Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Green Old Party

Recently a Green Party supporter well-known to me dismissed my "lesser of two evils" argument relative to Trump and Clinton by saying that from 150 years out they both look the same.

One wonders: how do we get to 150 years from now? Do none of the intervening years make a difference? Is there such a thing as incremental change that will get us closer, a step at a time? Even more importantly, from a "green" perspective, if quick change is necessary to prevent some kind of drastic global meltdown, how will we get it without some connection to the levers of central government, which the Green Party will only ever have in an ice-age wet dream?

Here's a little mental exercise, just to take one issue presumably at the core of the Green agenda: how much closer would we be to a national program of alternative, non-carbon energy if Al Gore had been elected in 2000? Remember Al Gore, who wrote Earth in the Balance in 1992 but who still was somehow not Green enough for the Greens in 2000, who ran Nader and secured a GOP victory?

If you're a Green and say Nader didn't cause Gore to lose, it wasn't so much Florida (although it was there, really), it was New Hampshire. Here's Allen Clifton from Forward Progressives:
While most people focus on Florida, it was actually New Hampshire that gave Bush his victory. Here are the vote totals from New Hampshire in 2000: Bush: 273,559 Gore: 266,348 Nader: 22,198 Gore lost by 7,211 votes.
Now, being that the state of New Hampshire has gone to the Democratic candidate every single presidential election since 1992 — except in 2000 (1992, 1996, 2004, 2008, 2012) — are you really trying to argue that it was just a coincidence that Gore was the one Democrat to lose the state in the last 24 years and Nader’s 22,198 votes had nothing to do with it? If Gore had won New Hampshire, it wouldn’t have mattered what happened in Florida — he’d have been elected president either way.
Jill Stein says Gore--despite his highly publicized commitment to environmental issues--wasn't Green enough because ... Bill Clinton! Thus performing the amazing feat of equalizing the roles, influence, authority, and power of President and Vice-President. I'd guess that anyone who's ever been VP with ambitions to become POTUS (in other words, not Joe Biden) could steer her straight on that matter.

Back to that 150 year vision: There is no question but that the US would be much closer to a lower-carbon future had Gore been elected in 2000. Sixteen whole years down the drain thanks to the self-composting ideological sanctimonies and political imbecility of the Green Party!

Can we start again? Hillary Clinton is certainly no Al Gore on environmental issues, but the Democratic platform does mention encouragement of non-carbon energy sources. The GOP platform is pretty much drill, baby, drill.

0.198 steps forward? Or another sixteen steps back? Why does this feel so familiar?

And that was just one issue. Take many, many more, e.g. just one more: health insurance for those who couldn't afford it before Obama. It's going to be Trump-trashed, so be ready, Mr. Green, to get copies of my daughter's medical bills sent to you in your treehouse where you oh-so-loftily don't care about the real-life impact of politics.

Oh, now I get it: that 150-year vision thing means 150 years ago! Back to 1866! Well, okay, in that case the Green Party is doing exactly what it needs to do by guaranteeing a succession of Republican victories. I can only hope that the Republicans who get elected will take another stab at Reconstruction.

Damn the politics! Full speed backwards!

Friday, September 23, 2016

How the real 2nd Amendment holds the key to solving today's police violence (it's not what you think)

Today's Folly is brought to you by Bathrobes Pierre.

I have to say real 2nd Amendment, because the widely-accepted NRA view is uninformed by the context provided by the amendment's opening clause, "A well-regulated militia ..."

The result of this misinterpretation is an anarchic situation that is quite the opposite of a well-regulated militia. In this landscape of firearms and fear, the police have responded--out of necessary self-preservation, some say--with increasingly violent and militarized tactics that serve only to add to the fear and uncertainty, particularly when they skew along racial lines.

I write as a student of history, not as a legal scholar. But this has particular value when it comes to the 2nd Amendment. As I have written in numerous places, the militia of the Founders was a required civic duty, mandated and regulated by state law. It was not very popular duty, and better-motivated volunteer units gradually rendered the civic militia moribund, so that it was pretty much dead by the time of the Civil War.

What in the world does that have to do with police violence? The 2nd Amendment was inspired by a distrust of professional standing armies, which our militarized police forces in effect have become. They represent the complete alienation of the police function from the body of the citizenry.

That was not the case when there was a civic militia. These often participated as auxiliaries assisting in police functions, most notoriously in slave patrols in the South. There wasn't much money, and professional police forces were small. Citizen participation was essential.

Today we are awash in money, but it is being wasted at the expense of civic virtue. The belief of the Founders in the value of obligatory civic participation and the dangers of an over-reliance on a professional, militarized police are being borne out today. We need a revived civic militia to be part of a law enforcement function that returns some of the burden and responsibility to the citizenry at large.

Simply put, the states would require militia duty the way they require jury duty. Police would no longer carry weapons, but would always be accompanied by a small patrol of citizens, residing in the area being patrolled, among whom would be the only people authorized--with appropriate training--to carry weapons abroad (outside of hunting). There would be no more open carry or concealed carry except in this regulated militia context. Voila--a well-regulated militia doing work it was designed to do.

I believe that one result of the use of bands of local citizens in a required (not volunteer), regulated law enforcement function--by bringing more eyes on the street and more hands on deck--would be less reliance on firearms and a much-reduced incidence of police violence.

Reviving the civic militia in this way would have a huge, positive effect on law enforcement and on patterns of citizen involvement. Simple, yes; easy, hahaha!