fronts: the zany antics of Sheriff Joe, efforts to define 'personhood' at ovulation, harping on the 'birther' issue, and harsh rhetoric about immigration should cause a perfect stew of resentment against Republicans by Hispanics, women, young people, and independents.  The elimination of three clauses of Gov. Jan Brewer's pet anti-immigrant legislation will further energize progressives and immigrant-rights groups to win in Arizona. We see this state swinging Blue now.

IOWA: Polls are mixed, and too close to call. Iowa is tough to gauge, and will be close: we give the edge to the organizing capabilities of the religious right combined with the pro-Romney Des Moines GOP machine. Red.

FLORIDA: This should be Blue, but a massive effort by Republicans in the state to purge voting rolls of Democratic-leaning groups is almost certain to throw the electoral votes of Florida into court - again.  We give it to the GOP - again.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: Though it went for Obama (narrowly) last time, this is a tight state.  An active Libertarian Party bid in NH that emphasizes peace and an end to the war on drugs will hurt Obama as much as Romney; and an increasingly organized Green Party effort will hurt Obama far more than Romney.  Given the already tight race in this state, we now give it to Romney - though we doubt he will win it with a majority of votes.

NORTH CAROLINA: Democratic convention in Charlotte notwithstanding, there is some Triumphalism among the religious right over the recent vote to ban Marriage Equality in the NC Constitution.  This momentum may just carry them through the Fall.

As for the other "swing" states: We still give Virginia, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Ohio to Obama, and Indiana (won by Obama in 2008) to Romney. We do not believe that Obama is in danger of losing Wisconsin, but next month's recall election may tell us more about political organization and voter sentiment.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Republican Race: Watch George E. Pataki

In the Republican Presidential race, those who place bets on such things have given Mitt Romney the edge from the beginning. Romney has not given them much reason to be confident: his continual (and silly) lurching to the right on every imaginable issue to appeal to the party base, coupled with a constant stream of verbal gaffes and inability to ‘connect’ with voters, has resulted in a performance that can be described, at best, as lackluster. Even when he wins, polls show that those who vote for him do so out of a sense of inevitability and without much enthusiasm.

In spite of his narrow win in his home state of Michigan, he actually split the delegates from that state on an even 50-50 basis with Rick Santorum. Next week’s “Super Tuesday” will see Romney losses in southern and western states…with more southern states (Alabama and Mississippi) lined up for votes on March 13.

The prospects of a brokered convention – and the possibility of the Republicans choosing a yet-unnamed candidate – is growing by the minute.

So, let me be the first to say it:

Watch George E. Pataki.

Pataki may have been flying under the electoral radar all season, but he has been a very busy man.

On February 13, Pataki issued the following statement:

“The Obama administration continues to govern in its own Bizarro World that fails to recognize the devastating impact of the debt crisis we face. Today’s election year budget with another staggering trillion dollar plus deficit is a clear sign that the Obama administration has given up on even the facade of fiscal restraint and is content to bankrupt America in a cynical bid to save his political career. Jack Lew is right about one thing, the time for austerity is not today, it was last week and last year. It’s not halftime in the debt crisis; we’re in sudden death overtime and the clock is ticking down on our ability to effectively address this issue. President Obama must get real and revive the recommendations of the Simpson Bowles Commission.”

While slamming President Obama in the national debt on one hand, he has operated as the quintessential New York establishment Republican on the other hand: he has managed to take an anti-public employees union position (to the cheers of conservatives), while allying himself with a liberal Democrat (New York’s popular Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo). On Sunday, Pataki told the NY Daily News that the New York State public employees pension system needs to be changed:

“In this case, I think it’s clear the governor’s efforts to reform the pension system are correct and necessary. What we’ve seen is just an enormous increase in the contributions required by government employers.” The result, he said, is “continued spiraling upward [of property taxes] that is not sustainable. It’s wrong and I would hope the reform movement will succeed and will succeed this year."

Anti-Government Spending. Anti-Taxes. Anti-Public Employee Unions.

All while supporting a popular Democratic Governor.

These are not the positions of a casual commentator. These are the positions staked out by a shrewd politician.

The challenge for any Republican candidate for President is to hold on the conservative GOP base, while attracting moderate independents, and maybe even gathering some liberal support. This is standard politics for Pataki, who managed to govern one of the most reliably Democratic states in the country – New York – for twelve consecutive years (1995-2006).

For red-meat conservatives, Pataki offers solid credentials on some specific issues: Having been trusted to introduce George W. Bush at the Republican Nominating Convention, he was then appointed by Bush as a United States delegate to the 2007 United Nations General Assembly session, a post that required (and received) the approval of the U. S. Senate. In that post, Pataki focused on terrorism. He continues to serve on the Board of Directors of the American Security Council Foundation, a neo-conservative, pro-military-industrial complex “Peace Through Strength” advocacy group. The Foundation’s positions are entirely consistent with the saber-rattling words uttered by Gingrich, Romney and Santorum throughout the primary season.

But in contrast to Romney, whose Massachusetts health care plan (“Romneycare”) was the precursor and model for the federal “Obamacare,” Pataki has strongly (and credibly) opposed the Obama plan, much to the delight of the conservative Republican base: Two years ago (April 2010) Pataki announced that he was creating a nonprofit organization, “Revere America,” to push for the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which he called "horrific" and a “costly bungle.”

Like a good New York statesman, though, Pataki has been careful not to lurch to the right on every issue, thus preventing him from being pigeonholed as a fringe conservative. After serving as Governor, Pataki joined Chadbourne & Parke, a law firm that emphasizes its renewable energy practice. He then formed the “Pataki-Cahill Group,” an environmental consulting firm, and worked with the Council on Foreign Relations on climate change issues.

Probably the most important environmental initiative in the northeast – the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or “ RGGI” – was the brainchild of George Pataki, and a project he implemented while Governor.

The RGGI uses market-based mechanisms to make dirty power plants pay for their pollution and clean up their act while simultaneously investing their payments in clean energy. The concept of the program is simple: Put a limit on power plant pollution, make polluters pay for the global warming emissions that they spew into the air, and reinvest that money in clean energy construction projects. These projects create jobs, reduce U.S. addiction to foreign crude oil, and reduce pollution. It is largely regarded as a win-win for the economy and the environment. It was promoted by both Republicans and Democrats from 10 states stretching from Maine to Maryland. And it was spearheaded by Pataki.

Anti-Tax, Anti-Spending, Anti-Debt, Anti-Obamacare, Pro-Military.

Pro-Environment, Pro-bipartisan, with Foreign Affairs (UN) experience.

Fiscal Conservative, Social Moderate.

Did I mention that at age 67, it’s now or never for Pataki? And that he has a Political Action Committee?

You read it here first: Watch for a Republican Convention without a conclusive nominee. And watch for George E. Pataki.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Masks, GLBT rights, & GOP Presidential Politics

This month saw the 25th Year Anniversary performance in London of the Phantom of the Opera - the highest-grossing entertainment event of all time, the most financially successful theatrical show in history, and the longest running show on Broadway. Around the world, the show is easily identified - even by those who have never seen it - by the trademark Phantom’s Mask

Masks have always intrigued me. Fascinated, terrified, and intrigued me.

As a child, clowns scared me. They still do. There is something evil and scary about clown make-up to me; it is a very obvious statement that what you “see” before you is not what is “really” underneath. Something is being prettified, or changed, or hidden; something awful is being presented as if it’s funny and joyful. I don’t like them.

I was drawn into the 1998 film, “The Man in the Iron Mask,” which itself was based on the Alexandre Dumas novel of an actual man imprisoned in the Bastille. In the movie, it is proposed that the prisoner was the twin brother of King Louis XIV - but he was kept hidden from view behind locked prison doors, his face encased in a locked iron mask so no one would recognize him as an heir to the throne. Had his true self been revealed, it would upset the established social and political order, and so the King insisted that no one be permitted to see him.

As a gay man living a closeted existence for several decades, I could identify with that.

Just as I can identify with the Phantom.

Of course, in the Phantom’s case, no one forces him to wear his mask. Rather, it is his fear of rejection, and the public's revulsion at his "differentness," his disfigured face, that causes him to hide. He voluntarily wears the mask to obscure his true identity, and lives in the shadows of the Opera House’s basement. There he can continue his life's musical work without fear of rejection. I can identify with the Phantom even more than with the Man in the Iron Mask.

I recall a heated discussion I had six years ago about the Phantom. I was admittedly sympathetic to him, understanding his perspective. The woman with whom I was speaking was outraged. “He is a monster! He’s a liar! He manipulates and uses people! How can you defend him?!” I suspected that she was seeing this from her very personal perspective, just as I was seeing from mine.

Which brings me to the main point of this blog post: the scrambling by Republican presidential candidates to shove masks back on our faces.

Here in New Hampshire, we go through the every-four-year sideshow of Presidential-wannabes traipsing through the state seeking a First-in-The-Nation Primary win. And as Primary day gets closer, each candidate tries to outflank the next in securing votes. This week, they tried to outdo each other on the issue of Marriage [In]Equality.

In August, Rick Perry had signed a pledge to support a Constitutional Amendment banning Marriage Equality nation-wide. This past Friday, at a dinner hosted by the extreme right-wing “Cornerstone Action,” Perry shored up his credentials, adding,

"As conservatives…We believe in the sanctity of traditional marriage, and I applaud those legislators in New Hampshire who are working to defend marriage as an institution between one man and one woman, realizing that children need to be raised in a loving home by a mother and a father."

Perry was referring to the current effort by the NH House to repeal the 2009 NH Marriage Equality bill.

Mitt Romney, despite pledging his personal support as an advocate of GLBT rights to the Log Cabin Republicans in 1994, turned around and signed the pledge calling for a federal amendment defining marriage as one-man and one-woman. Rick Santorum has stated that there is “no right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution” (50 years of Court decisions say otherwise), and called gay rights to the equivalent of another 9-11 terrorist attack in the Morning Call. This actually sounds like a remix of Michelle Bachmann’s letter in which she declared that legislators who oppose a federal Marriage Amendment to be like “soldiers who missed the Pearl Harbor warning signs.”

Speaking (or should I say ”pandering?”) to the Christian Broadcasting Network, Last week possible front-runner Herman Cain said,

“I think marriage should be protected at the federal level also…I used to believe that it could be just handled by the states but there’s a movement going on to basically take the teeth out of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and that could cause an unraveling, so we do need some protection at the federal level because of that and so yes I would support legislation that would say that it’s between a man and a woman.”

Make no mistake: Theocratic political action groups such as the National Organization for Marriage and Cornerstone Action are scrambling to find ways to lock iron masks on gay men and women, lest the world see us for who we are: neighbors, teachers, firefighters, sons, daughters, architects, sports figures, secretaries, construction workers, accountants, warehousemen, drivers, and nurses.

If we can’t be seen, or acknoweldged, or recognized, they hope, we will be forgotten, as if locked in the Bastille.

As they attempt to re-introduce a climate of fear and loathing, they work on our psyche much as the crowds worked on the Phantom’s psyche: by convincing him that he was ugly, that he was different, that he would be attacked by ‘normal’ people...and just as he chose to live his life behind a mask so no one could see, so, still, do many gay and lesbian citizens.

After all, NH Rep. Ralph Boehm, the vice chairman of the House Education Committee, tried to gut the states new anti-bullying law, saying that

"Students need to be prepared for life...bullying is part of it.”

You see? We should hide...because otherwise we will be attacked. It's just "part of life."

But living behind a mask has repercussions worse than these theocrats understand.

In a 2008 poll of 260 openly gay men in New England, fully one half stated they used to me married to a woman…which, of course, ended in divorce.

They did not ‘change’ their orientation half-way through their lives. Rather, they tried to live behind a mask, where no one could see their ‘real face,’ or their ‘differences,’ and hope it would work.

It doesn’t.

And for those who claim to be on the side of “marriage,” they do themselves – and society – no favor by forcing men to live in ways they can’t.

Harvey Milk pleaded with us to drop the masks:

“…Gay brothers and sisters,... You must come out. Come out... to your parents... I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives... come out to your friends... if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors... to your fellow workers... to the people who work where you eat and shop... come out only to the people you know, and who know you… But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters who are becoming scared by the votes from Dade to Eugene…”

No More Closets…No More Bastille Prison Doors…No More Iron Masks…No More Phantoms.

And no more two-faced, pandering, ignorant hateful Republicans as President, thank you.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Meet "Buddy" Roemer (who?), Presidential Candidate

Charles “Buddy” Roemer, the sincerest Presidential candidate you’ve never heard of, swung through New Hampshire today, making a planned stop in my Macroeconomics class at Keene State College. A native of Louisiana and educated at Harvard, Roemer is an interesting study in contrasts: He was elected to four terms in the House of Representatives and then as the Governor of Louisiana as a Democrat; but in 1991, he became a Republican. He was defeated in his bid for re-election when Jack Kent, the owner of Marine Shale (which had been cited for serious polluting) spent $500,000 of his own money to defeat Roemer in the primary; Roemer came in third. Though Roemer did not mention this incident, it surely colored – or at least informed – his strong condemnation of Big Money in American politics. He is one of the few Republicans calling for spending limitations and campaign finance reform.

He is running for President, but refuses corporate contributions and thus far has been shut out of all the televised debates. At times, listening to him was similar to listening to your grandfather meticulously spin out stories and advice as you politely sit in your seat at the table; other times he was darn near Harry Trumanesque in his condemnation of the special interests and politicians who manipulate the economy. As he weaved together his folksy lecture to approximately 40 students, he occasionally reverted to a thick Louisianan accent as he spoke in colorful metaphors more reminiscent of a Baptist preacher than a politician; he compared current efforts at campaign finance reform to merely “trimming a tree” of some scraggly leaves, when was needed was an axe at the roots.

I have to admit that, in spite of my being a political junkie, I was largely unaware of Roemer’s bid for the Presidency. He has spent the last several years as the President and CEO of Business First Bank, a bank which he proudly notes is profitable, focused on entrepreneurship and new business start-ups, and which “…has never taken a cent in bailouts from the federal government.” And he made his disgust with Clinton's deregulation of the financial industry very clear.

Roemer opened by encouraging students to adopt his “Four Fs” of success (Fast, Focused, Flexible, and Friendly) in order to succeed in the global economy. Then he then launched into more political and economic themes.

Roemer is no fan of Free Trade; in fact, one of the few times when he appeared angry was in referring to Congressmen who use that term. A frequent world traveler, Roemer told of the 62 days he spent in China, where he witnessed 6-day work weeks of 12-hour work days. At one plant that manufactured fire trucks in Chichin City, he recalled how one working mother had three children tethered on ropes to her waist so she could watch them while she worked. Roemer believes in strong government action in the marketplace to change these conditions around the world, and his support for tariffs punctuated his talk in numerous places. (At one point, he specifically called for a tariff of $10 to $40/barrel on all imported oil in an effort to wean our reliance on foreign oil. After he left the class, several students quickly noted that the immediate result of such an action would not only be higher prices at the pumps for Americans, but it would also permit domestic oil companies to raise their prices to match the tarriffed oil, thus providing a profit windfall for American Oil companies)

As an economist, I wish he could have addressed the Chinese Government’s manipulation of their currency’s value, which is the prime reason for our imbalance of trade with China and which, if corrected, could result in significant new purchases of American goods by the Chinese.

But Roemer’s most strident criticisms came for the special interests and politicians who allow big money to dictate policy in Washington. He called for an end to “Super-PACs,” limitations on the amount of money that PACs and individuals could contribute, prohibitions on permitting lobbyists to raise funds for candidates, and criminal – not civil –penalties for violations.

Echoing a sentiment I have made many times in the classroom, Roemer admitted that most lobbyists “are not bad people…I’ve worked – and argued – with many of them.” But he does recognize that even good people act in their self-interest, with the result that money dictates too much of what happens in elections – and in government.

I appreciated his passion for entrepreneurship. One of my students stated that she was moved by his passion and love of America. His international travel, and his comfort in being neither “too much” of a Republican or “too much” of a Democrat is a refreshing strength in a hyper-polarized society. But while appreciating his concern for the loss of American manufacturing, I think its too late – and too risky – to recklessly slap tariffs on products. One may think that blacksmiths and horses and Underwood typewriters are nostalgic and wonderful, but the fact is, cars and computers are here and aren’t going away. The same is true of much of our manufacturing base. It is a new era.

In his opening statements, he counseled the students that a good business person is “flexible.” Roemer himself showed this in his bank by putting all loan applications online and refusing to open up branch offices; he might want to apply some of that same innovative, flexible thinking to our current unemployment rate, and simply accept the transfer of much of our industry to India and China as a fait accompli. The trick is how to grow new industries at home, not how to bring back what we've lost.

All in all, it was a pleasant visit by a man who his passionate about his country, its economy, and its political system … and, primarily, the problem of money and lawmaking. And that is always good for young people to witness.

One question I would have loved to ask but didnt have the time for: given his disgust with the deregulation of the financial industry, and his recognition of the role that special interests play in politics, I wonder where he stands on the Occupy Wall Street Protest?