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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Defeating the purpose of winning

Selecting Hillary Clinton as the candidate for Vice President would defeat the purpose of winning. If the idea is to change the corporate culture and end the negative politics, she would be a huge step backward. On fair trade and health care she would be even worse than Obama if she ever ascended to the presidency.

Clinton was a big supporter of NAFTA as first lady. In the movie "Sicko" she is shown as a big collector of money from insurance companies. At least Obama had talked about single payer health care earlier in his career, so there is a chance he could bring it up after he gets in office. Clinton has demonstrated she will say or do almost anything to get elected, including fabricating stories about being under sniper fire, then blaming it on sleep deprivation, while asserting that she will be better able to answer a crisis phone call at 3 am.

In the delegate count, Obama is ahead, 1953 to 1770. Even if Clinton gets her way on Michigan and Florida, Obama is still ahead, 2020 to 1948, six votes shy of the 2026 needed to win.

In the 1992 primary season, I remember phoning and campaigning for Jerry Brown against Bill Clinton for President. I wanted to talk about Tyson chicken waste in the rivers of Arkansas, and I wanted to ask questions about drug-running and contra training out of Mena, Arkansas. I felt a lot of pressure to "not go negative" and "unify" the party. When the shoe was on the other foot, the Clinton juggernaut was relentless. Brown was allowed to speak at the convention, but he was virtually ignored by Clinton fans.

In 2008, there are other ways to reach out to Clinton voters than to put her on the ticket.

When Kucinich dropped out, Edwards was the closest thing Dems had to a Green. Now Obama is. Don’t squander what gains you’ve made by slipping back further toward corporatism.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wear your helmet!

With warmer weather, more people are riding bicycles and motorcycles. While these vehicles reduce our carbon footprint, they also make us more vulnerable. A helmet is the most significant factor that will help ensure you survive a motorcycle crash, reducing your risk by 37%.


Jesse Ventura said you can’t legislate stupidity. That may be true, but you can legislate against it, and we can all try to be safer and learn from our mistakes. I had three bicycle accidents last year. Number one, my front wheel got caught in a crack in the pavement. Number two, I rounded a corner too fast and landed on somebody’s lawn. Number three, I stood to pedal uphill and the gear slipped. On that last one I could feel my helmet hit the pavement. My bike and I are getting old. I biked to work today, 6 miles each way, but no guarantees. I take it day by day.

Your brain is your precious center of intellect, creativity, motion, emotion, and spirituality. Please protect it with a helmet.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Help the GP get their 5%

Right now I recommend that Greens stick to this talking point: "Help the GP get their 5%."

People seem to understand the GP is better on the issues. They even seem to understand the problem of corporate influence. They're just stuck on the spoiler argument. Talking about 5% is a way of nudging people toward an attainable goal. Dems and Greens can work together to make sure that the Republican candidate is behind by at least 5%. People should be able to keep an eye on the opinion polls and talk strategically with the pollsters to help the GP loosen the corporate party stranglehold.

If people mention Nader, just explain that while he’s great on the issues, helping Nader get 5% does nothing to help build an organized third-party movement to compete for local offices and future elections.

I also recommend that the GP budget for radio advertising year-round. While parades help for name recognition, they can’t impart enough information to convince people to join. At the other extreme are long intellectual articles, which are informative for policy wonks but convey too much information for the average person. Forwarding emails can make waves, but is no match for media. Listservs are great for brainstorming and organizing, but by themselves are nothing more than preaching to the choir. In Minnesota, a telephone tree can be credited for modest growth, but in my opinion should not be considered a substitute for a media presence which carefully considers the habits, culture, and expectations of the target audience.

Of course, there is no point in recruiting new people if you can’t keep track of them and follow up with them. The volunteer database should be simple and robust, with good response time and plenty of room for growth. The lists need to be accurate, current, and free of duplicates. New volunteers need to be welcomed, praised, and encouraged to work at their comfort level through positive reinforcement.

In all areas of the organization, party vigilance, oversight, checks and balances, and redundancy should be standard operating procedures. I’m not saying that the GPMN is thoroughly infiltrated. It just seems that way because it is unable to get off the ground. Of course, the corporate parties don’t make it easy, but given corporate party failures on Iraq, health care, the environment, and so much more, I am confident there is a chance for traction with the GP in 2008.

Strategic oil reserve

I have something nice to say about the Republicans. They are putting oil into the strategic petroleum reserve. This could be important later as prices rise due to diminishing supplies, perhaps lessening the impact. Whether the oil companies are gouging us is a separate issue. So is our wasteful rate of consumption. In theory, at least, saving oil for later seems to make sense.