Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “President Clinton”

Move On – Super PAC?

I’ve been a big fan of MoveOn.org since the last Presidential election. I smiled every time I sat in my car behind one of their bumper stickers and, being from the Bay Area and having a long commute, I probably smiled a lot.

I have also been a critic of Super PACs and voiced my disappointment at the establishment of an Obama Super PACPriorities USA Action – so you will excuse me when I realized that MoveOn.org may well be defined as a PAC. It probably wasn’t envisioned as such (or at least not with the baggage the Super PACs now carry. From their Wiki Page:

“MoveOn started in 1998 as an e-mail group, MoveOn.org, created by software entrepreneurs Joan Blades and Wes Boyd, the married cofounders of Berkeley Systems. They started by passing around a petition asking Congress to “censure President Clinton and move on”, as opposed to impeaching him. The petition, passed around by word of mouth, was extremely successful; ultimately, they had half a million signatures.[9] The couple went on to start similar campaigns calling for arms inspections rather than an invasion of Iraq, reinstatement of lower limits on arsenic and mercury pollution, and campaign finance reform.”

Joan Blades and Wes Boyd - Founders of MoveOn.org

MoveOn doesn’t have the feel of a Super PAC. They have harnessed email, Facebook, and Meetup forums. It has an Action Forum that allows members to decide and promote progressive causes.

MoveOn has divided into two legally separate entities: one is educational and advocates for national issues (MoveOn Civic Action), while the other is a more traditional PAC, raising millions of dollars for Democratic candidates.

There is nothing wrong, illegal, or immoral with what MoveOn.org is doing. But those bumper stickers just don’t make me smile anymore. I wish for a simpler time, when politicians won elections with scintillating rhetoric, inspiring vision, and a strategy to make the world a better place for all.

But then, that doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker.


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

The Republican Freak Show – Roger Ingalls

Is it just me or do others view the 2012 Republican presidential candidates as a bunch of creepy clowns interviewing for a gig at a neighborhood carnival?

Looks at these freaks. I can’t believe this is the best the Republican Party has to offer. It’s an embarrassment not only to the nation’s right leaning folks but all people of this great country.

Newt Gingrich, really? The morals-trumpeting hypocrite went after President Clinton with impeachment for having an affair and it turns out Newt is an adulterer himself. Not to mention, he’s a Jabba the Hut look-alike.

The Godfather of pizza, Herman Cain, couldn’t find Libya on a map if a fourth-grader was pointing at it. He may have more out-of-court sexual harassment settlements than Sarah Jessica Parker has shoes. At least he’s smart enough to keep himself out of jail.

Rick Perry is the crazy cowboy Ronald Reagan always wanted to be. Visions of mass pray-ins at Texas-sized stadiums are dancing in my head. Rick can be seen waving the Bible in one hand and shooting a gun in the other while praying with his snake charming buddies (click for video).

My favorite sideshow is Michele “pray-out-the-gay” Bachmann. She can’t open her mouth without tripping over the fake American history that drools out. A fourth-grader should be hired to proof her speeches.

Herman Cain, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann

Mitt Romney seems somewhat normal but he does more flip-flops than a trapeze artist in a three-ring tent. The conservative marketing machine – Fox News – doesn’t like Romney so he doesn’t have a chance. Maybe Rupert Murdock doesn’t like Mormons.


These clowns are freakish enough on their own but now there’s a ring master. Donald Trump is moderating a Republican debate in late December. Can this conservative carnival get any loonier?

I know this post sounds a little mean-spirited but let’s get serious; we need greatness in the Whitehouse not laughable personalities best suited for a 19th century traveling circus.

We deserve better.


Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

When Leaders Become Human

On Friday I wrote about the decision by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government to rescind a recent decision to develop their nuclear power policy and instead to wean their country from such a dangerous source of energy. This U-turn was made in the wake of Japan’s crippling nuclear crises following the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

My blog post soon went on to talk about the issue of nuclear power, but lost in there was the recognition of a leader who, upon seeing factors that would change her decision, decided to come out and admit that her previous decision was wrong.

I want to applaud such action and suggest that, far from suggesting that this illustrates weakness, such a leader shows credibility and a clear desire to put the welfare of her country above all.

My wife tells of how she hardly knew anything of President Clinton prior to his election victory (she was living overseas). She watched a press conference on his first day. When asked about a specific issue of foreign policy, he turned to the reporter and admitted that he didn’t know enough on the issue to discuss it. He promised to prep and have an answer ready.

You don't need to know everything if you can play the sax!

The right-wing press enjoyed using this to suggest that he wasn’t prepared to be President. My wife, on the other hand, tells how she was impressed by his honesty.

A leader doesn’t have to get it right all the time. S/he should be able to assess  new factors and change direction just as a ship’s captain changes his route when the weather conditions dictate. Most impressive is that extra ounce of courage needed to admit it to the public and expose yourself to the media sharks.

A tip of the hat to you, Chancellor Merkel.


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Don’t Let The Extremists Control The Agenda

I recently shared my optimism that with the various demonstrations and upheavals in the Middle East, and specifically in Gaza and the West Bank, we were nearing a stage whereby the moderate Palestinians and Israelis were moving closer towards a shared agenda of a sustainable peace treaty.

Tragically, terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and Itamar, multiple launches of bombs from Gaza towards populated areas of Israel and the anticipated military response of Israel, suddenly makes my blog post look, at best, wildly optimistic.

Anti-missile protection deployed for the city of Beersheva

But this is where we need to step back and gain perspective. Why did Palestinian extremists decide to up the ante now? Did they think the world wasn’t distracted enough by the upheaval in the Middle East, or the natural and nuclear catastrophe in Japan? Hardly makes any sense.

Perhaps they actually felt threatened by the peaceful demonstrations in their own backyard? Faced with the possibility that the majority of people, Palestinian and Israeli, were calling for a diplomatic solution, these extremists decided that the best way to prevent such progress was to blow it up in their faces – literally. They could count on cooperation from the Israeli right, who would immediately demand revenge and retribution.

It is easier to destroy than build bridges of peace and trust. It takes a single spark to ignite the powder keg that is the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Many say that when there is violence, we should be strong and not talk peace. I admit that I have felt this way in the past. But however painful it is when we see the pictures of victims, this is precisely the time to understand that there can only be one sustainable solution to the conflict. This must be the assertion of the moderates on both sides – that they will not tolerate their leaders straying from paths that will bring us closer to a permanent peace.

Egypt & Israel sign a peace treaty

Now more than ever, we need to be out in the streets, banging the drums of peace.



Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).


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