Friday, August 31, 2007

Discussing Political Strategy

My blogger friend Rogel is an interesting person. An Israeli immigrant to the States, he has of course his unique outlook and experiences to share regarding Israeli politics etc. I stumbled upon his site last year in the midst of the Israeli all out attack on Lebanon, well, the Hizbullah leader who lives there. Anyhow, those were passionate times for discussions, especially in the Israeli blogosphere. That is how I found out about Yohay's blog through another, now defunct english version of an Israeli blogger. You know how it is in this 'little world'; sometimes you end up 6 degrees of separation when you surf online. But I digress.
Rogel is also a self professed Libertarian. Since I have had some interactions and exposure to libertarians here in Austin, I figured who better to ask? So in a comment, I asked him this:

My question is off-topic but since I see 'Ron Paul for President' everywhere.. what do you think of the libertarians' approach for getting to office? I did go to one press conference/meeting for a libertarian here in TX, and I think they are more devoted to their outlook than even Republicans are. However, thinking political strategy, I do not believe that anyone will ever get voted into office if they do not try to hook up with independents. They will never get the voter's base needed to get into office, and more so than an independent, running for very high office(s) seems to be a waste of time and money that actually undermines them. In other words, they are being looked at as 'oh, one of those running again' when they never win. You probably can correct me with a few success stories in other parts of the US, but on the whole, libertarians run on principle, not on strategy and likelihood of a person to appeal to voters

Rogel responded:

This is an interesting question - does a political party, or activity, only justified by the ability to be elected? The obvious answer is yes, if one unable to be elected one cannot achieve its political goal. But this rule out any ideological movement and make the political game completely irrelevant. However I argue that political influence and political games can be achieve by participation, even without winning. Ross Perot wasn’t elected President, Ralph Nadar failing in a cycle of four years and so does the Libertarian Party - but I don’t think that we can dismiss their effect. By participating, and attracting enough support, Ideological candidates force the first tier candidates to some policy decision that will appeal to the public that support the "purist". .
read the rest of his commentary.

So, it's back to me to respond. Rogel, I think that is the same argument that some independent voters (might) make. I feel that instead of sticking to one's principles (and believe me, I'm all for it and I am by no means saying do the opposite of that)..BUT..instead of running for every seat imaginable just so you can say 'we're here and this is what we stand for', is not achieving what you believe it does. You believe that in essence second tier candidates can influence discussions or dialogues be bringing things up. I do not believe that Libertarians OR Independents can steer any subject significantly enough to get a first tier candidate to nudge on their position. I am of the believe, that Independents (the liberal and the conservative types) AND Libertarians should focus on state elections that they could win together. That AND working for fair election and campaign reform that would be inclusive of third party candidates. If, for example, in one or two states Independents/Libertarians could effectively gain more political power and 'have something to show for', that could lead the way for more visibility for other Independents/Libertarians in other states. To me it's not even a matter of those two vs the other two (reps and dems), it's the whole political process that should be open to others who are outside of the two big parties. By taking away political power from the democrats and the republicans, you will put the power back to the people. Plus, the democrats and republicans will also become more reflective of their core beliefs. Right now, people within those parties are expected to toe the party line and if there is a faction within said party who is a threat to another one, you get the dirty infighting that takes away from governing. I'm sure that is what happened with Howard Dean. You could almost say that by taking some/certain power away from the two parties, that they would gain another type. They would be free to really stand up for what they believe and you'd end up with a cooperative new model (for this country anyway) instead of the zero-sum and let's undermine the others by inserting this ridiculous idea in whatever bill that gets introduced in the House.

What do you think? I keep thinking about these thoughts as I'm driving past oodles of 'Ron Paul for President' signs. The official and home made ones.

Then I received an email from Independent Texans:

What do Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich have in common? They're the only candidates running in their respective primaries for President of the United States who have voted consistently against the Iraq war. (We remind you that independent voters have -- for now -- given Congress back to the Democrats on this very issue.) Kucinich is the only candidate who has yet to expressly reach out to independent (non-aligned) voters. And both Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, deemed "second tier" candidates by corporate media, have real traction with ordinary voters because corporate interests have no influence with these independent-minded public servants.

If you are attending the Republican Straw poll this weekend in Ft. Worth, please consider supporting Texan's own Ron Paul. Or please consider casting a "vote" for Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic Straw poll being conducted now through Sept. 7, as it appears anyone can vote in this poll online at:

How about that. And the discussion continues...

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Withinsight: Man with Tall Hat versus Amnesty International

Withinsight: Man with Tall Hat versus Amnesty International

I'm proud of Gary. Gary has worked for Amnesty International for quite some time, and in the last two years worked on this policy:

"...after more than two years of movement-wide debate and hard work, Amnesty International recently decided on a policy related to sexual and reproductive rights. Without stating a position on abortion generally, it said it would campaign for abortion rights in cases of rape, incest or violence, or where the mother's life or health is in danger.

The Pope and his boys now are instructing all Catholics to stop supporting Amnesty. Those guys! What a barrel of fun they are. They'd make good dads I'm sure...

I was involved in the decision-making process here in Canada and we know that we will lose some supporters, those who are opposed to abortion in any circumstances. We have also gained supporters, who wonder how a human rights organization cannot campaign on such a fundamental woman's issue."

Here is Lindsay (Lobe) explaining the reason behind this in a comment:

"Amnesties changed stance from their previous position of neutrality as I understand it in no way signals a move by the organisation towards recognising abortion as any woman's right, rather the decision refers only to those dire circumstances you mention of rape and life threatening circumstances for the mother.

Although the decision i wouild adjudge was motivated to support women’s freedom and provide a more compassionate response to women in difficult situations of pregnancy' more often that not no real choiuce is avaialable. I refer to the lack of choice when the Mother has no visible means of supporting the unborn child. There seems no other choice than abortion which may injure the heath and dignity of the women at the same time as ending the life of the unborn child.

I understand for instance a growing number of Iraqis -- most of them women and children -- are fleeing their homes to escape increased bloodshed caused by sectarian violence and abortions (although illegal and performed illegally) are increasing dramatically."

To which Gary explains Amnesty International's policy further.
Follow the link

Monday, August 27, 2007

Who's next??


(Nude Dude, a hairless Sphynx cat owned by Ed Keefer, poses during the South Central regional cat show sponsored by The International Cat Association in Waco, Texas August 19, 2007. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES) )

how'cha like this for a pet? With Dirk's allergies, perhaps we could be persuaded to have this type for a pet.. afterall, personality goes a long way!

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

San Fran

Do the BART man.

"I don't want to have my picture taken!" Fine..I'll take one of the Cal train instead

Fisherman's Wharf and one of the Pier entrances. It was actually a nice sunny day with a very sharp cold wind coming in from the bay..phoo! However, when you travel and sightsee, it's better to have to dress for a bit more warmth, than being hot and miserable.

One of the things the kids will remember most from their time in San Francisco; yep.. swimming at the (cold) pool of the hotel.

The first day we took our (rental) car into town to find the 49mile scenic drive, WITH map we got lost. Eventually we found it but it is something apparently very 'californian'; crazy road system. Well, it's not easy to find your way around. Anyhow, at first I thought, wow, finally! I'm in San Francisco! Then I thought, holy cow, there are just too many people here!! (duh). I did not think it was that pretty. Of course, there are the pretty bits that you'll see on tv, and the interesting bits (where gays roam and love freely what a concept, the crooked street, Monk scenes, Golden Gate bridge, China Town) but then, you miss the panoramic view attached to it; the ugly houses (many AND expensive), density of people, houses, the shivery me timbers foggy cold (ok, when you come from a warmer place, it takes getting used to,ahem), the built up of houses and lack of wide open spaces. Now I know that sounds like a dumb thing to say, it is. But I wasn't expecting to 'feel that'. I had always thought; wow, San Francisco it looks so 'Sunset Magazine-e' (bad english sorry). But the snippets of images gave way to the harsh reality of living in dense California where the housing cost is astronomical, the density is suffocating and the living ain't that easy. It was still a neat thing to see everything up close, to be able to say, been there done that. The Bart drove fast for a subway and I've been on a few subways; Singapore, London, Paris, Washington DC, Toronto.. is there a speed limit on this thing? Another thing that might've not been a 'smart' thing to do was to go there with the kids. Not that they could not handle it, but they won't remember much other than Dirk perhaps. It's a place to go with just your partner so you can go to the museums (we did not bother), stroll down certain places and take it all in. But, live and learn. I had not been on a 'proper' holiday (meaning, being away longer than 3 days) for 10 yrs. We did go to the S.F zoo which was much smaller than I expected from a city that big, but then, space is an issue. Plus, unlike the San Diego zoo where we've been before, this one you can do in one day so it was big enough. When we went to Union Square to catch the Bart back home, I saw all these neat clothing stores, some haute couture no doubt. If it would've been just James and I, I would have sauntered in for a look. Oh well, we saw a lot and appreciated what we saw and definitely appreciated our own home. It's no wonder that when Californians go into the rest of the country they say, wow.. all that house for THAT little money?! And then they go increase the prices because they can afford to live just about anywhere.
I like my big back yard. I like my wide open spaces and even the Austin size ain't that bad. Yet.

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Finally back!

San Fran's famous fog

Me, adjusting to the 'cold' in the Presidio park with Dirk and Rebecca

We just came back from a two week vacation this past week and it was fun to be out. That said, it is nice to be back home and sleep in my own bed!
We spent one week in San Francisco, Burlingame to be exact across the bay where we could see the SF international airport. Then, we flew to Idaho visiting friends and family. We drove the Cal train (aka the 'cow train' as it looked like a cattle train to me), the BART, a tram, not a trolley, but there were planes trains and automobiles so we had plenty of traveling excitement. Speaking for the kids of course.
In Idaho, we ended up on the Snake River first on a calm and stable pontoon. Then, the day before we left our friends, we went white water rafting. I asked my friends' son who's been doing it for 30 yrs and takes his grand kids if it was ok for my 4yr old. Sure! He said. Needless to say, even though it was a level two rapid, my daughter and I will never go rafting again! However, I can put a check mark on 'things to do in life' and not have to worry about white water rafting again. I'm a 'goat', not a 'fish'.
Here are some pics. More stories and pics later.

Visiting the Planetarium at the Herret Museum in Twin Falls

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