Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Martin O'Malley vs Chris Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley have a lot in common. Most notably, both are running for President and neither of them has a chance of capturing their party’s nomination. Christie is only 124 days older than O’Malley. Both are white male Catholics who governed east coast states. Both are former chairmen of their respective party’s governor’s association. Both were governors during the national recovery from the Bush Recession. But that’s where the similarities end.
O’Malley, a moderate-to-liberal Democrat, had a great degree of success in Maryland during the recovery. Christie, a conservative-to-Tea Party Republican, governs a state that is still floundering in comparison to neighboring states.
While neither man will become President in 2016, presidential ambitions are persistent and we may see an O’Malley-Christie contest down the road. Both are relatively young and have many presidential campaign seasons ahead of them.

And there’s no love lost between the two men. Back in 2011, O’Malley came to New Jersey to speak at the State Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner. This video contains some of his remarks about his New Jersey peer. (It should be noted that O’Malley was one of only a handful of top-tier Democrats who came to New Jersey to campaign for Barbara Buono in 2013.) In the video, O’Malley is flanked by former Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and former State Democratic Chairman John Wisniewski.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bernie's Right. TMac is Wrong.

Whenever something newsworthy happens, political candidates of all stripes spew out fundraising e-mails regardless of the topic. This week’s Democratic debate was no exception.

One such e-mail I received was from Congressman Tom MacArthur. While his $5 million campaign in 2014 was mostly self-funded, it seems that he now wants us to send him money so he can have a second term.

In his e-mail, MacArthur’s people wrote:

Last night's Democrat Presidential debate blew me away. One of the candidates actually said that the biggest threat to U.S. national security was CLIMATE CHANGE!
 Not ISIS. Not a nuclear Iran. Not Putin. Not a President who plays politics with our defense budget. Climate change.

The candidate that MacArthur refers to is Senator Bernie Sanders. From the debate transcript:

Moderator Anderson Cooper: Senator Sanders, greatest national security threat?
 Senator Sanders: The scientific community is telling us that if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we're going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable. That is a major crisis.

No matter how deep in denial MacArthur and his ilk are, Senator Sanders is spot on.

Human beings are fragile creatures. We evolved (sorry, GOP) over the centuries to live in a narrowly-defined climate. We can survive cold and hot temperatures, but not extreme heat. We can survive in an atmosphere consisting of 21% oxygen, but not significantly less. We need clean water to drink. But the continuous burning of fossil fuels is making our planet less habitable and no one really knows how far we are from the tipping point for human civilization.

Governor Martin O’Malley also correctly identified climate instability as one of the top threats to our survival. He mentioned mass migration as one consequence. As people desparate for food and water move to areas more habitable, it will make the current Syrian refugee crisis seem like a walk in the park.

But don’t take Senator Sanders’ or Governor O’Malley’s word for this. Consider the analysis by the Department of Defense and other national security organizations:

[T]he U.S. Department of Defense, the G7 Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Naval Analyses Military Advisory Board, and many other military experts agree that climate change a top national security threat. In fact, the Department of Defense's 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review stated that climate change impacts, such as resource scarcity and severe weather, are "threat multipliers" that will create conditions that can "enable terrorist activity." That's one reason why the Pentagon is already preparing for the impacts of climate change.[1]

No doubt ISIS and a nuclear Iran pose significant threats to America. Dealing with these threats won’t be simple. Just like dealing with Nazi Germany or secessionist states was not simple. But without the basic elements that sustain life on earth, those threats pale in comparison.

[1] - Accessed October 14, 2015

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Should We Prolong or End Unnecessary Suffering?

This week, former Jesuit student and current governor of California Jerry Brown signed a law that makes his state the fifth in the nation to offer solace and relief to certain terminally ill patients.

California’s “Death with Dignity” act is modelled after a similar law in Oregon that gives people with less than six months to live the option to accelerate their inevitable dying process by prescribing medication that enables them to die peacefully at the time and place of their choosing.

There’s a bill that would extend these choices to New Jersey residents who find themselves in similar tragic situations. The bill is supported by a diverse, bi-partisan group of legislators ranging from Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) to the Assembly Minority Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon (R).

There are multiple of safeguards in the bill that would ensure the patient is not making a decision under coercion, and experience in Oregon demonstrates that this option is not being misused.

Opposition to giving people this choice is huge. Some oppose on religious grounds, but people need to remember that this aid in dying initiative is totally optional and one’s religious beliefs should never be imposed on someone else. Others like Governor Christie oppose the bill for political purposes. He would rather cater to the misnamed “pro-life” crowd and see prolonged suffering of someone who is severely ill than allow that person the choice of how to end the final chapter of life.

We won’t see enactment of death with dignity as long as Christie is governor. But he won’t be in that office forever. It’s time to alleviate unnecessary pain and suffering and enact New Jersey’s  Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.