Saturday, January 19, 2008


Why Obama? Why Clinton?

I am a fan of John Edwards. I thought in 2004 that the Democrats would have done better to have had Edwards rather than Kerry at the head of the ticket. He was a better campaigner than Kerry and he had the correct answer to the question, "If you had known then what you know now, would you have voted in favor of the war resolution?" As you may recall, Kerry's answer to that question was "Yes." Edwards' answer was "No." As one who believes that Edwards would have beaten Bush in the election of 2004, I find it incomprehensible that he is not leading in the polls among Democrats. Instead, Democrats this year favor either a woman (Mrs. Clinton) or an African-American (Mr. Obama). Apparently the thinking is that any Democrat can win and the Party doesn't need the special qualities and talents of Mr. Edwards.

Why? In spite of what Ward Connerly thinks, we have a lot of racial prejudice to overcome or at least to live down. We have a lot of prejudice against women in high political office to get rid of. The average woman or African-American who has experienced prejudice and discrimination and still feels that he or she is experiencing it today looks at the possibility of a woman or an African-American as President as a powerful incentive for those individuals who make hiring decisions to see such a President as proof that his or her subconscious feelings that blacks or women should not be put in important jobs are not justified. It is this hidden, subconscious prejudice that still stands in the way of women or blacks receiving promotions that white men take for granted.

Hence, one can argue that electing a black President will do more than all the antidiscriminati0n legislation and all the affirmative action to get rid of this hidden, subconscious prejudice. The same applies to electing a woman to get rid of subconscious prejudice against women.

So, what is more important? Is it more important that the next President appoint "liberal" judges to the federal courts to restore some sort of balance to our system of justice or that the next President serve as an example of the wrongness of subcouscious prejudice? If you are a woman or a black man in a job situation where white men are routinely promoted and you are left behind, you probably value a promotion more than a liberal federal judicial appointment.

I will still vote for John Edwards. I want single-payer universal health coverage and liberal judicial appointments. I am retired and don't have to worry about whether I am going to be promoted next year. However, I suspect that the Democratic nominee will turn out to be either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton.

I won't even make a wild guess as to whom the Republicans will nominate.

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Ward Connerly's Solution

Comic strips in the daily newspapers sometimes unwittingly pose comments on political developments. An example struck me today. On the front page of the Los Angeles Times is a story about Ward Connerly's crusade to eliminate all forms of affirmative action by States. An initiative to this end was enacted a few years ago here in California. This year initiatives to ban any action by governments to remedy past discrimination based on race will be on the ballot in several States. Opponents of these measures concede that defeating them will be difficult or impossible.

At the same time, in the Comics section of the newspapter, the character Danae in the strip Non Sequitur, has found her own way of dealing with problems. He solution is to surround herself with a "Shut Up Zone." With this zone in effect she no longer has to be concerned about her father criticizing her for a bad report card, for not cleaning up her room, etc. The problems simply go away if people are not allowed to talk about them.

Ward Connerly believes that the problems of racial prejudice and discrimination will simply disappear if we stop talking about doing something to remedy them. His initiatives would prevent governments from gathering data relating to current practices of racial prejudice and discrimination. There would be no available information; therefore, nothing to talk about. We must simply shut up.

The American Public does not know how pervasive past measures that discriminated against blacks were. For example, when Social Security was enacted in 1936 Southern members of Congress insisted that the plan should not include agricultural workers. In the South, most negroes were agricultural workers and they had to be kept in their place.

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Friday, January 11, 2008


Manzanar, Guantanamo, and all that

We Americans cherish the values of individual freedom and justice. We believe that even a person accused of a heinous crime is entitled to a day in court and should not be considered guilty until a jury has rendered its verdict. We say we believe in simple, honest justice and not vengeance. A guilty murderer should be executed as punishment for his crime and to serve as an example to deter others from committing murder. The punishment should not be determined simply by the relatives and friends of the victim.

These values apply in our decisions and attitudes regarding war and peace. We dropped the atomic bomb on Japan because we believed that it would bring the war to an immediate end and save lives, particularly American lives. We did not drop it in revenge for the underhanded sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 - or did we? We rounded up and interned thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry because we feared they might be loyal to Japan, not because we were angry and outraged at the Pearl Harbor attack - or did we?

The destruction of the World Trade Center towers in New York and the damage to the Pentagon building in Arlington shocked, frightened, and angered us. Naturally, we sent a military force to Afghanistan to capture the terrorists who had planned and carried out the attacks. Combatants captured in the fighting were dragged away from Afghanistan and locked up in stockades in the naval base at Guantanamo, Cuba. We put them away to prevent them from continuing to fight and harm us, not to avenge the attack of September 11, 2001 - or did we?

I think that vengeance instead of a desire for justice too often influences our decisions. We execute murderers for vengeance - an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, etc. - rather than justice. There is also snobbery in our motives. A wealthy man who murders his wife is less apt to face a death sentence than a poor man. We are revenge-seeking snobs. We scorn the poor man. Aren't people poor because they choose to be poor? Isn't there opportunity for any person in this country to become rich if he or she chooses? If the person doesn't take advantage of the opportunity offered to every American, are we not justified in regarding him with a little contempt?

Fortunately, we are not all like that. We are not all seeking vengeance. At least some of us do not scorn the poor for being poor. There is still hope.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Favorable Action for Wrong Reason

More than once in my life I have observed a favorable result to a process which was achieved for a reason that had no direct relation to the substance of the process or the result. A recent example was the extinction, for the time being, of the Republican attempt to change the California law regarding the selection of Presidential electors. The present law requires that all electors are chosen to favor the candidate who obtains a majority of the popular vote in the State. A few States apportion their electors among the various candidates roughly according to the number of votes each candidate gets. Most States are like California; the winning candidate gets all the electoral votes from the State.

As you may know, the Republican proposal was to assign electors according to the vote in each Congressional district. Since there are two more electors than there are Congressional Representatives, the remaining two would go to the candidate who won the vote State-wide. Since Congressional districts have been designed to protect incumbents, this proposal would guarantee that at least 21 of California's electoral votes would be cast for the Republican candidate in the general election.

I wrote e-mails to several leaders of the California Democratic Party. I suggested that they combat this proposal with another proposal to assign electoral votes in a manner that the public would perceive as being fairer than choosing electors from Congressional district. My suggestion was to enact the law that would cast all of California's electoral votes to the candidate who obtained the most votes nation-wide. Some States have alread adopted this proposal. When States that have a majority of electoral votes adopt it, we will then have achieved the goal of direct popular election of the President.

None of the State Party leaders bothered to answer my e-mails.

It turned out that the Republican operatives shot themselves in the foot. Petition carriers made irrelevant and misleading claims about what the proposed initiative would accomplish. The California Secretary of State was able to shut down the signature drive because of these fraudulent claims. The proposal is dead for this year. It was stopped because of something that was unrelated to the merits of the proposal.

I won a civil lawsuit in small claims court once, not because my case had merit (it had) but because the defendant didn't bother to show up. The judge ruled in my favor without examining my claim or questioning my witnesses.

Monday, January 07, 2008


Personal thoughts about the candidates

My favorite candidate is John Edwards. I think he is the best campaigner. I think he is the best debater. I like his program for universal health care for all Americans. I like his willingness, even eagerness, to take on the big insurance and pharmaceutical firms that are standing in the way of any worth-while reform of our national health care system. It doesn't bother me at all that he is a multi-millionaire or that he makes his money as a trial lawyer. I wish that other Democrats were as enthusiastic about him as I. I see him as a sure winner against any candidate that the Republicans can field, especially their favorite at the moment, Mike Huckabee. Edwards and Huckabee are both from the South. Hence, Huckabee's Southern Accent would not give him any advantage in the most populous area of our country.

I also like Barack Obama. He is pleasant, reassuring, and optimistic about the future. I think he would make a good President. I don't know whether he has the same courage as Edwards in being willing to go against big Pharma and big Insurance. I don't know whether any of the other candidates have that courage.

I admire Mrs. Clinton. She has spunk and experience to qualify her for the office of President. Her personality seems a bit harsh. As President she might be a martinet. These may be unfair comments about her. If she is the nominee, I will certainly support her and vote for her. She has capabilities that could make her an outstanding President. We'll have to wait and see.

I admire Governor Richardson. He also has experience that qualifies him to be a good President. I don't know what his health care plan is. I think he would run a good campaign against any Republican now trying for the nomination of that Party.

Kucinich, Biden, Dodd, and Gravel are also admirable men. I could support any of them as our Party's nominee. They won't get the nomination, however, and I won't take up any more space with them.

On the Republican side, the two that I consider the most admirable are McCain and Huckabee. I don't agree with either of them and would not vote for either of them if one of the eight Democrats already mentioned were the Democratic nominee. I think McCain and Huchabee are both honest and sincere. Huckabee is a Baptist minister (as also is Jesse Jackson and was Martin Luther King) and believes in his brand of evangelical Christianity. I don't know what his opinions are of supply-side economics, the beneficial effects of tax cuts on the economy (whatever is wrong with it), and the beneficial and ruinous effects of "free trade" on the relative well-being of the affluent who buy low-priced products at Wal-Mart and of the working people who lose jobs that are transferred to low-wage countries. I think that Huckabee is dead wrong in advocating a change from the income tax to a national sales tax. I can't help but believe that if he thinks through the consequences of such a shift he would realize that the sales tax would saddle low and middle-income people with virtually the entire cost of running the government. He would realize that, comparing his own tax burden with that of Bill Gates and comparing their relative incomes, that he would be paying a much greater fraction of his income in sales taxes than would Mr. Gates. He would realize that most of the money that Mr. Gates spends would not be subject to sales taxes.

I think that Senator McCain is also honest and sincere. I give him some slack for his support of that fool we now have for President. I don't agree with McCain's view on Iraq. He thinks we can and should win. I think we can't win and that we should make the best deal we can with Iraq and its neighbors, including the "evil" governments of Syria and Iran.

I think that Governor Romney is slick, slippery, and hypocritical. As Governor of Massachusetts he was in favor of tolerating gay marriates and abortions. Now, to try to garner votes from potential Huckabee supporters, he says he has changed his mind on homosexuality and abortion. I don't believe it.

I think that Mayor Giuliani is slippery, slick, and mendacious. He touts his response to the terrible events of September 11, 2001 as proof of his ability to provide strong leadership to the nation. People who live in New York City know that before that date they didn't like at all his leadership of the City. He is a poseur.

Ron Paul is an interesting nut. He is the only Republican who opposes the Iraq war. He also opposes the federal income tax, social security, and other things that government does for the general welfare of the people. He is a libertarian. Government should leave people alone.

I have nothig positive to write about either Mr. Tancredo or Mr. Hunter.

These are my opinions. What are yours?

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