Archive for Parties

Nuclear and the Democrats

Today I received a very disturbing letter from a group called Public Citizen, whose mission includes keeping an eye on campaign finance reform, which was dealt a huge blow by the Supreme Court last year. It is a call for action, and I wanted to pass it on. If nuclear energy is progressive, then I am not a progressive. -DD

From Public Citizen (March 23, 2011): “Just days before the Japanese earthquake, nuclear power company Duke Energy extended a $10 million loan to Obama’s re-election convention committee. Tell President Obama to reject the $10 million loan from Duke Energy. Public Citizen is firmly opposed to politicians accepting huge sums of money from corporations. President Obama accepting a line of credit from Duke Energy — a company that operates three nuclear plants and is negotiating with federal officials on subsidies to build a fourth — while formulating his response to the crisis in Japan and reviewing our own energy policy presents the potential for a disheartening and disastrous conflict of interests. Furthermore, accepting this loan would seriously undermine the administration’s efforts to clean up electoral politics, which have included the Democratic National Convention banning direct corporate contributions for the first time ever. Send President Obama an email urging him to reject corporate loans to his re-election committee.”

http://www.citizen.org/reject-duke-energy-loan

Links to related articles:

From the National Center for Public Policy Research (March 17, 2011):Duke Energy to Bail Out the Democratic National Convention by Committing $10 Million Loan Guarantee

From All Gov (March 18, 2011):Duke Energy Gives Democratic National Convention $10 Million Line of Credit

From the National Legal and Policy Center (March 16, 2011):Duke Energy CEO Rogers Plays Politics With Shareholder Money; $10M Credit Line for Democrats

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Centrism and the Third-Party Reality

By Dana Davison

John Reisman is a conservative by definition, which he says frightens a lot of people because they misunderstand the meaning of the word. “How conservative is a Hummer?” he asks. “That’s not a conservative car. A conservative car is a Hyundai or a hybrid.” (He drives a Honda Civic.) He has friends in the military who say they hate the socialists and equate them with Democrats. Reisman likes to point out to those friends that the definition of socialism is owned and operated by the government, so they actually earn their paychecks under a socialist reality.

Reisman is methodically building the structure for a third political party that he believes will resonate with the largest swath of Americans. He registered the Centrist Party with the Federal Election Commission in 2006 and set up a website to provide the foundation. He wrote and posted five centrist editorials, and sent them to 13,000 press contacts, hoping to the change the language. He wanted to differentiate between moderates and centrists.

“We don’t need moderation, necessarily,” Reisman says. “Moderation is more malleable; it’s almost mealy. Centrism has to be about standing for tough subjects. It has to be strong.” He designed the Centrist Party on what he sees as the seven most crucial platform planks: economy, education, energy, environment, healthcare, political reform and security.

The notion of centrism is not new, but Reisman is the first to attempt establishing it as a viable third party. At the same time, he wants to protect his ideas from being misused, which makes him cautious. He won’t divulge any exact number of members, but he says that people across the country responded to the editorials and joined the party.

A recent Gallup poll indicated that 58 percent of Americans favor an alternative party, and independentvoting.org put independents at 40 percent of the electorate. Last year, a Washington Post poll found two-thirds of Americans “unhappy with the government.”

Reisman is a systems expert. He studies the ways things work, and how different parts work together. He worked on developing a new education system. He conducted research and analysis in energy-efficient urban and industrial buildings, and he was awarded a patent for his time management system. He studied engineering and worked in media production and information technology systems.

Fellow entrepreneur Amir Banifatemi says Reisman started his party as a way of focusing on common sense solutions. “His passion is solving problems,” he says. “Initially, I was looking at him as a weird person. He has so many ideas and different perspectives. As I got to know him, I realized that his mind is connecting things together like very few people can.”

Currently, Reisman is examining climate, energy, economics and healthcare systems, becoming well versed in all the pillars of his proposed party. He says he wants to apply his knowledge to the political system because it is critical to the collective future of the nation to start putting people before corporations.

“I do not believe we will be able to reverse these trends without a truly reasonable third party,” he says. For Reisman, a new party is the only way to break the gridlock between special interests, campaign influence and the resulting mediocre, ineffective legislation.

“He’s not trying to get anything for himself,” Banifatemi says, “He’s not backed by anybody. He used all his own money to do this, spent hours and nights on it, and he’s doing it alone.” He adds that Reisman, with his deep understanding of complex problems, sometimes gets too focused on solutions and has difficulty keeping it simple.

Reisman’s wife Harito, a Swiss marketing and communications specialist, explains this difficulty as related to his 160 IQ, but she says his sense of humor and comedic wit help keep it all in perspective. Reisman himself is working to make his approach more accessible.

“When you look at it from a holistic view, I mean the entire system of the political reality in America – the parent systems, collateral systems and subsystems as defined by Systems Science – everything’s intertwined; everything’s tied together,” he says. “We now have a political landscape that’s largely manipulated by legislative values, gerrymandering, media bias, profiteering and greed. All of these things are in play.”

While state ballot access, media coverage, debates and the Electoral College present obstacles for a third party, Reisman thinks the biggest challenge is making people aware enough to act. The Centrist Party is not on any state ballots yet. It would need petitions in 50 states. “It’s a concept,” he says.

The website allows membership by name and Zip code, to aggregate the districts. Once enough signatures are collected for a state, then that state can be registered with the secretary of state’s office so people can sign up for it in the next election cycle. Reisman is looking for an individual in each state to organize and set up the ballot, but he is being careful to find people truly in the center.

His caution stems from personal experience, and Reisman avoids the media for the most part. He says that candidates from both major parties lifted his material. He believes the current “media storm” makes it difficult for the public to be informed accurately and in context. “There are a lot of media biases fighting it out in the public and a lot of political biases fighting it out through the media,” he says. He wants to keep the Centrist Party out of that and keep it focused on the best ways to run the country.

As for getting into the debates, Reisman says he would have to see how things develop to that point, but that televised debates may not be so important if people are already seeing centrism as the right choice. “If they saw that the foundation work is there, and there was the notion that it is in motion, then it’s as simple as signing up on the Internet,” he says. “But for a Centrist Party to work, it has to be an intelligent and pragmatic party.”

Reisman says he is not convinced the Electoral College is as flawed as some people think, adding that it requires further investigation. He stresses that it is all about finding the right candidate. “We need candidates who are strong enough to argue for reason,” he says. “People who aren’t going to smile all time just to get people to like them. We don’t need baby kissers. We need somebody willing to look at all the exigencies of our reality and how to realistically address those.”

Although he does not intend to run for office himself, Reisman believes none of the hurdles are insurmountable, as long as the organization comes from people being aware. He put the system in place, and now the public will have to decide whether or not to mount a third-party attempt and get the Centrist Party on the ballot by 2012.

Read the Centrist Party tenets and positions at: http://www.uscentrist.org

And more John Reisman here:
http://www.johnreisman.com/bio/
http://www.ossfoundation.us/
http://www.enovant.ch/

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It Is What You Make It

Nine months flew by since my last entry here, and all I can say is the more things Change, the more they stay the same. Since then, Obama fever dropped down to just above normal, as even some of the more faithful got to reason and critical thinking, and started asking tough questions of our new president based on his actions since taking office, as he’d wanted us to do. Encouraged by this, I guess I got lazy. In any case, I admittedly began tuning out politics again in favor of other, more enjoyable pursuits.

A few weeks ago, however, I was shaken back into it by the remarkable observations of a couple of usually like-minded individuals, both giving me the same line. I’d been so out of the loop I couldn’t argue but instead stared back blankly. On separate occasions, both starting with a conversation about the Nobel Peace Prize, I mentioned the irony of Obama accepting an award for peace right before going into a War Council meeting, where he would discuss sending even more troops than the tens of thousands he’s already committed to Afghanistan. I offered no further opinion, purposefully steering clear of that. The reactions were the same, to the effect of: Well, maybe we really do need to maintain this presence in Afghanistan and maybe sending more troops really is necessary.

Really? I thought a great reason to admire Obama was that he voted against the war in Iraq and would not escalate the situation in Afghanistan. But the thing that struck me only later and made me want to write about it is this: What would these same people be saying if it were George W. Bush approving a surge and considering additional troops? The fact is they would be outraged. And this double standard is the thing that drives me crazy, the tunnel vision that apparently is still very much alive out there, the unspoken imperative that we must treat this president with kid gloves, that criticizing him is somehow unpatriotic or politically incorrect, or it makes you a big downer. Even some people who agree that Afghanistan is a quagmire will still become visibly upset or despondent at any suggestion that Obama has not yet managed to live up to those high expectations they themselves set for him. I get it. But it points out one big flaw of the left if we are not asking the exact same questions we would of Bush or any other candidate or sitting president.

So Afghanistan remains a major focus of discussion, as does unemployment, which reached new heights last month. “The nation’s unemployment rate hit 10.2 percent in October, reflecting the economic pain of the 16 million jobless Americans, as well as the strain felt by the 138 million others who are working harder to earn their paychecks… The economy lost 190,000 jobs in October, the 22nd consecutive monthly decline and the longest losing streak on record dating back 70 years.” [Source: Nation's Unemployment Rate at 10.2% in October by Tom Abate, San Francisco Chronicle]

The health care reform bill that passed the House, which remains a mystery to most of us really, has replaced the Stimulus Package as a hot topic. The public does have access online to H.R.3962, but who can make sense of it all or know how it would manifest? [See: Affordable Health Care for America Act (Introduced in House)] I’m relying on my own sources to inform me on this bill and they are divided. The Nader camp calls it a bailout for the insurance companies, Credo and CodePink will give the okay only with some public option, and the Patients Action Network supports it in conjunction with another bill on Medicare reform. I suspect doing something is better than doing nothing, but I also fear that whatever watered down final version we might end up with won’t help many of us either.

Here are a few relevant newsy tidbits I’ve found in my most recent political researching session…

On Afghanistan
Bill Moyers Essay: Restoring Accountability for Washington’s Wars

On Unemployment
Obama’s to Fix by Charles M. Blow, New York Times

On Healthcare
Dennis Kucinich Explains Why He Voted No On Affordable Health Care for America Act

Bill Maher Explains the Healthcare Crisis

Also Of Interest
Obama One Year Later: The Audacity of Winning vs. The Timidity of Governing by Arianna Huffington

Obama’s Critical Moment Approaches by Camille Paglia

Hopefully another nine months won’t go by before my next entry, and certainly I’ll continue signing petitions and speaking up on issues that are important to me and encourage others to be as involved as possible, but I’m waiting for the Ethical Realist party to emerge, some alternative that puts humanity first. Until then, I focus on the little things…

– Hope Dascher

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Husband and Wife, Two Sides of the Center and Still Friends

BY M. PORTA

Continuity is hard to come by, but for as long as I can remember I’ve always been a free agent. Not what you’d call a joiner. And so when everyone here in New York was falling in love with Obama (whom I had initially preferred over Hillary), I started to wonder. When people start to flock it gives me that “uh-oh” feeling. The fervor with which he was being embraced gave me pause, just as the vitriol over George W had done long before. Could Bush really be the root of all evil? And could Obama really be the answer to all our prayers?

My husband and I are political moderates, though he feels a greater affinity for the left, while I tend to be more understanding of the right. You’d never know it, probably because I am socially very liberal. When it seems to me that someone on the right is making sense, I just keep it to myself.

From the beginning both of us had respected McCain, primarily for his work in campaign finance reform. This is an issue that was extremely important to us, believing that nothing will ever really change until politicians stop being bought. From our perspective, McCain staked his career on this, and was extremely unpopular with members of both parties for having done so. We also liked that the Republican orthodoxy was at odds with him; Bush and the neo-cons had strayed too far from real conservatism, so McCain’s pragmatic, bi-partisan approach seemed to be the injection of reason that the Republican party needed.

We knew it would be an uphill battle for him. All the charm, charisma, and natural speaking ability contained in Obama was lacking in McCain. Obama couldn’t stop talking, yet the substance of his words eluded me. Still, he was so likeable, so decent. McCain, for all his accomplishments, experience, and renowned sense of humor, could sometimes appear flustered, irritated, and crotchety. And, of course, we were so tired of Bush that it was difficult to find a more diametrical opposite (we thought) than Obama: young, biracial, smooth and elegant—though not at all entitled. He excited and inspired us. We were only too happy to see Bill and Hill getting thrown under the wheels of the bus by their own kind.

At a certain point in the campaign, my husband and I felt the usual gravitational pull: I started veering to the right, while he characteristically went left. Every night we spoke about the candidates and the issues that were closest to our hearts—the environment, how money and power have corrupted the political process, education, and the nation’s defense and the threat to the West from fundamentalist Islam. We bantered and cajoled and hollered and rolled our eyes, and ended by canceling out one another’s vote. He agreed with me that Obama had promised too much to too many, which could translate into a business-as-usual agenda or even a make-it-up-as-you-go-along plan. Either way, we can’t afford it. I agreed with him that the time wasn’t really right for McCain, not only because he was old and a hawk and had run a lousy campaign, but because people were so angry that no matter what he did—even if his performance was excellent—they’d never give him credit.

I was actually relieved when Obama won. I hope he puts all my suspicions to bed, that he can live up to even a quarter of what we’re all expecting from him. What might it be for us to undergo real change? That, for me, is still the question.

M. Porta is a freelance writer and editor who lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.

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