Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Spaced Out

What was the call?

"A new pitch from Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee" by Jim O’Sullivan Globe Staff  August 18, 2016

GREENSBORO, Vt. — Bill Lee — whose talent as a left-handed pitcher for the Red Sox and Expos is remembered less than the eccentricity that earned him the nickname “Spaceman” — has not yet embarked on a traditional gubernatorial campaign. It seems unlikely he will.

Which is not to say he’s not running. Ask the Liberty Union 2016 gubernatorial nominee — the self-described “left wing of the left wing” — if he is not only really running, but truly wants the job, and he responds with profane enthusiasm for both.

Candidate Lee is also about to benefit from the type of publicity most third-party candidates never enjoy. For now, the foreign substance is politics. The Liberty Union Party bills itself as “nonviolent socialist,” and Lee is a committed environmentalist and resolutely pro-labor. Since, Lee has traveled a characteristically eclectic road.

He has made and sold bats from a sawmill near his home. He has his own wine label. He barnstorms Cuban boys to the United States and Canada on baseball tours, and American kids to Cuba, a cross-cultural mission that blends perfectly with his post-borders worldview. He still plays ball regularly.

Time to bring in the closer.

“He’s just an unbelievable competitor. He’s 69 and he loves the game and he wants to win,” said Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, Lee’s batterymate on the Burlington Cardinals. Lee threw a complete-game win last Sunday, with temperatures in the high 80s and “incredible humidity.”

On a recent weekday, Lee awakened from a nap, after an earlier lake swim and a beer. The phone rang, his friend the sports radio host Mikey Adams calling with news of a former teammate’s death (“I didn’t think he’d make it past 59 the way he drank”) and, then, a radio station dialing for his weekly spot (“I’ll get a beer,” he said, waiting to go on air).

To spend a day with Lee is to swim educationally through the culture of the last half century.

Lee’s current platform is in favor of clean water.

Who isn't?

He’s for fewer borders, hoping to erase the one between Quebec and Vermont (“We stole 300 yards from Canada. . . . People don’t know that”).

His ideology runs toward hippie-populism, with a strain of engaging irony. “I am not a capitalist, no. I’m a poor black farmboy,” says Lee, who is white.

The Green Mountain State sets low ballot-access thresholds, and voters do not register in political parties. A 2014 gubernatorial debate became an Internet sensation with its contrast between more traditional, well-coiffed candidates and those in thick beards, overalls, and gaudy hats.

“In most states, the electoral mechanism is much more controlled and restrained,” said University of Vermont political scientist Garrison Nelson. “Not so in Vermont.”

The state’s omnivorous electoral palate notwithstanding, political watchers are not optimistic about Lee’s chances.

“Let me put it this way, his earned run average was higher than his electoral percentage is going to be,” said Nelson, referring to Lee’s career ERA of 3.62.

The major-party candidates are Democratic former transportation secretary Sue Minter and Republican Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott.

Weinberger, a Democrat, noted that his teammate has not undertaken traditional campaigning and called it “extraordinarily difficult for any candidate in this modern era without the backing of the major parties to become governor.”

Lee appears content with his lot. He is fascinated by a hummingbird in the backyard, where, later, Diana will serve locally sourced tacos carnitas with Spaceman wine. He taps maple trees in the surrounding woods, recounts failed marriages, cheerfully diagnoses the presidential campaign as “trying to pick the lesser of two evils, and you’re going to pick evil.”

For the Spaceman, who said he decided to lead the Liberty Union ticket only after returning home from a party confab and consulting Plato, politics is less an obsession than the latest pursuit in life....


Time to go into orbit.... 

See: Chasing a Dream

Just keeping it alive....

"Bernie Sanders, with an eye toward energizing working-class and young voters to support his former rival, Hillary Clinton, said Friday, ‘‘I feel very strongly that Donald Trump would be a disaster for the country. I want to do everything I can to see that Secretary Clinton wins.’’ Sanders said that during some of those visits he will also campaign on behalf of Democratic Senate candidates, including Katie McGinty in Pennsylvania, Ted Strickland in Ohio, and Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire. He is also planning to campaign for other liberal down-ballot candidates, he said. Sanders said he plans to hold large-scale rallies, which were a staple of his campaign, drawing from both his and Clinton’s lists of supporters. ‘‘I think we can create large turnouts,’’ he said." 

The question is for whom?

"In Vt., Bernie Sanders backers still deal with agony of defeat" by Akilah Johnson Globe Staff  August 15, 2016

BURLINGTON, Vt. — The Democratic National Convention is over. Hillary Clinton is the party’s nominee and Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has officially come to an end.

Still, some of Sanders’ supporters from the insurgent campaign are holding on, not yet ready to fully embrace Clinton. Instead, many Sanders supporters in his home state, a liberal bastion, are considering their options.

One says “Jill Stein, but if close would vote for Hillary,” while another pwogwessive says “Clinton.”

Despite this, political analysts in Vermont say there’s little reason to think that Clinton won’t carry the state, which the Democrat in every presidential election has won since 1988.

A poll last month from Vermont Public Radio and the Castleton Polling Institute showed 39 percent of Vermonters plan to vote for Clinton, 17 percent for Trump, and 26 percent for “someone else.” It’s unclear who that someone else would be: Stein, the Green Party’s presidential nominee, didn’t register in the poll, receiving 0 percent, and the Libertarian Party’s nominee, Gary Johnson, received 5 percent.

Eric Davis, professor emeritus of political science at Middlebury College, said he thinks there’s a chance for third-party candidates to make headway in Vermont, though not enough to keep Clinton from winning the state.

“I truly believe that Hillary should be in jail,” said Gwen Heaghney, 23, of Burlington. “I would much rather vote for Jill Stein.”

Me, too, only because I've come to believe that we need a Jewish president to confront the Zionist Lobby. It's sort of a least of the evils way of thinking.

And then there are those like Brett Powers, who are still deciding. Standing behind the counter of Computers for Change, a technology store that donates computers to local organizations, Powers, 34, said choosing between Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump feels like “voting for the lesser of two evils.”

Powers said he will probably make a “snap decision” in the voting booth or simply won’t vote.

Vanessa Berman said she certainly understands why Sanders’ supporters, of which she counts herself one, are “very antiestablishment and anti-Hillary.” But the 36-year-old Burlington resident said electing Clinton president is “an incredible opportunity for this country. She done a lot for children, for poverty, for health care, for education — all of the things that are important to me.”

“The alternative,” she said, “is not even something that I can even think about.”

That was the general theme Wednesday morning at the state party’s Unity Rally, held the day after the statewide primary. The focus was on unifying state and local politicians but calls for national party unification to keep Trump out of the White House crept into speech after speech. 

That's the general theme of the Globe on a daily basis.

“It’s going to be a unified party,” US Senator Patrick Leahy said to rousing applause. “Together we can win.”

And while Sanders wasn’t present, his presence was with party officials and candidates — and even Carter, who addressed the crowd at the lobby of a waterfront office building — invoking his name and his candidacy.

David Zuckerman, who won the lieutenant governor primary on Tuesday, was endorsed by Sanders, a man he considers a role model. When asked after the rally if he was following Sanders’ lead and voting for Clinton, Zuckerman said: “I really respect Senator Sanders, and I feel the same way: None of us are going to tell other people how they are supposed to vote.”

But about Clinton?

“I do intend to vote for her,” he said, after being asked two more times....


I guess Vermont goes blue on the electoral map.