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Veterans For Peace will have members protesting at both the Republican National Convention in Tampa and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. VFP President Leah Bolger explained why:
"Social change, including the abolition of war, does not come from supporting one political party over another, but from changing the culture and influencing all major parties. Women did not vote themselves the right to vote. The civil rights movement did not trade in nonviolent action, education, and mobilization for electoral campaigns. The labor movement was not built by what the labor movement spends its money on today. And when our grandparents passed the Kellogg-Briand Pact banning war, they did so by placing the criminalization of war in the platforms of the four largest parties in the country.
"A peace movement that only opposes wars when the president belongs to one party is not a peace movement. It's a partisan campaign that uses the pretended desire for peace as bait and activists as props. What we need far more than campaigning is movement building. We need to organize people to bring our popular demands to the government as a whole. The government is no longer divided into the three traditional branches. The two branches are the two major parties. Congress members and even Supreme Court Justices are loyal to their parties. We must demand that both parties adopt platforms for peace. Our economy cannot withstand further war preparation any more than our consciences can bear the consequences.
By Dave Lindorff
If you want to know how moribund the Democratic Party is, how completely owned by Wall Street the president is, and how sick our national politics have become, just consider Social Security.
By John Grant
When we talk about
settling the world’s problems,
we’re barking up the wrong tree.
The world is perfect. It’s a mess.
It has always been a mess.
This week Mitt Romney picked a possible Vice President who believes peoples' rights are "derived from God;" abortion doctors should be prosecuted, while zygotes have "personhood;" and the public sector of government should be destroyed.
All of which is feeding the addiction — including of some people I work shoulder to shoulder with and respect — to the lesser of two evils. What's up with that addiction? Can it be overcome? Stay tuned as we focus on that problem, among others.
By Dave Lindorff
We’ve all heard it said by our teachers when we were in school, we’ve all heard it said by politicians, including presidents: “Democracies don’t start wars.”
According to the Huffington Post, "President Barack Obama's reelection campaign and Democratic political groups have been eager for Romney to pick Ryan, the architect of plans to slash government spending and overhaul entitlement programs that Democrats believe are political losers." ABC agrees: "The selection of Ryan as running mate makes it far more likely that Medicare, Social Security, and dramatic spending cuts will be as central to the campaign conversation this fall as jobs and the economy. Adding some of those famed political third rails into the mix is not just a potential risk Romney is willing to take, it is also clearly a potential risk he felt he had to take."
So, cutting Medicare and Social Security are unpopular, and Obama benefits from Romney's risky move in picking a runningmate willing to cut them. That's the story.
Now, however, read this from the New York Times: "The news media have played a crucial role in Mr. Obama’s career, helping to make him a national star not long after he had been an anonymous state legislator. As president, however, he has come to believe the news media have had a role in frustrating his ambitions to change the terms of the country’s political discussion. He particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in and , while Republicans oppose almost any tax increase to reduce the deficit."
So Obama too is willing to take the political risk of cutting the popular programs called Medicare and Social Security. In fact, what Obama wants is not to protect these programs from cuts, but rather to receive appropriate credit from the media corporations for his willingness to cut them. This, we are about to be told endlessly, is in stark contrast to Romney-Ryan's willingness to cut Medicare and Social Security. But the biggest contrast seems to be that the media gives Romney and Ryan the credit that Obama covets.
Oh no, Obama supporters will reply, there's a big difference. Romney wants to cut these programs, while Obama is willing to cut them. Romney is evil, while Obama is noble and gracious in his appeasing of evil. I'm sorry, but won't the catfood that grandma lives on taste as bitter regardless of whether her income was removed maliciously or accommodatingly?
Oh, but Romney-and-Ryan want to cut more than Obama wants to cut.
Are you sure? RR need only triple their demand for Obama to double his. The longer the debate goes on, the more old people Obama wants to starve to demonstrate his willingness to accommodate. In fact, exactly how many old people starve -- whether Iranians living under sanctions or Americans living under austerity -- is hardly relevant. The important thing is to have gone further toward meeting RR's demand than RR went toward meeting yours.
But what about the demand of the majority of the country that Social Security and Medicare be expanded rather than cut? What about the popularity of lifting the cap on payroll taxes, lowering the retirement age, and expanding Medicare to include us all? Will that agenda be advanced by cheering for a compromiser over an unapologetic crapitalist?
Of course not. What would move both of these reprehensible candidates away from deeper cuts to decent programs, and toward deeper cuts in the war machine, the fossil fuel funding, the bankster bailouts, and the "Bush" tax cuts is an independent movement that makes its minimum demand an absolute bar on any cuts to Social Security or Medicare whatsoever.
If you don't soon see progressive groups advancing that demand, expect bad times ahead, regardless of who wins the world's worst reality drama.
By Linn Washington
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, the same conservative Republican who recently cut 70,000 from receiving their meager welfare payments in order to cut government costs, is ready to spend millions of bucks to implement a voter suppression scheme that evidence indicates is a blatant partisan measure designed to help Mitt Romney gain a presidential election victory.
Chavez Riding High in Polls
by Stephen Lendman
Bolivarianism remains overwhelmingly popular. So is Chavez. He heads the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).
In 1999, he transformed the nation into a Bolivarian republic. It's based on "solidarity, fraternity, love, justice, liberty and equality."
PRI Regains Mexican Presidency
by Stephen Lendman
Like its northern neighbor, wealth and power dominate Mexican politics. Elections are notoriously tainted. Populist candidates are excluded. The late John Ross said Mexico perfected the art of electoral theft.
Today, voters in Mexico head to the polls in a presidential election that has been shaken up in the last few weeks by student-led protests that are challenging the front-runner status of Enrique Peña Nieto. A victory for Peña Nieto, the candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, would mark a return to the executive office by the political party that dominated Mexican politics for more than 70 years. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the former mayor of Mexico City and candidate in 2006, is also running and, according to polls, is considered the second place contender.
For more, we’re joined by FSRN reporter Shannon Young. She’s been following the race and joins us from Oaxaca.
Listen to FSRN's interview here.
FROM: David Swanson, Medea Benjamin, Leah Bolger, Bruce Gagnon, Chris Hedges, George Martin and Kevin Zeese
Dear Friends in the Peace Movement,
We can't afford to let this opportunity slip by. By taking action over the next five days the peace community has a chance to inject a compelling and courageous peace advocate into the 2012 presidential campaign, to have a voice in the national debate over war, militarism, and military spending.
You know what is going to happen if we leave this election up to the two major party candidates. President Obama will defend his troop surges, his excessive Pentagon budgets, his preparations for war with Iran, his escalation of the drone wars, his crackdowns on whistleblowers, his indefinite detention policy, and his new role as manager of the White House assassination list. Mitt Romney will not question these policies, but will promise to pursue them with even more enthusiasm. In debates and interviews, the American people will have the Big Lie drilled into their consciousness: that our nation must accept escalating military engagement and must visit worldwide violence against all who defy the U.S. government.
Jill Stein stands ready to challenge the Big Lie. Jill Stein, a physician from Massachusetts, who has been a national board member of Physicians for Social Responsibility, has just won 29 state primaries to secure the presidential nomination of the Green Party. She is putting some badly needed fundamentals for peace on the table:
Cut the Pentagon budget by 50%. Halt the drone wars. Pardon the whistleblowers. Restore our civil liberties. Make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone. She is driving home the point that the Obama/Romney fascination with war and violence is dangerous for our nation and the world. We need to make sure she is heard.
Jill Stein is closing in on federal matching funds that would double the value of donations to her campaign. Because she doesn't receive big checks from Pentagon contractors and their lobbyists, public funding is essential to her campaign. She needs to raise about $24,000 by midnight on June 30th so that she can apply for matching funds.
That's not much money to ask of a national peace movement. We can do it. And the payoff for peace will be tremendous.
So we urge you do two things. First, go to Jill Stein's website: http://www.jillstein.org/
Thank you for helping us open up a dialogue for peace.
David Swanson, author of War is a Lie and also of Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial President and Forming a More Perfect Union
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK
Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and senior fellow at the Nation Institute
Leah Bolger, retired naval commander and current president of Veterans for Peace
George Martin, three term national co-chair of United for Peace & Justice
Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.
Kevin Zeese, executive director of Voters for Peace
* organizational affiliations listed for identification purposes only
PS. While all donations are valuable, Jill Stein especially needs donations from the following key states to help her reach the required $5000 per state threshold. If you know anyone in these states, please ask them to make a donation of up to $250: AZ, CO, CT, DC, FL, ME, MI, MO, NC, NM, OH, OR, SC, TN and VA. Read all the nitty gritty details and updates here: http://www.jillstein.
With seven days remaining, Oregon has leapt forward and many other states have advanced in our matching funds push to Double Your Green. Oregon joins New Mexico at the 3/4 mark, and a dozen other states are closing in.
If you haven't seen yesterday's important message about what you can do, please click here to check it out. And on Tuesday we sent an update about our Illinois ballot drive, giving you an example of what doubling our money will accomplish.
Please click here to donate. The latest map and matching funds numbers in our priority states are as follows:
We've identified 15 priority states for our Double Your Green campaign: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. We need your help to put these 15 states over the top. Eleven states have already qualified.
|15 Priority States||Qualifying Donations as of 6/22||Increase since 6/21|
|OR||$ 3,923.00||$ 800.00|
|NM||$ 3,745.10||$ 20.00|
|MI||$ 3,083.60||$ 100.00|
|VA||$ 3,075.35||$ 125.00|
|NC||$ 3,068.00||$ 250.00|
|OH||$ 2,913.02||$ 100.00|
|CT||$ 2,287.12||$ 100.00|
|AZ||$ 2,145.50||$ 85.00|
|FL||$ 2,093.95||$ 35.00|
|DC||$ 1,949.55||$ 20.00|
|MO||$ 1,335.00||$ 10.00|
|TN||$ 1,298.00||$ 250.00|
|SC||$ 844.12||$ 30.00|
We've already qualified in California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennylvania, Washington, Wisconsin and new state Texas!
3/4 of the way there: New states New Mexico and Oregon!
Halfway there: Arizona, D.C., Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia!
1/4 of the way there: Indiana, Missouri, Maine, South Carolina and Tennessee, and new state Georgia!
Most of the states that are currently in the lead are there because they have actively raised funds for the campaign. They've held house parties. They've sent out fundraising appeals. That's all it takes.
It's not hard. And there is a real urgency to putting your state over the top:
- We need matching funds so that we can get on the ballot across the country. The average ballot access campaign costs $2000 to $5000 to run. The toughest states will cost many times that.
- Every day that goes by without the Green alternative on the ballot is another day of fake debate between Wall Street and Wall Street Lite.
- It will take weeks for the Federal Election Commission to process our matching funds application. Every delay could result in missing a ballot access opportunity in a new state.
- June 30th is the deadline. It's that simple.
Please take an immediate step by making a donation: http://www.
Please take an immediate step by making a donation: http://www.
Authorized and paid for by Jill Stein for President
PO Box 260217, Madison, WI 53726-0217
By Michael Collins
One goal of Egypt's 2010 union inspired Tahrir Square protests was fulfilled during the December, 2011 parliamentary elections. Nearly 65% of the nation's fifty million eligible voters turned out to vote. Turnout for the June 16 and 17, 2012 presidential election dropped to an estimated 15%* according to local and press observers. What happened?
Three factors contributed to the exponential decline in voting. Egypt's courts took leading candidates off of the final presidential ballot. The disappeared candidates had the support of 68% of the electorate according to a major preelection poll in early May. Egyptian courts also disqualified one third of the recently elected parliament. Just a day before the election, military commander Mohamed Hussein Tantawi announced that the constitution had been annexed. This was a nice way of saying that the military was assuming most of the powers of the presidency, leaving the newly elected chief executive with little to do.
Fraud at the Polls
by Stephen Lendman
At age 25, Orson Welles co-wrote, produced, directed, and starred in Citizen Kane. It looks critically at the life and times of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.
By Charles M. Young
Between college and graduate school, I worked for a year in a factory in Verona, Wisconsin, which is a few miles and a paradigm shift outside of Madison. It wasn’t the worst place to work. We had a union. We had benefits. We chopped, folded and riveted large sheets of metal and turned them into the air diffusers that you can see in the ceilings of theaters and other large buildings.
Walker Wins, Wisconsinites Lose
by Stephen Lendman
Morning headlines read more like obituaries than reason for anyone to celebrate. Despite pre-election polls suggesting either candidate could win, odds greatly favored Republican Scott Walker.
By Jonathan Simon:
What we got tonight in Wisconsin was the same old stench, coming from the same old corner of the room. To wit, there was a huge turnout (highly favorable to the Democratic candidate Barrett), in fact they're /still /waiting in line to vote in Milwaukee and elsewhere nearly two hours after poll closing; and the immediate post-closing Exit Polls had it a dead heat, 50%-50%. But the only place those polls were posted was as a Bar Chart in the /Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/. /Not a single network/ posted any Exit Poll numbers, though they all have been regularly posting them throughout the 2012 primary season within a few minutes of poll closing. But they all called the race "extremely tight," since they were looking at the same 50%-50% Exit Poll that the /Journal Sentinel/ at least had the courage to post in some format. In short order, and quite predictably, the race was Walker's, the networks anointing him the winner as the Exit Poll "Adjustment" Process played out. You could actually see it on the /Journal Sentinel's/ Bar Chart: the blue bars shrinking and the red bars lengthening every 20 minutes or so. It will take a bit of visual measuring but the adjustment process was egregious, on the order of an 8-10% marginal disparity between the Unadjusted Exit Polls and the Adjusted Exit Polls congruent to the eventually-to-be-announced "official results."
We've seen this before, election after election, the familiar "Red Shift." And it's the Exit Polls that are always "off," because the Votecounts must always be "on." Except that the Votecounts are secret and in the full control of outfits, with strong right-wing affiliations, like Dominion Voting and Command Central. Votes counted by partisans in complete secret--is this sane? Today massive robocalls were reported to have been placed to targeted Barrett supporters, telling them they didn't have to vote if they had signed the recall petition, and others that they couldn't vote if they hadn't voted in 2010. An obvious question: is there a bright ethical line between making (whoever actually made them) targeted robocalls telling your opponents' supporters they don't have to vote if they signed the recall petition versus setting the zero-counters on a bunch of memory cards to, say, +50 (for Walker) and -50 (for Barrett) so at the end of the day the election admin sees a "clean" election and you've shifted 100 votes per precinct? Do you believe that operators who have clearly not blanched at doing the first would for some reason blanch at doing the second--much neater and more efficacious as it is?
And if you're thinking "well the pre-election polls predicted a Walker win," you should know that the methodology for all of those polls, even the ones run by left-leaning outfits, was the Likely Voter Cutoff Model (google it, by all means), which disproportionately eliminates Democratic voters (students, renters, poor, minority) from the sample and so skews it conveniently anywhere from 5% to 10% to the right (the pollsters all would have been out of business by now if they had kept using a /sound/ methodology and getting competitive elections wrong with it). This election was dubbed "the second most important election of 2012;" it will "foretell" November just as the Massachusetts Special Senate Election (Coakley-Brown) "foretold" November 2010. And there was a massive red shift and even more than the usual indicators that it was rigged. Can anyone live with that, just give it a pass, and sleep tonight?
Here's the latest: The race for 2nd place -- between Norman and Republican Dan Roberts -- is extremely close. We will have greater clarity by Friday. This is not unusual in California elections nowadays, due to the large number of votes-by-mail. Tens of thousands of vote-by-mail ballots have not been counted -- including many from Marin and Sonoma counties, Democratic Party strongholds.
At this point, with 12 candidates in the race, Republican Roberts is at 15.3% and Norman is at 14.2%. They are separated by only 1,379 votes, after numbers trended in our direction all night. (At the beginning of vote-counting, Roberts was 4% ahead of Norman; the gap has shrunk to 1.1%.)
Democrat Jared Huffman is in first with 37%. Roberts and Norman are fighting for 2nd in this top-two primary at roughly 15%, and Democrat Stacey Lawson is in 4th place with about 10%.
This is NOT a recount. The original vote count is simply not finished, and second place is too close to call. We are monitoring the counting of the votes-by-mail in various counties.
I am so proud of what we have achieved. Our campaign has inspired progressive activists and leaders nationwide.
We pledge to fight on until every vote is counted. As we get new numbers, we will keep you posted.
I want to thank everyone for waging one of the strongest grassroots campaigns for Congress anywhere in the country.
By Dave Lindorff
There will be all kinds of dancing around the issue of why progressives lost the recall campaign against union-busting Tea Party Republican Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin on Tuesday, with the Obama campaign trying to claim that it was not a reflection on him or his popularity, the Democratic Party saying it was not their battle, and the labor movement, sadly, blaming it all on right-wing money. They’ll all be saying that it doesn’t matter, and that the important thing is to focus on helping Democrats win in November.
"It was a great demonstration of democracy, whether you agree or disagree with the outcome," Huffington Post's political reporter Howard Fineman told Ed Schultz on MSNBC late tonight, while discussing the results of the historic Wisconsin recall elections.
Fineman's comment is either accurate or it is not. Just as the results reported by the computers across the Badger State are either accurate or not. Who knows? Nobody in WI does, and that's exactly the problem.
The early Exit Poll results had reportedly predicted the race between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett a virtual tie, leading media to plan for a long night tonight. A second round of Exit Polls results, however, were said to have given Walker a broader lead over Barrett. Even so, we were told, the race based on the Exit Poll data alone was still "too close to call." That data was either accurate or it was not.
Of course, the raw, unadjusted Exit Polling data itself is no longer entrusted to us mere mortals. It can only be seen by members of the mainstream media, and we are simply left to trust them to report it all accurately to us or not. And when, after all, have we not been able to rely on the mainstream media to report everything accurately to us?
But never mind the Exit Polls. We've got real polls, real votes, actual ballots now to tell us who won or lost. If only we'd bother to actually count them...
Instead, those ballots --- Wisconsin votes on mostly paper ballots --- are tabulated by computer optical-scan systems like the ones in Palm Beach County, FL which, in March of this year, had named several losing candidates to be the "winners". And like the ones in New York City which, in 2010, managed to toss out thousands of valid votes, including as many as 70% in one South Bronx precinct. And like the ones in Oakland County, Michigan where officials found the same machines failed to count the same ballots the same way twice in 2008. And like the ones in Leon County, FL which, in 2005, were hacked to entirely flip the results of a mock election.
In Palm Beach County, FL the failure was discovered during a state mandated post-election spot-check of 2% of the paper ballots. In New York City, it took nearly two years before the failures were discovered after the New York Daily News was able to examine the paper ballots via a public records request. In Oakland County, MI, election officials were lucky enough to discover the failure during pre-election testing. And in Leon County, FL, the hacker --- a computer security expert --- revealed the op-scan system flaw he exploited to flip the results of the election in an Emmy-nominated HBO documentary.
In all cases, it was only a hand-examination of the paper ballots that revealed the mistabulations by the op-scanners.
In Wisconsin, no such hand-examination is done --- not without both a recount request and an order from a judge. They simply do not do manual, post-election spot-checks of ballots in WI, other than for Presidential elections, and even then it is only done months after the election has concluded. So there is no way to know if the results reported by the computers reflect what the actual ballots say in Wisconsin.
The numbers used to certify their elections are based entirely on whatever the computers report the results to be. Those results, therefore, are either accurate or they are not.
So, the Exit Polls, the mainstream media's account of them, and the results themselves in Wisconsin are either accurate or not. The results tonight, according to the Associated Press with 99%of precincts reporting, show Walker winning his recall election by a full 7 points over Barrett.
Similarly, Walker's Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch is said to have won her recall challenge by 6 points, and three of the four Republican state Senators up for recall reportedly won by either similar or greater margins.
The other state Senate race, between Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard and his Democratic challenger John Lehman, is still being reported as "too close to call" with just 75% of precincts in and an almost 3,000 vote margin reported at this hour (approximately 11:06pm PT).
If Lehman wins, it will be the first time in history that a recall flips the majority party in a state legislature. As is, it's the first time in history that a Governor has survived a recall election.
County-by-county results, at least for the gubernatorial race, can be perused very generally here at Huffington Post. Unfortunately, the state of Wisconsin does not report results for the entire state at any central location, so tracking results and watching for anomalies in each of its 72 counties and thousands of municipalities is exceptionally difficult for both Election Integrity folks and even regular old citizen voters simply trying to oversee their own elections.
The networks, including both MSNBC and Fox, called the Governor's race for Walker within an hour after most of the polls had closed, with just 21% of the 100% unverified computer-reported results in, and even as voters in three counties were still said to be voting, thanks to long lines all day and night, as well as ballots and registration forms running out at a number of locations across the state.
In 2000, when the broadcast news networks initially called the Presidential race for Al Gore in Florida while many in the western part of the state were still voting, Republicans were outraged. Tonight, they seemed to have no problem at all with the surprisingly early calls, with voters still voting, as the GOP celebrated Walker's reported victory.
The day was highlighted with reportedly very high turnout; students being turned away due to residency issues (see our earlier report on early Election Day concerns for background on that and more); legal voters being turned away, illegally, for lack of Photo ID; ballots and same-day registration forms running out and other problems and concerns about computer tally systems.
It's to be expected, of course--an election as important as the recall of Scott Walker in Wisconsin today will have some dirty tricks happening.
But this one's especially nasty. Tom Barrett's campaign announced that there's been a wave of robocalls targeting the people who signed the petition to recall Walker, telling them they've already voted by signing the petition and should stay home on Tuesday. (Over a million people signed the recall petitions.)
Josh Eidelson reported:
Last night I talked to a Wisconsin voter who says she received just such a robo-call. Carol Gibbons told me she picked up the phone and heard a male voice saying “thank you for taking this call,” and that “if you signed the recall petition, you did not have to vote because that would be your vote.” After hearing the vote-suppressing message, said Gibbons, “I wanted to take the phone and throw it in the middle of the road.” Gibbons is a retired public employee and a staunch Walker opponent. If he wins the recall, she warned, “He’s going to roll over us like pieces of dirt. He’s going to say, ‘They voted for me twice – I can do whatever I want.’”
Activists in Wisconsin have been expecting voter suppression efforts, but this is still a jarring tactic--going straight after what one would assume are the safest voters for recall. Kevin Pape of Working America commented to AlterNet that the original recall petitions became public record once they were submitted to the state. "It's good for our side to know who these voters are, to know they're strong supporters, but it's also advantageous for the other side," he said.
Just to be clear: voters who signed recall petitions still have to vote in the election to be counted. The Barrett campaign did an emergency round of fundraising to call all the petition signers (again, over one million Wisconsinites) to remind them that they have to vote, and voters can report irregularities or suppression efforts at Defend Wisconsin.
(As an aside, this is possibly the kind of thing we can expect a lot more of in the age of unlimited independent campaign expenditures, which are legally required not to coordinate with candidates. Outside groups can spend money on misinformation campaigns and the candidates can keep their hands clean.)
Update: A Walker spokesperson has not denied the existence of the calls, but, as expected, denied anything to do with them.
As noted in the GOP primaries in Wisconsin, the state's "do-not-call" list exempts "electioneering" calls, so voters can continue to be inundated with robocalls.
By Sarah Jaffe | Sourced from AlterNet
More from Brad Blog:
After well over a year of political, if not all out civil war in Wisconsin in the wake of the state's Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the majority-GOP legislature unilaterally stripping many of the state's citizens of their rights to collectively bargain, Walker's fate is finally up for grabs today, along with that of his Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and the political balance of the state Senate via the seats of four Republican state Senators.
A Democratic win in just one of those Senate seats will return the majority in that body to the Democrats, making remarkably extreme actions like those we've seen over the past two years in the Badger State much more difficult to accomplish no matter who wins today's gubernatorial race.
But we'll see what happens today, tonight and, under several foreboding scenarios, over the next several weeks and/or months as the citizens of the state exercise some direct and wonderful democracy today at the ballot box --- or, at least, at the computerized tabulators.
Aside from expectedly heavy turnout being reported across the state (and particularly in Milwaukee), and races that are thought to be exceedingly tight, here are a few morning news items out of Wisconsin which may (or may not) turn out to have much more relevance in the near future, depending on how things go in the next several hours...
PROTECT THE INTEGRITY OF ELECTION RESULTS
Yesterday, I detailed several steps that citizens of all parties in Wisconsin (and even some of you outside of the state), can take to help protect the integrity of today's election results. Given that WI uses mostly paper ballots which are counted in secret by oft-failed, easily-manipulated computer optical-scan systems, and that they do not bother to verify computer tabulations in any way before announcing those results to the public, there is only so much that can be done. But some of my recommended steps may prove to be quite useful later, and all of them are pretty easy. See my report from last night for those easy steps, and please continue to share them broadly!
Democrats are alleging that dirty tricks are under way, with robocalls instructing voters that if they signed the recall petition, their work is done and there is no need to vote today. The call reportedly says: "thank you for taking this call ... if you signed the recall petition, you did not have to vote because that would be your vote." That, of course, is completely untrue.
A different robocall reportedly uses the old "Election day is Wednesday" ruse, though, unlike the other call, that one seems unlikely to fool many folks. Both calls, at this hour, are still only alleged, since audio has yet to surface from either, but both sound feasible.
Last week, another dirty trick was confirmed when supporters of Walker's opponent Milwaukee Gov. Tom Barrett, were said to have received Spam Text Messages charging Barrett to be a "union puppet" and supplying a phone number along with it. The number, however, went to Barrett's campaign headquarters. A flood of complaints to that number then effectively shut down the Democrats' phone banking efforts for a time.
Walker's campaign claims they have nothing to do with any of the dirty tricks. Nothing similar has been reported to my knowledge as being carried out by the Democrats. The state Republican Party has so far refused to comment on the reported robocalls today, and says they will not do so until actual audio from the calls surface.
LOST STUDENT VOTES
With the race reportedly as close as it is, at least according to pre-election polls, student voters could make a big difference in today's results as they are expected to heavily support the Democrats. Many students, however, may be in for an ugly surprise when they attempt to vote today.
Last year, the Republican state Legislature adopted a number of provisions that make it much more difficult (and in some cases impossible) for legal voters to exercise their legal right to vote.
One such provision was a draconian polling place Photo ID restriction which was, thankfully, blocked by two different judges in two different cases (see here and here). Both found the GOP restriction on voting was in explicit violation of the state Constitution's guaranteed right to vote. Both state appellate courts and the state Supreme Court refused to overturn the judges' rulings, despite a strong push from the Republican state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
But a change in the period of time that a citizen must live in one location in order to vote there was not struck down, and could have a serious impact today, particularly if the race is as close as predicted. The provision says a voter must live in an area for 28 days, rather than 10, before being able to register to vote there (or to update their registrations to the new location.) Think Progress explains:
Therefore, any student at these schools who registered to vote at school but is now home for the summer will not be permitted to update their registration at their parents’ house because they will have been home for less than 28 days. Under the old law, a student not on campus for the summer would have been permitted to update her registration at the polls and vote because she will have been home (or elsewhere off-campus) for more than 10 days.
As a result, thousands of Wisconsin students will likely be barred from taking part in today’s recall vote.
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin today said that they are "hearing many reports from students whose right to vote is being questioned at the polls because they have moved in the past 28 days."
The LWV goes on to note that "If you voted in the May 8 primary for the recall election, you must vote in the same polling place for today's election. If you did not vote on May 8, you may declare either your college address or your home/summer address as your residence, and you may register at the polls today."
They also recommend folks call the Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE to report any problems at the polling place.
Also remember, same-day registration and voting is still legal in the state of Wisconsin.
KATHY NICKOLAUS AND WAUKESHA COUNTY
As we detailed just before the recall primary, reports of Scott Walker's former Republican Assembly Caucus colleague turned oft-failed and controversial Republican County Clerk of Waukesha (the largest Republican county in the state, crucial to a Walker victory today) stepping aside for the recall elections, at the demand of the County's Republican Board of Executives, were apparently unfounded --- at least according to Nickolaus who suddenly sang a different tune just before the primaries.
While "A group of Waukesha County residents that claim to be a mix of Democrats, Republicans and Independents emailed County Executive Dan Vrakas Monday afternoon requesting that County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus be banned from Tuesday's election process," according to Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel, that is unlikely to happen.
The group is seeking a restraining order to keep her out of County election headquarters today. They are unlikely to get it, as Nickolaus is an elected official who has been charged with no crimes --- just massive incompetence by both Republicans and Democrats, along with flipping the results of last year's state Supreme Court race when she is said to have "discovered" some 14,000 votes that ended up flipping the race from the Independent candidate to her old boss, the incumbent Republican Justice David Prosser.
Washington Post's Greg Sargent reports today that he's been told by County Executives that Nickolaus "will not be involved in the vote counting this evening." But that was the same claim made during the recall primary as well, before Nickolaus announced that she had no intention of stepping aside.
Even the Journal Sentinel at this hour has no idea "Who's running the election in Waukesha County?" as Nickolaus has been observed passing out election supplies to municipal clerks and fielding questions from officials (while refusing to answer questions from the media.)
In either case, even if she steps aside, her own hand-picked and hand-trained deputy Kelly Yaeger will be in charge, which brings little comfort to folks like Election Integrity expert John Washburn of Wisconsin Fair Elections. Washburn --- a Republican who sometime ago had, himself, sat in for Nickolaus at a County Executive meeting, though has since lost all faith in her --- told me that he has no more confidence in Yaeger than he has in Nickolaus to properly carry out election administration and vote tabulation duties in Waukesha.
In opposition to the usual narrative, it seems to be Democrats this time around who are reportedly floating the possibility of a "recount" in the event of a very close election.
We put the word "recount" in quotes, given the fact that almost all ballots cast in the state of WI are not actually counted in the first place. Rather, they are secretly tallied inside optical-scan computers which either tally the votes correctly or not. Tonight there will be no way to know when results announced. The state has no mandated procedures for verifying the accuracy of the computers which, as we reported yesterday, have a tendency to declare losing candidates as "winners", drop thousands of votes without notice, and can otherwise be easily gamed to report anything a malicious hacker or insider might wish them to report.
Unfortunately, "recounts" in the state of Wisconsin, as we learned last year during the statewide Supreme Court "recount" between Prosser and his challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg are largely a complete joke. "Recount theater" if you will.
In that case, a two-month long statewide hand-count ensued, during which "widespread irregularities" were discovered, particularly in Nickolaus' Waukesha, where ballot bags had been discovered ripped open prior to the counting, security seals were found missing or changed, and some computer results tapes were revealed as having dates indicating they'd been printed days prior to the election.
Despite all of those breath-taking revelations, the state's top election agency, the Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.), certified the "recount" tallies without bothering to even read, much less investigate, the thousands of anomalies and exhibits documented during the "recount" process which Kloppenberg would ultimately describe as revealing a "cascade of irregularities" in a process that "should be a wake-up call" to voters of the Badger State.
Despite that wake-up call, few, if any procedures have been changed in the state since last year, so we will hope against hope that more "recount theater" will not be needed this year, no matter who is announced by the computers tonight to be the "winner" of these historic recalls.
To help, towards that end, allow me to once again recommend my article from last night detailing a few easy steps that voters in Wisconsin (and even observers outside the state) can do --- either in Wisconsin or outside of it --- to help make either malfunction or malfeasance just a little bit more difficult to affect today's election results.
Also remember to call both 866-VOTE-WIS and 866-OUR-VOTE to report any problems as they are seen today. The G.A.B. can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org with any problem reports.
The polls close at 8pm CT tonight in Wisconsin, and completely unverified computer results are likely to be reported in short order thereafter, either accurately or inaccurately.
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Wisconsin's Recall Election
by Stephen Lendman
Winter 2011 witnessed an epic worker rights battle. Wisconsin public workers challenged Republican Governor Scott Walker.
By Charles M. Young
The History Channel mini-series “Hatfields & McCoys” reminded me of Clint Eastwood’s “The Unforgiven.” Both productions showed a lot of violence in all its fascination while making it squalid, absurd, arbitrary and devastating to the victims and everyone around the victims. Both productions take as their theme men creating theaters of heroism for themselves out of their own hatred and sense of honor. Both productions show the theaters crumbling in the end as the violence becomes too stupid and meaningless even for the prime agents to continue.
I'm writing you in support of one of the top peace candidates for Congress anywhere in the country: the internationally-known and respected antiwar advocate and author, NORMAN SOLOMON. It is important that you help to elect him.
Norman and I have been friends for almost 15 years. He is a powerful intellectual, a gifted writer and an activist who is willing to put himself on the line for the principled causes of peace, justice and the environment.
He will be one unique member of Congress ... but he won't get here without your help NOW.
Norman is a true progressive. He is an independent thinker. Too many Democrats go along with outrageous military spending, deadly wars and Wall Street greed, all of which demoralize our nation, drain our federal treasury and cause resentment around the world. Norm Solomon is unafraid to stand up and speak out when others are silent.
Norman will stand up to the Wall Streeters who continue their high-stakes gambling at public expense. He refuses to take corporate PAC money or lobbyist donations. That puts him at a disadvantage in this primary battle. This is where you can help.
As you know, I will not be returning to Congress next year. We need Norman in Congress so that he can share his insight with all members. Because of his fierce dedication to the public interest, Norman will be an instant leader in Congress -- on war, on bloated military spending, on Wall Street, on threats to Social Security and Medicare (from either party).
Norman Solomon was an advocate for the 99% -- challenging the 1% -- before there was an Occupy Wall Street movement. Every supporter of mine should be a natural supporter of Norman. Help him carry on the legacy of strong peace and justice advocacy in the U.S. Congress.
Each of you -- in the next few days -- can make THE DIFFERENCE for Norman. Voting has already begun by mail. The June 5 election is in your hands. Help Norman's final outreach to primary voters -- talk to your neighbors about Norman and sign up for phone banking.
And please send him a last-minute donation before the June 5 primary.
P.S. - As always, I welcome your comments at Kucinich.us
U.S. Senate candidate from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren is taking on the establishment. Her campaign website declares:
"Iran is a significant threat to the United States and our allies. Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, it is an active state sponsor of terrorism, and its leaders have consistently challenged Israel’s right to exist. Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is unacceptable because a nuclear Iran would be a threat to the United States, our allies, the region, and the world. The United States must take the necessary steps to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. I support strong sanctions against Iran and believe that the United States must also continue to take a leadership role in pushing other countries to implement strong sanctions as well. Iran must not have an escape hatch."
Warren has been asked by local and national activists for months to take this down or correct it. Instead, she is standing by principle and against a corrupt ill-informed establishment.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says Iran is not pursuing nuclear weapons. He's joined in that outrageous claim by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, and their Israeli counterparts. Elizabeth Warren knows better, and she knows enough not to cite her sources. We are better off just trusting her, and we feel better just trusting her.
The idea of Iran as a significant threat to the United States and our allies is mocked and laughed at by a motley crew made up of just about everyone who knows anything about the world whatsoever. Iran spends a half a percent of what the United States spends on its military, and a much smaller fraction of what all NATO nations spend together. Iran has never threatened the United States or any of its allies. Iran is literally surrounded by U.S. bases and ships. Iran is seeking to avoid conflict by agreeing to inspections and restrictions on civilian nuclear power not required by any treaty or law. But don't let the established facts fool you. They're a trick of the establishment, and Elizabeth Warren knows better.
Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor admitted that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never said Iran wanted to "wipe Israel off the face of the map" in an interview with Al Jazeera in April, agreeing somewhat anticlimactically with the known facts as understood by such irresponsible commentators as anybody reading reliable news sources or accurately translating the original speech.
When Madeline Albright said that strong sanctions on Iraq did more good than the harm done by killing over a half a million children, the uninformed imagined they were witnessing a burst of courageous feminism. Ha! They ain't seen nothing yet. If what you want is strong female leadership, and the facts and human lives be damned, get ready for the one, the only, the lying scheming warmongering candidate who will make the bankers pay for part of the killing so it's all OK, Elizabeth Warren!
Elizabeth Warren will stand alone against a mountain of evidence when need be, but if Palestine tries to join the United Nations with the support of the other nations of the world, Warren will denounce any such move as "unilateralism" and support a unilateral veto of it.
Elizabeth Warren says, "We need to continue our aggressive efforts against Al Qaeda, and we need to continue to support the efforts of our intelligence, law enforcement, homeland security, and military professionals." And if that means dumping over half of discretionary spending into war preparations every year, well so be it -- we'll be responsible by not borrowing the money. We'll get a bit of it from the banksters. We'll be bad-ass killers and populists, even if the killing isn't especially popular.
You don't need to understand. You need to trust in Elizabeth.
For more of this profile in courage read:
By Dave Lindorff
The Iranian military must be enjoying the latest spectacle of Pentagon waste and bungling.
Only a few weeks ago, the US attempted to ramp up the pressure on Iran by deploying to the Persian Gulf at the Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, just across the gulf from Iran, a squadron of the Air Force’s spanking new and never battle-tested supersonic F-22 stealth fighter-bombers.
An Open Letter to Opponents of Aggressive, Undeclared, and Unconstitutional Invasions, Wars and Occupations
This open letter will be straight to the point--if you opposed the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq--if you knew Bush and Blair were lying about the Downing Street Memo--if you wanted (and still want) Guantanamo shut down--if you oppose the "secret" drone wars--if you opposed the Obama "surge" in Afghanistan--then there is one anti-war candidate running for Congress this year who stands head and shoulders above everyone else--Norman Solomon.
In fact, if you have demonstrated against any of the undeclared, unconstitutional wars that the U.S. has waged over the last 40 years, from Vietnam to El Salvador to Iraq, Norman Solomon was right there with you. He marched; he was arrested for nonviolent protest; he wrote and spoke out; he organized high-profile peace missions to Iraq and Afghanistan; he led the fight for "Healthcare, Not Warfare!"
And since next year's Congress will be missing two of our most dedicated peace leaders, Dennis Kucinich and Lynn Woolsey, we need Norman Solomon elected to stand up for us, no matter where we live.
We know Norman. We've worked with him against illegal wars for 4 decades now. And we can state for a fact that there is no pro-peace candidate running for an open seat in Congress this year who is more deserving of the votes, the donations, or the volunteer help of anti-war activists all across the country.
And now is the time--mail-in voting is starting in California, and primary day is in less than a month. Norman has a great volunteer base, and has raised half-a-million dollars--but two of his opponents have raised even more. Norman does not accept corporate donations, so he needs our help to win.
If you want to donate to Norman Solomon for Congress, click here.
Thank him for his lifetime of standing up against illegal, immoral wars.
If you want to volunteer to make phone calls for Norman's campaign, email Mike Fox.
Thank him for fighting for the Constitution, and against a militarized America.
And if you know someone who lives along the Left Coast, anywhere in northern California along the Pacific Ocean, from the Golden Gate Bridge up to the Oregon border, please remind them to vote for Norman on Tuesday, June 5th.
Norman Solomon has spent his life opposing wars and standing up for peace. He's earned our support. The question for the peace movement is--will we come through for him?
Gael Murphy, Beth Schulman
Mike Ferner, Marcos Rubinstein
Kevin Alexander Gray, Jeff Cohen
We can’t devise a successful electoral strategy for “The Left”—meaning the forces of peace, social/economic justice and sustainability—unless we face a simple fact: We’re getting our asses kicked.
For three decades, our country’s politics have moved steadily rightward and become more corporate-dominated. With few exceptions (gay rights, for example), the right wing has been winning on almost every issue. That’s why we have record levels of war-spending, with near record levels of poverty and wealth disparities. Labor is weakened and under attack, while corporate power over government and both major parties keeps increasing. Our earth faces environmental disasters while the mindless “Drill, Baby, Drill” slogan gains popularity. Issues we thought we’d won decades ago—like reproductive rights and separation of church and state—are under constant threat.
There’s an essential reason for this sad state of affairs: Rightwing activists have seized one of the two major parties, the GOP, and used that party to amass power and dominate the terms of debate on most issues since Reagan was elected in 1981.
Rightwing activists—not always with corporate backing—have been resolute in taking over local and state Republican organizations and electing movement allies to office at all levels. Unlike many liberal/progressive activists, these conservative activists don’t instinctively make apologies for politicians who sell them out or fail to deliver. Instead of apologizing for the GOP elite, rightwing activists keep electing a new crop—ever further right and more closely aligned with their extremist demands and litmus tests.
This determined, strategic electoral activism is the reason that what passes for “mainstream” GOP positions today—denying Darwin and global warming while bestowing personhood on fetuses and ExxonMobil—are more rightwing than 30 years ago. And one can argue that the Tea Party-influenced 2012 Republican presidential frontrunners (including Mr. Etch-A-Sketch) were further right than George W. Bush . . . who was further right than the 1994 Gingrich “revolutionaries” . . . who were further right than Reagan . . . who was further right than the Republican mainstream of previous decades.
A Roadmap for Progressive Power?
Have rightwing activists given progressives a roadmap for political power? If so, why has there not been a concerted effort by progressive movements and activists to enter and transform the Democratic Party into a vehicle that can move our country in a dramatically progressive direction?
Unfortunately, instead of implementing a “remake-the-Democratic-party” strategy, constituency groups like labor and the liberal netroots often function as loyal party operatives, pouring money behind whatever mediocre candidates the Democratic establishment serves up. Some big-spending unions are loath to intervene in primaries—which is where their money and activism could prove decisive in replacing business-as-usual Democrats with genuine progressives.
It should be clear by now that electing Democrats—even Democratic majorities—is not enough. In 2009, Democrats held both Congress and the White House, as they did in 1993-94. How’d that work out for us? We got NAFTA, but no Employee Free Choice Act. It’s more than a trivial matter what kinds of Democrats are nominated.
Among hardened leftists, there’s a different objection to the “transform-the-Democrats” strategy: a purist rejection of dealing with the Democratic Party—one of the “twin parties of capitalism.” So, even in this current period of mass disgust with the powers that be, electoral activism consists of running marginalized protest or third party campaigns that pick up a tiny percentage of votes.
While it’s true that today’s Democratic Party is a corporate-dominated party bolstering elite rule, it’s also the party that most young people, women, people of color and progressive-inclined Americans look to for their choices. The Left needs to offer these groups vastly different choices, and transform the party in the process.
I sure wish rightwingers had spent the last few decades as electoral purists—and instead of working to take over the GOP, they’d confined themselves to “protest politics” and self-marginalizing minor parties. Our country would be much better off.
But the right wing went about seizing a major party, beginning with the failed Goldwater insurgency of 1964. We need to remember that the Republican Party of President Eisenhower was a moderate, status quo party that had acquiesced to the New Deal—with 90% tax rates on the 1 percenters, federal jobs programs and virtually no union-busting.
Perhaps the main excuse for electoral timidity or abstention from progressives of various stripes is: “Rightwing movements have big corporate money behind them, and we don’t.” Actually, we do now have the ability to raise big money from small donors online. And corporate money doesn’t always explain rightwing success: the religious right, which drove much of our country’s conservative shift in recent decades, was largely a grassroots movement of middle-class whites, often triumphing over the moneyed Republican Old Guard.
In my view, money is not the main advantage rightwing movements have over progressive ones. It’s leadership. And zeal for transformative change. Look at a rightwing leader like the late Paul Weyrich, who coined the term “Moral Majority,” founded grassroots religious right organizations and pioneered direct mail fundraising among small donors. (Yes, he also cofounded corporate fronts like Heritage and ALEC.) Thirty years ago, Weyrich remarked: “We are different from previous generations of conservatives. . . . We are no longer working to preserve the status quo. We are radicals, working to overturn the present power structure of this country."
Those who’ve led rightwing activists to power in recent decades have burned with a passion to radically transform our country. Meanwhile, those who lead large liberal/progressive groups today seem to burn with a passion to have lunch with Democrats in Congress, to hobnob with “our friends on the Hill,” to explain to the base why we can’t push too fast or demand too much of the Democrats.
In the past century, the two periods of dramatic progressive reform—the 1930s New Deal era and the 1960s Civil Rights/War on Poverty era—were times when independent Left movements made increasingly bold demands on the Democrats. Martin Luther King, Jr. was repeatedly asked by the Kennedys and LBJ to slow down, but he never did—and he went to his grave as a vocal opponent of the Democrats’ war in Vietnam.
In those eras of social progress, there were progressive movement leaders who acted with independence—more attuned to the base than to Democratic elites. They weren’t prone to constant apologizing for party leaders.
In other words, they acted like left versions of the rightwing leaders of recent decades.
It’s not glamorous work for activist movements to try to transform a major party. It’s slow and arduous—with more defeats than victories. But rightwing movements have shown it can be done.
To do something similar in the Democratic Party will require coordinated efforts—across issues and movements—to elect progressive activists at every level: from local and state Democratic committees (reforming party platforms along the way) to local public offices to state houses. And ultimately to Congress.
If such a process caught fire, we’d hear a drumbeat from mainstream punditry—not just at Fox News—about the “extremism” of progressive Democrats (despite their own polls showing that ending war, taxing the rich, protecting entitlements, etc., are majority views).
Currently, we do have a Congressional Progressive Caucus of 75 members, the largest and most multiracial caucus in Congress. But it lacks cohesion and teeth. About 60 members pledged to reject any healthcare bill that lacked a public option—and then caved. More powerful than the current caucus might be a cohesive 25-member group ready to vote as a bloc against war and corporate policies, even when it’s a Democratic White House promoting such policies.
Getting to a bloc of 25 genuine, principled progressives in Congress is attainable. What’s needed is a strategy and resources to develop candidates in dozens of solidly progressive congressional districts nationwide: black, Latino, college town, liberal urban, etc. When an incumbent Democrat sells-out or leaves office, activists in such a district should be able to call upon national organizational and netroots support to get a 100% progressive into Congress. Once elected by the grassroots in such districts, it’s hard for corporate or conservative forces to ever get them out. Think Bernie Sanders. Think Barbara Lee.
The Norman Solomon Insurgency
Which brings me to the Congressional campaign of lifelong progressive activist/author Norman Solomon (full disclosure: he’s a close friend, with whom I’ve written three books and hundreds of columns). An acclaimed antiwar leader who led three dramatic trips to Iraq in an effort to avert the U.S. invasion, Norman is running in a new, extremely progressive district on California’s North Coast that stretches from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border. The seat is open due to the retirement of Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a steadfast peace advocate who once co-chaired the Progressive Caucus.
To prepare for this race, Norman paid his dues in local Democratic work. He’s been elected three times to be a delegate from the North Bay to the state Democratic central committee (where he coauthored the party’s “troops-out-of-Afghanistan” position). In 2008, he was elected as an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention—but he has never refrained from criticizing Obama policies that bolster Wall Street or the warfare state.
Norman may or may not win, but he’s built one of the strongest, grassroots campaigns for Congress ever—with over 1,000 volunteers and more than 5,000 donors. He’s been endorsed by local elected officials in the district (both Democrats and Greens) as he’s campaigned on an uncompromising agenda popular with voters: tax Wall Street to fund federal green jobs programs; major military cuts; no attack on Iran; enhanced “Medicare for All”; end nuclear power. The primary is June 5, with voting-by-mail to begin early May.
The good news is that the Solomon campaign raised—in mostly small, grassroots donations—an impressive half-million dollars by the March 31 federal filing deadline. The bad (but expected) news is that two corporate-connected Democrats raised $865,000 and $740,000; both will significantly outspend Norman on TV/radio ads. It’s a classic battle of grassroots vs. big bucks. Will his volunteer-based ground game beat the air attack of the moneyed candidates, as Paul Wellstone did when he got into the U.S. Senate after being outspent 7 to 1? (Like Norman, Wellstone had never previously held elected office.)
In a 12-candidate race, experts in the district see Norman as now running second. The frontrunner is the Democratic establishment candidate, a well-funded state assemblyman who has received most of the labor and environmental endorsements—despite having accepted donations in recent years from companies like Walmart and PG&E that are despised by union and green activists. (The Solomon campaign refuses corporate and lobbyist money.)
These membership groups face a choice in primaries: Do they embrace party regulars and the status quo, or back outsider candidates who want to transform the party . . . and the country. Several unions have endorsed the Solomon campaign, including the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). One of the strongest unions in the state, SEIU California, hedged its bets by endorsing Norman, along with the state assemblyman and another elected official in the race. Some progressive unions (like the California Nurses Association) have so far stayed out.
National groups like Progressive Democrats of America and Blue America have backed the campaign from the start. Norman won the endorsement of Democracy for America (founded by Howard Dean) by finishing second out of 200 liberal/progressive candidates in DFA’s nationwide online straw poll.
The Solomon campaign earns free media coverage each time a notable like Phil Donahue, Daniel Ellsberg or Sean Penn comes into the district to campaign. Other progressive leaders have endorsed, including Barbara Ehrenreich, Dolores Huerta, Rep. John Conyers and Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Raul Grijalva. Musician Tom Morello tweeted his support of the “antiwar, pro-Occupy candidate” to his 200,000 twitter fans. Blogger Glenn Greenwald, known for criticizing both Republican and Democratic politicians, was effusive: “When it comes to Congressional candidates, it just doesn’t get any better than Norman Solomon.”
The Solomon movement is up against tough odds and big money. But, win or lose, it offers a model—a campaign that inspires activists and challenges power and the Democratic establishment, a campaign promoting the full progressive agenda without settling for a puny number of protest votes.
It’s the kind of campaign we need to see in communities across the country in the coming years.
The views expressed here are the author's alone—not those of any organization or campaign.This article is part of a symposium on the elections organized by New Politics.