Reasons to Vote for Gillibrand or Warren & Not for Biden

I can appreciate that former Vice-President Joe Biden is willing, so it appears in some respects, to speak his conscience and advocate for unpopular policy positions.

That said, his stance on abortion– upholding the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits use of federal funds for abortions with the exception of rape, incest, and the life of the mother) more specifically– troubles me.

Also, Biden recently “elicited confusion” — as The Daily Beast’s  Emily Shugerman puts it— because, before changing his official stance today, he had voiced his support for abolishing the Hyde Amendment.   

CNN’s Rebecca Buck reported by tweet today

The Biden campaign says he misheard this woman on the ropeline and thought she was referring to the Mexico City rule

(The so called “Mexico City rule,” as Planned Parenthood website explains, “prevents foreign organizations receiving U.S. global health assistance from providing information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or advocating for access to abortion services in their country — even with their own money.”)

I cannot help but wonder, is this really what Biden thought?

While I don’t mean to doubt his honesty or his sharpness of thought, I ask because I’m not sure why he thought she was referring to the “Mexico City rule.”

The ACLU activist, who goes by Nina according to the ACLU tweet sharing the video– did ask Mr. Biden rather directly, “Will you commit to abolishing the Hyde Amendment which hurts poor women and women of color?” and he really had absolutely nothing to say about this policy other than to immediately emphasize how he’s “got a near perfect voting record my entire career” and to add “Right now it can’t be, it can’t stay. Thank you,” and then he walked away.

How aware was Mr. Biden of this specific interaction, and how genuine? To me, it comes across as (though I cannot prove it is) insincere, as if he was sort of mindlessly going through the rhythms of shaking hands, saying hello, and quickly acting on hasty guesses as to what he thinks the people want to hear.

Not that this is a unique problem among politicians and not that Biden should be singled out as the only one guilty of this. Still, between the dynamics of Trump’s electoral success in 2016 for appearing “different,” and Hillary Clinton’s failure in part for seeming like more of the status-quo, one would hope Democrats and sympathetic #NeverTrumpers have learned that politics in the last few years has been changing drastically. Likewise, the kind of politicians we are in need of has been changing.

More disconcerting though than Biden’s inability to appear especially genuine and cognizant of what he’s saying and who he’s saying it to is that his belief in upholding the Hyde Amendment disadvantages women who don’t earn much income.

As the Planned Parenthood website says, “When policymakers deny a woman insurance coverage for abortion, she is either forced to carry the pregnancy to term or pay for care out of her own pocket.”

Biden’s position is thus an affront to efforts made both by women’s advancement in society and efforts to promote the well-being of the economically insecure. Moreover, along with the basic unfairness of the policy, it contradicts conventional Democratic values.

Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren are quite savvy and pro-active on this point.  Of the 20 plus candidates running in the Democratic Presidential primary, along with the 89 year old former Senator from Alaska– Mike Gravel (who is not making a substantial splash in the polls)– these two are the boldest when it comes to their protectiveness of abortion rights, making it clear that they believe it ought to be a matter of law that women be permitted to have abortions should they so choose.

In the process of evaluating Democratic candidates in the midst of this primary, Gillibrand and Warren put their exceptionalism thus far on full display. In contrast, Biden, the mainstream media sweetheart, seems to be either somewhat confused, trying too hard to play politics, or simply fails to demonstrate his awareness of the consequences of his continued support of the Hyde Amendment.

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House Democrats Should Begin Impeachment Proceedings Now or They’ll be Hypocrites Pandering to Re-Election Obsession Just Like Republicans

Just shy of a year ago,  President Trump confused many of us with what seemed like dogmatic deference to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was, Trump said, “extremely strong and powerful in his denial” of interference in the American 2016 elections.

Trump said in addition that he didn’t  “see any reason why it would be” Putin or the Russian state in particular that was involved.

At that point Mueller was still investigating. Not that it mattered to me. By then I was amping my calls for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. A common response I received and heard was to wait for the Mueller investigation to conclude.

Now it has.  

And now there is indeed more talk of impeachment, across the aisle (even if Representative Justin Amash is the lone Republican in the bipartisan mix among members of congress currently in office).

And if the House of Representatives did manage to pass articles of impeachment against the president– which Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is doing her best to prevent–  “it would be disposed of very quickly,” Senator Lyndsey Graham told The Hill.  

I cannot help but consider what Washington Post Columnist George Will recently pointed out: as of now, it does seem, that if Trump were impeached it “will not result in Trump’s removal.” He adds, “Today’s congressional Republicans…  would make a Senate impeachment trial a partisan debacle ending in acquittal.”

Washington Post columnist Max Boot puts it another way: while “there is no doubt that [impeachment] is justified legally and morally” there are concerns among many as to whether or not it  “makes sense politically.”   

Ross Garber, a lawyer, professor and legal analyst, in an article for CNN explains why it may be unreasonable or hasty to suppose it won’t ultimately “make sense politically.” He writes:

the speaker [Rep. Nancy Pelosi} has set a novel and unrealistically high burden for simply initiating an  impeachment process. It would also be unfair and improper to begin an impeachment process only if conviction has been conclusively predetermined.The whole point of an impeachment process is to conduct a fair evaluation of the facts and constitutional standard.

Initiating an impeachment process also provides a forum for the public to learn about the relevant facts and the constitutional burdens. Impeachment hearings might also develop new evidence. The speaker’s notion of requiring certainty of conviction before even considering charges is wrongheaded and improper.

Moreover, if we consider Max Boot’s point that impeachment is “justified legally and morally” just how willing are Democrats (and Republicans for that matter) willing to sacrifice what really should be done with re-election concerns?

At what point does one say it is more important to do what is ethical, legal, and just, than what is politically likely to succeed? In other words, what is the proper  principle for defining when it is better to stand for the right thing at the cost of possibly losing than casting the right thing aside in the interest of “winning?”

No doubt, the former Prussian Prime Minister spoke with wisdom and understanding when he said that “politics is the art of the possible” and yet I cannot help but find myself in agreement with Democratic 2020 hopeful Elizabeth Warren who said:

There is no political inconvenience exception to the United States Constitution, If any other human being in this country had done what’s documented in the Mueller report, they’d be arrested and put in jail.

We took an oath not to try and protect Donald Trump, we took an oath to protect and serve the Constitution of the United States of America, and the way we do that is we begin impeachment proceedings now against this president.

Afterall, is it not the outrage of so many Democrats and independents that the Republicans defer to winning strategy over the right thing to do? Is that not why we arein the current political mess we are in? Do the Democrats not realize the political vulnerability they will find themselves mired in when their opponents and critics accuse them of hypocrisy?

On Globalism & a Cosmopolitan, Secular, One State Solution for Israel & Palestine (Sean O’Connor’s Public Comment video diary vlog– episode #15)

TRANSCRIPT:

So, yesterday the New York Times reported that the Trump administration announced they’re going to hold an “economic workshop” in Bahrain hoping that their contribution to an improved Palestinian economy will lead to a friendlier approach to Israel. Meanwhile, the Trump administration appears to lean towards a pro-Israel one-state solution, as President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is on record saying “let’s just not say” ‘two states’ (God forbid– and no pun intended)

This unreasonableness here, and the bias is blatant.  Not that I’m in love with a so called “two state solution.” I have many reservations about this. But my opposition to a “two state solution” is of the unconventional sort.

I do understand a case for cynicism that Israel and the Palestinians could ever live in a secular and cosmopolitan democracy. The recent violence in Gaza– the worst breakout of violence in 5 years, as has been widely reported– is ample proof that both sides of this conflict are deep in the thickness of zealous, indignant nationalism.

But that is the root of the problem– nationalism! Thus, a two state solution is at best a temporary band aid– a cheap one, ready to fall off the first time you wash your hands at that–  since it does not address this notion that the Israelis and Palestinians simply can’t co-exist as people beyond ethnicity, beyond “nation,” beyond race, and beyond religion, in a spirit of tolerance and real representative democracy.

Still, that being said, if there is to be a “Jewish” Israeli state, I think it would only be fair that there be a Palestinian state. But I must reiterate, logically, this is not a good long term plan!

And frankly, this whole “nationalism” thing is becoming a real serious global problem which the Trump administration is only adding to. I believe we need to start re-examining a cosmopolitan and globalist philosophy.

Just like states in a union can be “laboratories for democracy” as the expression goes– why can’t countries be seen as such ultimately? We’re all humans and our anxieties over resources will only get more complicated.

And what does that look like?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the media industry, and even education and academia, and what the internet means for it in the longer term as things have been evolving over the last decade or so. For example, what does it mean now that podcasts and smaller internet media organizations, whether through social media or cheap apps are emerging? With the means for them to develop getting cheaper and their willingness to produce without making much money persisting, more and more people are gaining access to information for free.

There are a lot of benefits to this—more people are self actualizing, expressing themselves, developing the sophistication of their productivity, but media and academia as we know it are also, it seems, hemorrhaging.

No, I’m not worried about Amazon, Jeff Bezos, Comcast, NBC, or Netflix overall. But there is a massive economic shakeup going on. And it’s not just the way information and technology are shaking up academia and the media.

And how does China’s Huawei innovation of a 5G network play into this? Frankly, considering how we know they don’t believe in free speech, and imprison millions of Uighurs in the North Western Province of China— Xinjiang for being Muslims … as they buy more cellphone parts from US companies — could they manage to shake up so called American values in such a way that those benefiting from Chinese subsidized technology ultimately choose to preserve their way of life — I mean their money and business regardless of  any bad intentions China might have with the use of its marvelous technology? Don’t doubt it…we’ve seen how money and power corrupted a nationalistic Trump coalition GOP.

What’s my point? Wouldn’t Chinese influence over a nationalistic U.S. agenda lead to more globalism? Would it? Or could it lead to complex cyber conflicts playing on our economic anxieties, and vulnerabilities exacerbated by competing nationalistic drives?  

It’s one thing to talk about nationalism versus globalism in the abstract. That will only get us so far. We need to be more assertive and start talking about anti-nationalistic policies, like calling for more aggressive cooperation between the Palestinians and the Israelis with the end game ultimately being a secular, cosmopolitan one state solution.