The Political Page
(last worked on: August 4th, 2022)
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Fastfind: >> Democracy, {{Hugs}}, Socialism, Pointless voting, See "all" the candidates, Letter,
8/2/2022: Thanks for the ray of hope, Kansas (their election today).

6/2/2022: It's commonly understood that serious initiatives in United States politics are crippled by our "winner take all" election system (compounded by the Electoral College), where-as most other democracies have more proportional representation by way of a parliamentarian system --or more recently: "ranked choice voting" --as has recently gotten Australian labor and progressive candidates into office in Australia. More comments on RCV/IRV below. Right now, however (and through 2024), our literal survival depends on electing Democratic Party majorities.

4/18/2022: So --* Maybe the public --the electorate --has always been "this way", but it's "our" expectations or standards which have been upgraded, and the GOP is simply better at pandering to and turning out the hoi polloi, better at servicing billionaires and corporations  --?

* That (the above) and the impact/amplification of "social media" (through which everyone/thing in the news seems to be getting channeled.

* Although I've never signed up for Facebook, Twitter or the other services they own (at risk of "not sharing the passions of my times"), I'm getting plenty of Internet (and web/email) exposure. Access to the world's cross-linked news and knowledge is irresistible. Clearly, the inherent commercial/entrepenurial nature/purpose of the Internet is to lure one's attention, then constantly interrupt and distract it --to sell products, ideas and notions that we usually weren't looking for. Joseph Schumpeter coined the expression: "a grasshopper mind". We are all in training for that condition and I think it's interfering with whatever common sense we once trusted in the public to have and to work its way through.

* THAT --and "paywalls". It is absurd that, upon doing an across the vast Internet search, we're expected to subscribe to many of the journalistically reputable/qualified sources which turn up. So: we go to those alternative sources --right? --like Fox News. We need a billionaire philanthropist to pay everyone's fees for access to at least the Washington Post and the New York Times. (The Guardian lets everyone read, but shame, shame, shames us for doing so without a donation.)

2/4/2022: With reference to January 6th, 2021: "The Republican Party is so off the deep end now that they are describing an attempted coup and a deadly insurrection as political expression^. It is a scandal that historians will be aghast at, to think that a major political party would be denouncing Liz Cheney for standing up for the Constitution and not saying anything about Donald Trump's involvement in the insurrection." --Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Md.)
^ The RNC session's record reads: "legitimate political discourse".

12/02/2021: Thom Hartmann is on it, so is Brad Friedman and Ian Masters.

* Perhaps the Democrats would do best by "keeping it simple". Come up with a common platform that all candidates with a "D" by their names (allegedly) subscribe to, then we vote "straight ticket"  for all the "Ds", all through the ballot --no matter what^.

^ Right: the Democratic Party often seems pathetic. It has "turned its back on the working class" in favor of Wall Street and the "creative elites", implying an identification with a constituency of affluent winners in an alleged meritocracy. Thomas Frank ("Listen Liberal") and Prof. Wolff have that right. Never-the-less: massively voting for the "Ds" seems to be our only hope to avoid sliding into a fascist banana republic.

* However: so many offices on the ballot are marked "non-partisan". Candidates for those offices aren't listed with party affiliations --

* If I don't have a clue, then I don't vote --on that office or issue. Sometimes it's the whole dang ballot!

* As a past registered Democrat, I faulted the Democratic Party for there not being a list in my mailbox for each election.

** Repeat: At the least, every registered Democrat should get a list of Party preferred (if not "endorsed") choices for every election. (If the Party can't make the effort to have a position on a candidate or issue, then don't blame us non-voters for our non-feasance.)

10/09/2021: Meeting well the challenges of our times is Eric Boehiert --at:


Joe Biden (with stereographer Ernie Rairdin) in Cedar Rapids, IA - 2019
(Click to enlarge)

* Yes, I read Caitlin Johnstone's: "Stop Calling It A Stutter" article, but I say: "that's okay" --and no more Bananarepublicans --for any office.)

Bernie Sanders in Iowa City - 2015
(stereo pair by Ernie Rairdin, Click to enlarge)

See "all" the candidates, --who campaigned in Iowa. (As of 3/16, Ballotpedia told us that 1071 candidates had filed to run for president.)

Election Alternatives:

* 10/20/2020 update: Members of the Oregon Green and Progressive Parties are probably all desperately voting for Biden/Harris this election (as am I), but expressly wishing (in their Voters' Pamphlet statements) that the presence of "3rd Parties" could be politically felt via "IRV" (Instant Run-off Voting) or "RCV" (Ranked Choice Voting).

Actually: IRV and RCV are nearly the same in practice, problems and results, but there's a 3rd alternative (to our present system): "Approval Voting", by which the voter can vote for more than one candidate --each vote counting "1" (one). The current ballots (and "black boxes" --if we must) can be used and the arithmetic is simple.

* There's a higher priority, however, and one that seems to be in conflict with IRV/RCV: it's "HMPB" --Hand Marked Paper Ballots.  Given the failures, suspicions, scandals and Covid-19 contagion issues surrounding "black box voting", progressives are in good agreement that we badly need to expand what little HMPB we now have.

However, consider the purpose of HMPB: the ability to verify a close election via a hand recount. Now consider a table full of honest, citizen volunteers being confronted with --not the task of sorting votes for an office just one way or another (of "the two parties", plus a 3rd parties + write-in pile?) but: having to preserve the priorities of IRV or RCV ballots. Finally: consider the capacity of the public to understand the results --especially if the 3rd+ party vote is significant.

* I'm trying to think of other alternatives to how we run elections. What first comes to mind: holding actual run-off elections --say: for the top two (ie: the Republican and Democratic^) candidates --when the 3rd parties vote exceeds the difference between the top two (ie: nearly every time).

^ Yes: I can imagine Republicans becoming a hopeless "3rd Party" --after the Democratic and (say) the Progressive Parties.

(Yes: a parliamentary system of government would be great, but that seems to be quite out of our reach --short of Britania reclaiming her colonies.)

* As I keyboard in this (10/8/2020) update, it's being announced that President Trump and his First Lady have been diagnosed covid-19 positive. Given the nature of Trump's administration, there's a spread of speculations: it's a hoax to keep him out of any more disastrous (to Republicans) debates; it's a way to put Pence in office (the diagnosis being a hoax) --long enough to pardon everyone under investigation; they'll shortly announce an amazing recovery --crediting a controversial and very profitable medication; the President was deliberately infected because he's too dangerous for the $pecial interest$; and on and on.

* Yes: police agencies across the nation are unaccountable, often verging on mob mentality. But only an unthinking fringe (however loud) advocates for simply defunding and disbanding police departments. Obviously, that would lead directly to worse problems than we've got: widespread, armed gang warfare, vigilantism, and lynchings. Building a replacement system for public safety --one that works --is the direction we need to be taking.

* Most of the rest of this page was written earlier, but it tries to dwell on what's driving the current horrors: the process by which we choose political leadership and the directions our society takes.

Getting up to speed:

I list "Ring of Fire" on my Radio/PODcast page, even though they expect you to pay for a subscription in order to get the full show. I don't like my ending up being an embarrassed sales agent or a boot-legger to my friends and contacts --when I hear something vital from hosts Sam Seder and Mike Papantonio --which would be often. However, if you've been missing a lot of alternative (to the mainstream/corporate media) news and commentary over the years, their freely available Thanksgiving PODcast: "The Best of Ring of Fire", is worth your while. (You might even want to archive it, should such sources evaporate.) I also suggest this link and this link concerning the events of 911.

Toward a more informed electorate:

* Let's acknowledge, working it into our politics and our coping resources --that even straight-forward thoughts like those (on 12/12/2019) of Robert Reich, require a degree of intelligence, cultural/political knowledge and literacy --beyond that of a significant portion of the U.S. population.

* It's a struggle to present and deal with such obvious facts --without being accused of "elitism"/whatever.

For what it might help my presentation here, I test out at "only" average intelligence myself. (Perhaps that helps my perspective?) What's happening: the speed and complexity of our culture is accelerating, while the political base keeps expanding to include ever more of the exploitable and culturally challenged.

If you need another example, try The Daily Kos / "Kagro In the Morning" with David Waldman --for November 25th, 2019 --all of it. (Best take notes.)

"--literacy levels are judged against a sliding standard. The more literate the society becomes, the higher a standard of literacy is judged as functional. In
Sweden in the 17th century a person was judged as literate, and allowed to marry, if he could read bits of the catechism and sign the church registry. In the
United States at the time of World War II, when soldiers were screened for military service the army defined a minimal level of literacy as that normally
achieved in the fifth grade (about 10 years of age). By 1966 the criterion of functional literacy in the United States had been raised to completion of secondary
school by the Adult Education Act passed by Congress in that year. / Using this criterion, some writers have claimed that 25 percent of U.S. adults are
functionally illiterate."--David R. Olson, Professor of Applied Psychology, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto  --who followed that with acknowledgments of qualified dissents.

Is it fair that we should (literally --re: Covid-19) be left to live or die (in our increasingly technotronic, libertarian, bamboozled world) --as consequences of our own choices?

Of course not.

That's why we have the FDA, the FDIC, OSHA, NTSB, EPA and a host of other such agencies --who are supposed to be looking out for us, setting regulations and standards --instead of letting "the invisible hand of Adam Smith", the lethal "free market", and a Darwinian culling of the maskless --sort matters out.

* We need an explicit Constitutional right to vote^, but we also need some kind of agency to protect the franchise of "low information voters" --from exploitation --and from themselves.

* It could be that we need to be serving out much less information. As it is, we're expected to be abreast of thousands of issues and scandals, to not only vote for candidates on the basis of their performance and promises, but to petition, cajole and micromanage what the scoundrels do after they get into office.


^ A recent caller (I think it was to Thom Hartmann's show) questioned the oft quoted Rehnquist court decision that there's no right to vote in the Constitution.  She offered the first sentence of the 19th Amendment: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

I also offer the rest of that sentence.  There are two sexes --and this amendment doesn't specify which one is being referenced.  By any reading of the 19th Amendment, neither gender^ should be denied the vote because they are not the other gender.  Clearly: the 19th gives both genders the "right to vote".  As to the amendment's intent, I think it's obvious that the existing right of men to vote was at least assumed (even if unintentionally specified).

^ A call for clarity: "gender" is something one is.  "Sex" should refer to something one does/has --despite usage in the biological sciences.

* While a business/corporation can be sued, fined and admonished for advertisements which are plainly lies, a politician can tell us most anything. (The Washington Post has documented 10,000+ lies out of Trump.)

More clarity (from me): We can no longer afford to carry the "low information voter" --as matters stand. As they vote with growing enthusiasm and come out on top, the dire predictions of climate change, global plagues, wars for dwindling land and resources --will all come to pass.

Interestingly, we recently passed the 100th anniversary of a memorable H.L. Mencken pronouncement:

* Mencken nailed our condition, but I suppose that quote is too cynical about our prospects to get much traction. It takes the wind of hope out of me that Trump almost got a majority of the vote --and that 40% of the nation whole heartedly supports the guy.

* My point is not to depress you, nor to counsel that "progressives" give up. Over the past 3 billion years there've always been survivors. Those which survived had at least a gudenuf coping strategy. When we're once again on the uphill side of an extinction event, neither do I think we're doomed to repeat our history/prehistory. The "next time around" might well be a golden age for humanity (or some other sentient life form) --but first we have to get there --physically and culturally. Let's at least lay some ground work for getting us off our path toward an "idiocracy".

* I want to blurt out something else here --with a title like: "Beyond Democracy" --hmmnnn --if only I could do it some justice. (For now, there's something of my idea on the "Tomorrow" page.)

* Harkening back to the fist half of the 20th century, there was a greater trust in government, business, and "progress". Certainly not because it was justified by our rude "manifest destiny" or barely regulated states of commerce and labor exploitation, but it was felt --by a trusting and optimistic public, that "we" were basically all on the same team. There was a sense of coherency and benign (white majority culture) "Americanism". (Oh dear.)

That was a good feeling of extended community --however poorly informed, however blinded we/our grandparents were to the facts. The want of it is a significant factor that's driving the sordid "Trump Revolution".

* Do you really believe in "democracy"?

What if that solid 35-to-40% of Fox News followers who support Trump climbs up to (an honest) 50+ percent? What would be the "work around" for the rest of us? What would be our legacies --and who would we leave them to?

I like to simply assume that "human nature" (and perhaps all life) is hard wired for --at least the potential-- of stewardship and empathy --in a significant distribution of our offspring --and/or in their diversification into something better (myriad generations hence). After all, and despite our horrendous human history (that "red of beak and claw" driver of the evolution we've all come from), how else can we explain that concepts of "love" and "caring" survived at all?

* Might there be a "trigger" --a story, music and/or images --which would initiate an epiphany, a blossoming into true human adulthood (that last, "Maslow"-like stage of development)?

* I suspect that many things/outcomes/copings/adaptations --are stitched into our DNA; and that they await the right stimulus to get "expressed".

* Are there more (and social) consequences than (say) the primordial emergence of a rich land environment that grew us legs, and (say) flood waters that grew us gills? (Yes: the above implies "panspermia" --evolution/s elsewhere --and over a vastly longer period of time than we can now imagine --and which might afford us the abject humility of admitting that it's all quite beyond our understanding.) (A much needed humility.)


"Call your Congressperson!" "Show up for the big protest!" "Sign this petition!" --Do you ever get weary of campaigning for and voting in an office holder, then through the years of her/his tenure having to (perhaps in vain) hound and try to micro-manage your "representative" to do the right thing?

That's not the way it's supposed to work. Try this alternative:

1) There's a political party with a platform you can support. (If you're a go-getter, you helped build the platform.)

2) You vote a straight party ticket. (If you're a go-getter, you've helped campaign plus contributed as well.)

3) You go back to your work and recreations, knowing that your representative (if s/he gained office) will do the right thing. If you're a go-getter, then maybe you're a party official who's paid to follow events, give guidance, co-ordination and keep score.

In this political eutopia, it wouldn't enter your heart or head to cast a first choice vote for "the lesser of two evils".

Yes: we'd need a parliamentary system of government and something like "instant run-off voting" to actually make that work, but: resolutely voting for the party and ticket you believe in --would tend to make our existing system not work --until it changed --or until we turned one of the two current major parties --into a hopeless "3rd party".

With the careening Trump administration, we may have run out of chances to get it right --"this time around". I suppose we're headed for a grossly cynical and dystopian period of decline, punctuated at points with catastrophes. That, of course, makes our personal acts of comforting grace to one-another essential --at least as we can afford to practice such ministry. (See here and here for some {{hugs}} and strings of thoughts --on how one might meaningfully cope, should we be faced with a train of woeful events.)

You may have stayed home or voted 3rd party on election day (2016), rather than cast a vote for "Obama-2.0". (Trump, Pence and cabinet might actually amount to a jaundiced 3rd party --but I'm of course in reference to the Libertarian Party's Johnson and the Green Party's Stein.) There's Obama's (and Clinton's) support of nuclear power, our Iraq spawned and 9/11 false flag excused tar baby wars, the "Dark Act", nuclear weapons expansion/modernization --and expanded spying upon --well: everyone. (Puts the old East German Stasi to shame.)

Johnson was a non-starter: wanted to privatize/corporatize everything. With her selection of a purist left wing dingbat^ running mate, so was Stein.

^ Baraka did his best to alienate left wing/progressive support for the "imperialist" and "racist" Bernie Sanders. (Google it.) Then he signed on as Jill Stein's VP (Stein's first choice was Bernie --even to take her place at the top of the ticket, fergawdsakes) --as she attempted to inherit Bernie's mantel and gather his supporters --sheeese!

* Our nation was ready for long promised changes. Bernie, if not torpedoed by the DNC, could have caught the people's imagination and easily won an election against Trump. (Any generic Democrat, except Clinton, could have beaten Trump --and any generic Republican could have beaten Clinton.)

At least Hillary didn't end up proposing a "no fly zone" over Syria or going toe-to-toe with Putin.

** I'm ready for a new political party, the candidates of which --when voted in, will simply do right by us, the environment, and the values which we struggle to put into the platform --without our having to get up petitions and make feeble attempts to micro-manage how they conduct legislation. I want to vote a straight party ticket, know that I did the right thing, then get on with my family, work, service and recreational interests. (Is that too much to ask for?)

* Then there are those looming meta-problems --especially the ones we can't easily talk about, like:

    ~ Overpopulation (the industrial build-out for which is already at least 3x the Earth's sustainable level).

    ~ 9/11

   ~ Election fraud / "black box" voting  ** Why is it that nearly everyone avoids the obvious solution: hand marked paper ballots? No: not computer bar-code marked ballots. I mean 100% human readable, hand marked ballots, which can subsequently be recounted --human read and verified --should there be any questions about the optical scanner counts. Even in a sophisticated venue like Los Angeles, it's proven difficult to get this simple concept across to the election officials who decide what sorts of voting apparatus will be used. (Obviously, a hacked and compromised system might print out ballots on which the bar-codes and the English summary don't agree.)


(This photo thumb is linked to a full size posting and article.)
    ~ We can talk about the unfitness of The Donald, but not so much about the unfitness of the voting public who flocked (or were herded by the captured media) to his support. Can someone come up with a realistic solution to voter incompetence^?

^ I include myself in that category. There've been many elections in which I had no idea what were the personalities, campaign issues or qualifications for most of the local and regional candidates (judgeships, county officials and such). When that's the case, I disqualify myself from voting for those offices.

* Example: the Coos County special election of November 5th, 2019. Oregon votes by mail (nice), so our ballots also arrived by mail. There's only one contest this time: 8 candidates vying for 7 positions as "Transportation District Director" (yes: singular, but there must be 7 directorships). This is the first my wife and I have heard of these director positions and we've heard about none of the candidates --let alone their thoughts about whatever issues might be in play. There's no "voter's pamphlet" nor any candidate statements. I checked at our public library: no literature there either.

Our librarian had called the county elections office, learning that they decided to save the money and not print anything but the ballot. He suggested that I get on line and Google something up --but all I found was a short article from the on-line version of our local paper (costs over $800/year to subscribe). The only information in addition to the candidates' names was that they'd serve 4 year terms of office.

There's a county Democratic Party meeting coming up here next week^ (long mis-advertised as being held this week). Although these directorship candidates are listed without party affiliations, maybe the Demos have some ideas about who to vote for.

    ~ The popular "progressive" assumption is that our democracy (as we practice and know it) is only unsatisfactory in that we need to further expand the voting franchise. However: considering that, in order to drive a potentially lethal ton and a half of steel on wheels, we take a driver's license test, what we really need (in addition to hand marked paper ballots) is some kind of a civics/current events test in order to vote, lest we vote dangerous, ignoramus candidates into office.

* Caleb Crain wrote a good article dissecting the ins, outs, utility and notable thoughts about democracy, centering on Jason Brenan's (then) recent book: Against Democracy. Originally printed in The New Yorker (November 7th, 2016), it's now on-line under the title: "The Case Against Democracy".

Crain pointed out that western culture has been worrying about voter competence since Plato^.

* Here are more recent reviews --in the light/shadow of the Trump White House --by: Valerie Soon, Simone Chambers (the first two columns), and Andrea Rodes (very brief).

* 10/29/2020 update: I visited that meeting (giving them some viewers and stereo views) but I didn't see how to fit myself into their agenda. I've since re-registered as a member of the "Progressive Party" --mostly to make sure my signature is up to date (I made and kept a copy of it). A month ago (9/30/2020) I wrote to the Democratic Campaign HQ with the suggestion that "Non-partisan" candidates be profiled (say: a short bio) by the Democratic party, noting any party affiliations or supports, such that Demo voters can easily tell who the good guys are. I CC'd my Representative (Peter DeFazio) and our Secretary of State (Ms. Bev Clarno), asking what the legal problems might be in doing so. There've been no responses, so I'll try again --but after the election hullabaloos are behind us. (If Trump wins --guess I'll just hang it up and lay low here.) (Be my bet that DeFazio would retire to New Zealand.)

*  "Politics" is about political, as distinct from personal relationships --outvoting, manipulation and deals, as opposed to grace and empathy --strangers, as opposed to the empathy of friends and family.

Of course, all relationships are a blend of both, but those who are mentally healthy and socially motivated cultivate the latter over the former.

And the larger the arena, the more we get into politics --right?

* I should say something here about socialism. While I really enjoy listening to Professor Wolff, and it seems that the day is finally coming for social/socialist democrats --and while we're seeing and hearing from newly minted "eco-socialists" --they are "will providers" like most everyone else. Capitalists tell us that the invisible hand of Adam Smith will provide. Abrahamic religionists tell us that God will provide. The socialists tell us that the redistribution of wealth will provide. Meanwhile, we're making great progress toward tearing up nature, taking turns breathing and growing vegetables in our hair.

"Only when, in addition to just institutions, the increase of mankind shall be under the deliberate guidance of judicious foresight, can the conquests made from the powers of nature by the intellect and energy of scientific discoverers, become the common property of the species, and the means of improving and elevating the universal lot."
---J.S. Mill - from: Of the Stationary State - 1848

Hmmnnnn - - -

* Perhaps a rational, aware, socially motivated individual --should simply do her/his practical best to hold up one's end of our many "social contracts" (for the sake of personal integrity --and so as not to be part of the over-all problems). S/he'd "do right" (as might be possible), but otherwise feel guardedly, politely --nicely --remote from --well shoot: most everyone outside of family and simpatico friends --since:

Those people creatures "out there" in the larger world are dangerous --especially so when "reasoned" with. "They" amount to so many bears in the woods --individually and collectively. (Only half joking here --and am in reference to a recent study showing that the hammerheads tend to get more recalcitrant and hostile when presented with contrary facts.)

So: just try to be nice, get through life, --and try, try, try to come up with realistic projects to --well, I was going to say: "to fix the human condition", but that's not right. I prefer to think that our problems are not due to "human nature", but due to our departures from our true nature --from the archetype of communitarian humanity we (however unconsciously) aspire to become.

I'm not (currently) a Christian, but our (meant to be) destiny is spiritual --meaning to dwell in a deep sense of kept connectedness. This emergent butterfly version of ourselves will be, of course, a difficult transformation, considering our ugly history and our heritage in a competitive biology: "red of tooth and claw".

Do we amount to Nature --in trying to seek balance (and having grown tired of the old ways), creating its own antithesis? Or might we be trying to access a pre-programmed/destined climax state of being fully human?

We should look to the spiritual vision of our prophets --say: the likes of Teilhard de Chardin:

"There is an almost sensual longing for communion with others who have a larger vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendships between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality almost impossible to describe." (He knew.)

Then there's the astounding faith (in the destiny of all Earth's creatures) of Quaker artist Edward Hicks:

The Peaceable Kingdom

* I'm touched by pet owners, foster parents to wildlife orphans, care and comfort givers to the injured, by peacemakers to humans and animals.

* Late at night, safe and warm in bed with my wife and our dog Sammy, I think about the billions of creatures who huddle against the cold of night in their nests and burrows --awaiting the Sun's warmth and another day of struggle. There's no one to wake them from their nightmares. (That we care about human and animal life --defines us.)

* Isn't it extraordinary and hopeful --that, despite our horrible, war torn, genocidal history --ideals of Love, grace, community --and such notions as "The Peaceable Kingdom" survive? It can only be that we're hard wired for such caring and stewardship --that we're destined (or at least meant) for a far better existence.

* Perhaps this is true for all life forms --with whom we share so much of the same DNA/genetic material and biological processes.  (Presumably, all the creatures in Hicks' paintings are vegetarians --rolled oats, perhaps?  :-)

* It's striking that life is felt to be so precious, even by microscopic creatures. We struggle to live and scurry to evade predators. In extremis, trapped, hurt bad and doomed, we all cry out --instinctively asking for a hand of mercy, abjectly open to grace, hoping against hope that there might be some agency who will respond.

* Somewhere, sometime, some social life form will make the grade. I'm counting on panspermia to have placed many copies of life in many places.

** So: best I get back to burying our time capsules.