Category: Politics

Vote Joe Cirincione for Congress!

America needs an elected official in Washington whose sole focus is the most dangerous threat to the future of humanity.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could elect someone to the U.S. Congress who proudly declared themselves to be a single issue politician focused exclusively on nuclear weapons?

I can’t think of a better candidate for such an important role than Joe Cirincione.

As stated on his bio

Joe Cirincione has worked on nuclear weapons policy in Washington for over 35 years and is considered one of the top experts in the field.

Mr. Cirincione is currently serving as the President of the Ploughshares Fund, an organization which has for over 37 years financially supported the most effective people and organizations in the world to reduce and eventually eliminate the dangers posed by nuclear weapons.

However, Joe has recently announced his retirement from the Ploughshares Fund, so now is the time to send him to Congress where he can grab the media’s attention by talking about the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons every single day.

No elected official in Washington has such a single minded focus on the biggest threat to America, which is clearly insane. Joe could fix this!

Ok, so in full disclosure, so there are a few little problems with the campaign to elect Joe so far. For one thing, Joe hasn’t agreed to run for Congress because, um, he doesn’t yet know about this campaign. But hey, we can fix that!

Imagine Joe going to Congress, grabbing the nation’s attention, becoming President, and then saving the world from nuclear horror. And it all started right here on this one little page. I want an invitation to the Inaugural Ball!

So friends, if you don’t want to die in a nuclear holocaust, Vote Joe Cirincione for Congress!

Big Announcement: I’m Running For President!

Yes my fellow Americans, the moment you’ve long dreamed of is finally here. Today I announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States.

As you know, I didn’t want to run, but have been forced to by unfortunate events in the Democratic primaries.

The first thing that happened was that Senator Elizabeth Warren mentioned nuclear weapons one day in response to a question from a nosy reporter. As you’ll recall, I didn’t get upset, and let that one go. It was just one mention after all, which is I suppose an excusable mistake. And you know those gals, they say the darnest things sometimes, don’t they? And they’re so cute with their little “me too” parties and such.

But just when I thought the crisis had passed, Senator Bernie Sanders got sucked in by another one of those fakey news nosy reporter people and he mentioned the words “nuclear weapons” twice. Twice!

Look! See? There he is! Mentioning! Proof!

It then became clear that this was going to be a naughty words arms race that had to be stopped dead in it’s tracks before voters start focusing on the most awesome power of the Presidency.

So I took action, and publicly rebuked Senator Sanders for his loose tongue!

“Look Sanders”, I said, “WWII is over, and we won. The Japanese have stopped fighting and are now, um, making cars or something. So cut out all this talk about nuclear weapons! Two mentions! Enough already!”

He didn’t seem to get it, so I kept going. “The Cuban Missile Crisis is over too Sanders, and Kennedy fixed all that, so we can stop worrying about it.”

Now I’m worked up in to rage and I yelled at Sanders, “The cold war is over! The Russians gave up and went back to Russia or something! Get over it!!”

And no sooner do I launch my own campaign for the Presidency than yet another pesky little nosy reporter asked me this…

“If you are elected you may be called upon to incinerate millions of innocent people based on limited information and almost no warning. Are you prepared to do that?”

What is wrong with all these people??? So we have thousands of hydrogen bombs aimed down our own throats, and a single human being can end modern civilization with the press of a button.

So what? It’s been this way for awhile and nothing bad has happened, so nothing ever will. If we just forget about nuclear weapons they’ll go away, and everything will be fine.

So my fellow Americans, this is my pledge to you. From this moment forward I will no longer be mentioning nuclear weapons or the most awesome power of the Presidency like all those other candidates have done a time or two.

Vote for me so we can finally focus on Donald Trump’s orange hair and all those other silly little issues that don’t matter a single bit!!

Look at that hair! Impeach him! No more years!

Is Your Favorite Presidential Candidate Mentally Ill?

Here’s a medical procedure you can use to determine if someone is mentally ill. There’s not much to it really, just ask them this question.

Do you wish to be President of the United States?

If they answer yes, dial 911 immediately, as your patient is suffering from Nutzo Wacko Crackpot Delusions Of Grandeur Way Insane disease.

Seriously, imagine that you were applying for a job and at the interview they told you this…

As part of your duties, we may wake you up at 3am and call upon you to incinerate hundreds of millions of innocent people based on limited information and almost no warning. Are you prepared to do that?

If you’re sane, you immediately run screaming from the room, right?

But if you’re a wacko crackpot, you’d say something like, “Oh I could definitely perform that function for the company, no problem at all sir.

Shouldn’t we wonder just a wee little bit about the sanity of any person who spends years positioning themselves to get a job which could require them to launch a barrage of nuclear missiles at vast populations of innocents?

What kind of person looks themselves in the mirror in the morning and says, “Yep, I’d be good at that, I’m the right person for the job!!

Uh oh, wait, hang on a second. It gets worse. And here you thought that we were talking about somebody else.

What kind of person votes for somebody, anybody, running for President?

If we voters were sane, wouldn’t we choose the candidate whose platform pitch is…

No, no, no and no!!! There’s no way you’re going to get me to be President!!!!

As this primary season unfolds in the race for the Presidency most of us will dutifully enter the voting booth and pull a lever for somebody who wants to be the lucky one awoken at 3am by their National Security Advisor…

Mr. or Madam President! Wake up!! It’s time to push the button!

Ok everybody, smile for the group photo!

A Nuclear Weapons Congressional Candidate?

What if we could elect someone to the U.S. Congress who proudly declared themselves to be a single issue politician focused exclusively on nuclear weapons?

We can guess this would most likely be possible for a seat in the House of Representatives from a left leaning district. A candidate in such a district might make the following case to voters.

FOCUS THE POWER: Freshman members of the House have very little power. Thus, it makes sense to have the Representative focus all of their influence on a single important issue, such as the ever imminent existential threat to everything we hold dear, that is, nuclear weapons.

NO FUND RAISING: The candidate promises to spend none of their time in office raising money. This means the Representative will have a lot more time available, and voters will get every minute of it. It would also mean that when voters are ready to return to a multi-issue Representative the single issue candidate will not have a lock on the seat.

FEED THE MEDIA: Single issue candidates who proudly state they will work on no other issue will be interesting to the media, which will raise the Representatives profile and influence beyond that of the typical freshman Representative.

A HISTORIC VOTE: The candidate can impress upon voters that this is their opportunity to do something historic.

A UNITY ISSUE: The candidate can impress upon voters that nuclear weapons are a topic which has the potential to transcend partisan divides and unite the country.

Ignore Trump And Embrace His Base

The nuclear weapons activist community seems not to grasp one simple political fact.

America is never going to disarm until most people on both sides of the political divide agree that should happen.

Given this reality, as activists we face the challenge of doing everything we can to heal partisan divides and bring the country together. For we liberals, such a process will necessarily involve reaching out to Trump’s base, offering them respect, and acknowledging those cases where they are making a reasonable point. We might start with something like this…

Ignore Trump

Corporate media is going to cover every utterance of the Trump administration because their business model requires them to focus on melodrama to build audience and ad revenues. Trump gets this. Maybe we don’t.

The media is on the job, we don’t need to help them make Trump even more famous, which is exactly what Trump wants us to do.

If we’re talking privately with a swing voter who might be persuaded to abandon Trump, ok, make the case. But blasting out snarky partisan slogans on Twitter to followers who already agree with us accomplishes nothing other than deepening the divide that must be healed if we are ever to disarm.

Trump wants us to talk about him all day long every day. If we oppose Trump, we should do the opposite of what he wants and ignore him.

Embrace Trump’s Base

One day Trump will be gone, but his base will remain. Nuclear weapons activists will need these folks, so let’s show them some respect by being open minded to some of their perspectives. Here’s a few examples to illustrate the point.

Immigration: The population of America has doubled in my lifetime. It’s not unreasonable for citizens to wonder how far we’re going to go in that direction. It’s not unreasonable for them to reject a political class that can’t even ask that question, let alone come up with any kind of coherent answer.

Abortion: Many evangelicals voted for Trump out of deep concerns about abortion. Whatever our point of view might be on this never ending controversy, can we at least agree that it’s not unreasonable to be concerned about the mass killing of unborn children?

Religious Freedom: Some religious people feel under assault by secular culture and so they vote for people whom they feel will represent their views. There’s a name for this procedure. It’s called democracy. Everybody votes in their own interest. Not unreasonable.

Iran: Why are we not talking about a nuclear weapons deal with Iraq? Saddam Hussein is dead. Problem solved.

It’s not unreasonable for some of us to feel that a maximum pressure campaign which bankrupts an Iranian regime which routinely shoots it’s own citizens down in the streets might be a strategy worth giving a try.

The Genius: Some voters feel that Trump is a political genius. This is not such an unreasonable claim given that Trump came from basically nowhere to defeat every political “expert” in every party to take the highest office in land.

A Liberal Reaches Out

Ok, so in full disclosure, I’m Bernie Sanders type liberal who will never vote for Trump in any circumstance.

But being a liberal doesn’t automatically equal me always being being right about everything. Being a liberal doesn’t mean I can never learn anything from anybody unless they already agree with me. Being a liberal doesn’t make me morally superior to those who, out of sincere conviction and authentic patriotism, pull a different lever than I do in the voting booth.

Dear nuclear weapons experts and activists on Twitter….

Please focus on the fact that we need Trump voters if America is ever to disarm. Tweeting something snarky about Trump every day, to followers who already agree with you, does not advance the cause of nuclear disarmament. You mean well, but you haven’t thought it through.

Whether we are liberal or conservative, we need each other. And if we don’t find a way to come together, we’re all going to die together on the same day.

The Nature Of Power

Nuclear disarmament would be a decision made by a relatively small number of people at the top of the political power structures in each of the nuclear weapons states. This is particularly true in those countries where democracy is weak or non-existent.

As example, we aren’t negotiating nuclear issues with Iran, a country of 80 million people, but rather with a small handful of leaders at the top of the Iranian regime. That’s who will decide, the few, not the many.

The Good Guys

My thoughts were drawn to these obvious facts after the Democratic Presidential debate that happened just before the Iowa caucuses, the first votes to be cast in this year’s Presidential contest.

Right after that debate there were Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two of my favorite politicians, on the stage squabbling in front of an open mike about who called who a liar on national TV.

Here’s what could have happened instead.

Sanders and Warren could have used that event to announce that they were merging their campaigns, a move that would have likely won their ticket the Democratic nomination before the first primary vote was cast. Thus united, they could have quickly gathered the Democratic Party behind them, and shifted the focus away from Democrats fighting Democrats, to Democrats fighting Trump.

But that didn’t happen. Even with my favorite politicians. Instead of unity and a march to victory, Sanders and Warren are still focused on which one of them should get the top job, even though the policies they each are arguing for are very similar, certainly within reach of a compromise.

In my mind, Sanders and Warren are examples of two sincere well intentioned politicians who both envision a progressive political revolution. And yet, even they can’t seem to shift their focus from what would be good for them to what would be good for the country. Even they can’t seem to emerge from the same old power game we’ve all seen a million times.

The Big Guys

But this post isn’t really about Sanders and Warren or the ongoing Presidential campaign, but rather about the nature of power and those who seek it.

Here in the United States the power game election season is loud, long, looney and laughable. If Sanders or Warren loses this election they can just try again, or vanish in to a dignified well funded retirement.

But in other nuclear weapons states the power game is a ruthless fight to the death. If you play and lose the power game in Iran, Russia, China or North Korea you can easily wind up in prison or your grave. In these societies getting to the top is high stakes poker, with every one of your chips on the table.

In America, what kind of person wants power so bad that they are willing to run for President around the clock for years?

In the dictatorships, what kind of person wants power so bad that they are willing to put everything on the line, their family, their fortune, their life?

I’m not a psychiatrist, so I’ll offer no theories about what’s going on in the hearts and souls of those who want power so badly.

But that is who we must persuade to give up nuclear weapons, the tiny few at the very top whose entire lives revolve around the need for power.

What About Trump? What About Obama?

Getting rid of nuclear weapons will require a broad consensus of the public. This political reality has implications for how we pursue nuclear weapons activism.

No politician or political party will be able to take a step as large as getting rid of nuclear weapons on their own. If one party were to pass a no nukes law on a party line vote against the objections of the other party, the other party would simply undo the law the next time they were in power. Real sustainable change in our nuclear weapons policy will require broad agreement across the political spectrum.

What this means for nuclear weapons activists is that, whatever our own personal political leanings might be, we need to take care not to alienate those who lean in another direction. Whatever side of the aisle we call home, we’re going to need those on the other side to get rid of nuclear weapons.

The Gun In Our Mouth

The following example may illustrate why taking the usual partisan political shots at those in another party is not a serious act of nuclear weapons activism.

Imagine for a moment that I show up at your home for Thanksgiving dinner with a loaded gun in my mouth. I’m sure you’ll agree that this would not be an appropriate moment to have a debate about gun control laws, the 2nd amendment to the Constitution, the NRA, or those groups which oppose the NRA. In such a situation the proper focus would of course instead be to get the gun out of my mouth as soon as possible.

I’ve offered the above example because nuclear weapons are a gun in the mouth of our entire civilization. And so, just as in the example above, it isn’t appropriate or useful to apply our usual patterns of partisan political squabbling to an existential crisis which threatens all of us equally.

What Is The Appropriate Approach For Nuclear Weapons Activists?

Nuclear weapons activists should focus on the nuclear weapons threat, and not any politician or political party.

So for example, if someone, or someone else, proposes spending tons of money to update the nuclear arsenal so that it will last another century, we can and should oppose such a proposal. But we should oppose such proposals without demonizing whoever made the proposal.

Yes, demonizing one’s opponents is a time honored tradition that goes all the way back to the founding of America. Such political conflict is routine and normal.

But nuclear weapons are not a normal issue. They aren’t just one more topic we can take to cable news and the Internet to squabble about. Nuclear weapons are instead a hair trigger loaded gun in the mouth of everyone on every side in every party.

No single person or political party will be able to remove the nuclear gun on their own. We either do it together, or it doesn’t get done. And in that case, everyone in every party loses. The only way any of us win on this issue is if we come together, while there is still time.

So What About Trump?

And what about the Democratic candidates for the Presidency?

Well, when it comes to nuclear weapons, all of the above seem more or less the same. None of our political leaders seem to express much interest in nuclear weapons, and to my knowledge (correct me if I’m wrong here) none have called for their elimination.

While this state of affairs is very unfortunate, it comes with the silver lining of making it easier for nuclear weapons activists to address our message in a non-partisan manner to everyone in every political party.

The Mysteriously Missing Candidates

As of this writing, we’re diving ever deeper in to one of our seemingly endless Presidential campaigns here in the United States. Thousands of journalists are following the campaigns around the country every day as each journalist tries to ask “The Big Question” that will put their career in the spotlight, thus boosting their network’s audience and ad revenue profits. It’s a madcap frenzied round the clock coverage 500 channel blab fest, with no utterance from the candidates too small to breathlessly report.

And yet, to my knowledge, no journalist has yet asked any candidate for the Presidency a question like this…

Dear candidate, if you are elected to the Presidency you may be called upon to incinerate hundreds of millions of people based on limited information and almost no warning. Are you prepared to do that?

Here in the world’s oldest democracy we are engaged in an electoral process which will select a single human being who will be given the power to, on their sole authority, destroy modern civilization in just a few minutes.

You know, a single human being, with sole authority to end the world. Maybe somebody like this for example.

And yet, we can’t be bothered to discuss this most awesome power of the Presidency, not even in a Presidential campaign. Huh? What? Seriously?

Yup, sorry, seriously. The candidates rarely if ever bring the subject of nuclear weapons up. The professional journalists don’t either. Academics and scientists are typically hopelessly distracted by a million smaller subjects. And we the American voting public consider this mysterious silence of our cultural elites, even in the middle of a heated Presidential campaign, to be completely normal. If we think about it at all. Which, um, we so rarely do.

If you’re not an American, and you find the marriage of our determined blindness and Biblical scale power to be terrifying, well, thank God there’s somebody sane out there!

What we can learn from observing this Presidential campaign is that our cultural elites, whether they be politicians, journalists, academics, scientists or others, are not capable of successfully managing nuclear weapons forever. As a group, they can’t even focus on the subject, not even in a Presidential campaign.

An even less convenient lesson is that we the average man-in-the-street citizens of the United States are also largely silent on the most awesome power of the U.S. Presidency. We will probably proudly vote for one of the candidates, even if our favorite candidate never addresses the subject of nuclear weapons even once.

What a clear eyed observation of this Presidential campaign can teach us is that human beings in general, all of us, no matter how intelligent, well educated or accomplished we may be, are simply not mature and rational enough to be in possession of civilization ending weapons.