Archive for September, 2014

Green Blues

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Notwithstanding my loss four years ago by 400,000 votes to the incumbent Connecticut attorney general George Jepsen, I’m on the ballot again this year as the Green Party candidate. I’d promised my Green friends that I’d run if a younger, better nominee couldn’t be recruited. There wasn’t anybody else.

I start by conceding that Jepsen is a good attorney general. He’s kept a lower profile than his precedessors, and if he’s running for higher office, it’s not evident. Plus, he’s popular with his subordinates, and, on the routine matters that occupy the attorney general most of the time, he’s worthy of my party’s endorsement. Even so, I’ll probably vote for myself, mostly out of loyalty to my party.

In the highly unlikely event that I get elected, as top priority, I’ll target corrupt authority, especially as it infects Washington, DC. I believe this distinguishes me from the major-party candidates. On the downside, citizens would have to do some work to get me elected. I tend to say what I think, and this is not a way to ingratiate yourself with voters. “Don’t be an idiot!” has serious flaws as a campaign slogan.

And I’m not accepting any money. I’m spurning the elections industry, where all that advertising comes from. I don’t much want the votes of people who respond to glossy cards that come in the mail and slow-motion images of venal politicians on TV, and I’m pretty sure I couldn’t get many of those votes in any case.

Of course, a candidate doesn’t receive much attention from media or political organizations when he refuses to raise money and advertise, but I have a web page anybody can examine. People who want to make an informed choice when they vote can find out all about me and get an idea of what I would do as attorney general. All they have to do is the basic work of citizenship.

The main reason you don’t hear much from or about minor-party candidates is that it’s generally acknowledged that they can’t win. The whole point of an election, most people think, is to populate elective offices. Candidates who can’t get elected don’t count, and, sometimes, neither do their votes.

Minor-party voters think an election should do more than just declare a winner. They see it as a contest of ideas as much as a contest of personalities, and they measure the popularity of their ideas by the number of votes their candidates get. If reporters of events shared these voters’ view of democratic government, minor-party candidates might get more attention in the newspapers and on TV. And we might all have a stronger republic.

If I get one percent of the votes cast, my party will retain its ballot line, making way for a third choice four years from now in the event that the major-party candidates are both crooks and the Greens find somebody really good. If I get fifty percent, I’ll become attorney general. Don’t hold your breath.

World War Three

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

The alliance formerly known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is disturbingly reminiscent of the men who brought on world war in Europe 100 years ago. Each of the national leaders of that time and place enhanced his image in the nation he led with a flag in one hand and a sword in the other. Each marched his soldiers off behind beautifully mounted generals in plumed helmets, to martial music and the applause of adoring crowds. Today, modern equivalents of those venal men have the world at war once again, and, like 100 years ago, it’s impossible to reckon what it’s all about.

Looking back, it’s hard to tell which were the good guys and which the bad–several of the antagonists were part of the same imperial family–and so we conveniently conceded goodness to the winners and disparaged the losers. Also conceded to the winners were vast stretches of land in every corner of the world, causing generations of grief and bloodshed to the various unfortunate peoples who lived there.

The first world war was a unmitigated failure of civilization, without purpose and permanently disabling. Like its predecessor, the third world war, for no good reason, has inflicted death and injury on millions, and its consequences will haunt humanity for generations to come. As for the people who conceived and executed the present atrocities, they are dining royally in Cardiff, Wales, plotting further military adventures in Russia, Syria and Iran.

We don’t refer to the current alliance by the acronym “NATO” these days, but with a conventional proper noun–”Nato”–that rhymes with potato. That may be because the alliance’s involvements with events in the North Atlantic are few and far between. Lately, they’ve meddled in Afghanistan and Ukraine, but in states located on the Atlantic Ocean, not so much. I watched a procession of flag-bearers from various nations at the organization’s convention in Cardiff and it reminded me of the colorful processions of Hussars and Cossacks and Legionnaires, bound for the mud, blood, and slime of the trenches. Fools led by fools.

How, a century later, in the wake of one unsuccessful military adventure after another, seemingly rational people could continue to maintain a military alliance is a mystery our grandchildren, if they survive, will have to unravel. Armed force is an anachronism. If Nato, with its bunker-busting bombs and supersonic jets, couldn’t beat Afghanistan in a war, is a military engagement with Russia a realistic prospect? And if it isn’t, should threats of armed force by this useless, reckless cabal be tolerated?

In this country, the threats come, without exception, from Democrats and Republicans, at a time when elections are just around the corner. Voters who are unwilling to tolerate Nato’s sabre-rattling should make it clear to candidates and office-holders alike that they won’t cast a vote for anybody who supports Nato’s dangerous tactic. If this means spoiling things for Democrats, so much the better. Retribution is due.