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Chavez Opposition Disintegrating
by Stephen Lendman
On October 7, voters get to choose Venezuela's next president. It's all over but the cheers, postmortems, and perhaps opposition planned disruptions.
Chavez remains overwhelmingly popular for good reason. He's a shoe in for reelection.
Why would I even ask that question? I've been trying (with virtually no success) to get everyone to drop the election obsession and focus on activism designed around policy changes, not personality changes. I want those policy changes to include stripping presidents of imperial powers. I don't see as much difference between the two available choices as most people; I see each as a different shade of disaster. I don't get distressed by the thought of people "spoiling" an election by voting for a legitimately good candidate like Jill Stein. Besides, won't Romney lose by a landslide if he doesn't tape his mouth shut during the coming weeks? And yet . . .
It matters to me whether our elections are stolen in any number of ways in which they can be stolen, some of which would simply mean Romney robbing Obama, but others of which are related to the barriers facing non-corporate candidates. Most of these dangers face congressional candidates as well; election theft is not exclusively a presidential problem. Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman have just published "Will the GOP Steal America's 2012 Election? Corporate Vote Theft & the Future of American Democracy," with an introduction by Greg Palast. I recommend it especially for the history of election fraud back through the centuries, but also for the collection of Fitrakis-Wasserman articles that make up the vast bulk of the book. The book opens, however, with a systematic survey of the ways in which your vote can be disappeared. Here's a taste:
"The Republican Party could steal the 2012 US Presidential election with relative ease.The purpose of this book is to show how, and to dissect the larger -- potentially fatal -- warning signs for American democracy, no matter which corporate party is doing the stealing.Six basic factors make this year's theft a possibility:
"1.The power of corporate money, now vastly enhanced by the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens' United decisions;
"2.The Electoral College, which narrows the number of votes needed to be moved to swing a presidential election;
"3.The systematic disenfranchisement of -- according to the Brennan Center -- ten million or more citizens (a million in Ohio alone), most of whom would otherwise be likely to vote Democratic;
"4.The accelerating use of electronic voting machines, which make election theft a relatively simple task for those who control them, including their owners and operators, who are predominantly Republican;
"5.The GOP control of nine of the governorships in the dozen swing states that will decide the outcome of the 2012 campaign; and,
"6.The likelihood that the core of the activist 'election protection' community that turned out in droves to monitor the vote for Barack Obama in 2008 has not been energized by his presidency and is thus unlikely to work for him again in 2012."
Each of these points is explained and elaborated in the book. Why, you might ask, does it matter which party a governor belongs to? Well . . .
"Without his brother Jeb as governor of Florida 2000, and Kathleen Harris as secretary of state, George W. Bush could not have become president of the United States. As we have seen, Governor Bush purged Florida's voter rolls of tens of thousands of likely Democrats. Various ballot 'problems' emerged, including the electronic 'glitch' in Volusia County. Then Secretary of State Harris stalled a statewide recount and opened the door for the Supreme Court's Bush v Gore decision. Without Governor Robert Taft and Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio 2004, Bush could not have gotten a second term. Taft facilitated another purge of voter rolls, removing some 300,000 names from the lists. Then Blackwell ran an astonishing range of dirty tricks aimed at Democratic voters, culminating in his now-infamous late-night manipulation of the electronic vote count that moved the victory from Kerry to Bush. The personal, private election day visit the President and Karl Rove paid to Blackwell in his Columbus office may have been their most important stop of the campaign."
Fitrakis and Wasserman also don't skimp on proposals for actual change of the sort you won't hear discussed much, if at all, in the Romnobama Debates in October:
"1.Money must come out of politics. No nation can allow a tiny handful of million/billionaire corporatists to pour unlimited cash into our elections and expect to emerge with even a semblance of democracy. If elections can be bought, so can our government, to the detriment of us all. Citizens United must be reversed, corporations must be stripped of legal personhood, and money must be banned from the electoral process. This will take an unprecedented nation-wide grassroots campaign resulting in at least one Constitutional amendment. The odds may seem daunting. But George III was not Divine, and corporations are not people.
"2.Elections cannot be administered by partisans. All local, state and federal election officials must be banned from playing any role in any campaign relating to the election they are administering. A strict non-partisanship must apply to establishing congressional districts and all other aspects of our democratic process.
"3.All American citizens must be automatically registered to vote upon turning 18. The arduous, unfair practice of forcing pro-democracy organizations to go out and register voters is nonsensical. Voting is an inherent natural right and responsibility. Citizens should be removed from voter rolls only upon death or renunciation of citizenship.
"4.All places of voting must be convenient, stable, well-known and easily accessible.
"5.Voting should be available over a period of weeks by mail, and at polling stations through the Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Monday around Armistice Day, November 11. The polls should be largely worked by high school and college students who will get school credit for the day, and who will get a holiday that Tuesday to count the ballots.
"6.All electronic voting and counting machines should be banned (as Ireland has just done, and as has long been the case in Canada, Japan, Germany and elsewhere) with all ballots cast on recycled paper, to be hand-counted."
Not a bad list. Too bad you can't vote it into being. But we probably won't get it at all if we lose every last pretense of legitimate elections. Reforming our elections must be integral to our agenda, even once we've figured out that the Messiah hasn't been nominated. After all, that realization is tightly connected to the realization that our elections need major repairs. The Messiah will never be nominated, even after all of these reforms, but we might manage to nominate a junior assistant disciple -- which is actually preferable, and which will be far superior to the current crop of moneychangers.
Paul Loeb recommended Tom Hayden's latest pro-Obama article to Rocky Anderson. Rocky wrote this response and gave us permission to publish it:
Dear Paul -
I read Tom Hayden's piece several days ago and think it is so beneath him -- particularly the "white liberal-left" and "white blindness" racist condescensions. There are, of course, many in the Black community who are justifiably appalled at Obama's performance (or lack thereof). See http://blackagendareport.com/
Amazingly, he writes as if he is clueless about Obama's miserable performance regarding climate change and energy -- and the fact that tuition rates have skyrocketed under his administration. He worries in the first paragraph of his piece about what Romney would or wouldn't do regarding these issues -- as if Obama hasn't made it all far worse. And doesn't it occur to Hayden that the reason so many Americans are misinformed is because our President is such a lousy leader/communicator? (Why else would "only six percent of Americans believe[ ] the stimulus had created any jobs"?) We could have had a single-payer Medicare-for-all health care system had Obama stood up against the insurance and pharmaceuticual industries. Even with the vast majority of the American people favoring single-payer at the time, our President wouldn't even let it see the light of day -- then rapidly and cowardly abandoned a public option. I've described my "strategic" thinking to you before. You know full well that I am campaigning to help encourage and inspire a broad-based people's movement -- the only way we'll ever achieve real social, economic, and environmental justice in this nation. You apparently think it healthy for everyone just to shut up and be polite in the face of the Obama administration outrages. Amazing for someone who writes and teaches about the virtues of citizen engagement. Truly amazing. Paul, apparently you just don't want to face your utter complicity in the outrages of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party. You would like to see everyone just get in line and be quiet about illegal wars of aggression, the abandonment of the rule of law, the shredding of due process and habeas corpus, the abysmal health care system that causes the deaths of thousands of poor and middle class people (particularly people of color) every week, and the caving in to Wall St. campaign contributors at the vast expense of most people in the U.S. (and abroad). Would you have imagined four years ago that you would be a cheerleader for a president who brags about his personal participation in deciding who will be killed in several nations, knowing that hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent men, women, and children will be killed too? And does it ever occur to you why so many so-called "terrorists" despise the U.S. and want to strike out against us? Or that we're creating more enemies and instilling more hatred and hostility toward the U.S. as a result of our disregard of so many nations' sovereignty and as we kill and maim people throughout the Muslim world with such reckless abandon? (I wrote this before the recent killings of the U.S. Ambassador and three other diplomats in Libya and the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo -- further evidence of the hatred we have generated by our international belligerence.) Would you ever have imagined you would so enthusiastically support a president who orders that U.S. citizens be assassinated? (So far, at least three U.S. citizens have been killed by drones -- one of whom was a 16 year-old boy.) Would you have imagined you would support a president who asked for, and signed into law, the authority to kidnap people anywhere (including U.S. citizens) and have them imprisoned up to the rest of their lives, without charges, trial, legal assistance, or the right of habeas corpus? (Imagine what you'd be doing and writing were that same president a Republican. The crass partisanship, instead of principle, that causes so many Democrats to blindly support this president is morally astounding.) Damn straight I'm angry -- and disgusted. Please read Ionesco's Rhinoceros, an allegory about the rise of facism in Europe. Whenever you write lately, I hear you "harumphing" and can imagine that horn growing from your forehead. In a decade, you can be really proud of your refusal to stand up in opposition to the march toward authoritarianism, the capitulation of our government to Wall Street, and the gross violations of civil and human rights. It's just amazing how "pragmatists" like you are selling out so conveniently, as our Constitution is being shredded and as our nation continues to cause so much misery in the lives of millions of people around the world. And as the administration persecutes and prosecutes those who inform us about government crimes and other misdeeds, while allowing the criminals to go free. Please feel free to distribute this as you see fit. (I'll do the same.) As I mentioned to you when you were in SLC, I'd love to debate you any time and any place about all of this. You and others need to be shaken into understanding what your blind obsequiousness is doing to our nation and world. Hayden and you are so optimistic about what you can push Obama to do during the next four years. (It all reminds me of abused spouse syndrome.) Where have all of you been during the past four years to push Obama to bring war criminals to justice? To bring those who have illegally spied on U.S. citizens to justice? (It's worth noting that you supported Obama four years ago after he lied to us as a U.S. Senator and voted to grant retroactive immunity to telecommunication companies that had committed federal felonies by providing the Bush administration with confidential information about their customers.) To end the drone killings of innocent people? To break up the too-big-to-fail banks and regulate Wall St. to protect the American people (and millions of others throughout the world) from another financial melt-down? To combat, rather than exacerbate, climate change? To end the disastrous "war on drugs"? To reduce, rather than continue to increase, the world-record incarceration rate, particularly of people of color? To provide decent health care to all Americans? To end poverty, rather than sit back and support a president who never speaks of it and who has "led" this nation while the poverty rate has increased to 1965 levels (and while our child-poverty rate is the worst in the industrialized world, except for Romania)? Are you aware of his pitiful record on presidential pardons? Or of the fact that maternal and infant mortality rates are almost the worst in the developed world? Are you aware that he perpetuated yet another big lie in his embarrassingly sychophantic speech to AIPAC about Ahmadinejad supposedly saying (he never did say it) that Israel should be wiped off the map? Obama's not a statesman, nor is he a "leader". He is a prostitute for the rich and powerful -- and has betrayed, with tragic results, the sacred trust placed in him by the American people. The greatest problem we face is that too many, like you, seem to have no line you will draw. Are no crimes too great, is there no undermining of the rule of law too egregious, for you to refrain from saying "No more"? Best wishes to a citizen who seems to be losing his soul, Rocky
Amazingly, he writes as if he is clueless about Obama's miserable performance regarding climate change and energy -- and the fact that tuition rates have skyrocketed under his administration. He worries in the first paragraph of his piece about what Romney would or wouldn't do regarding these issues -- as if Obama hasn't made it all far worse.
And doesn't it occur to Hayden that the reason so many Americans are misinformed is because our President is such a lousy leader/communicator? (Why else would "only six percent of Americans believe[ ] the stimulus had created any jobs"?) We could have had a single-payer Medicare-for-all health care system had Obama stood up against the insurance and pharmaceuticual industries. Even with the vast majority of the American people favoring single-payer at the time, our President wouldn't even let it see the light of day -- then rapidly and cowardly abandoned a public option.
I've described my "strategic" thinking to you before. You know full well that I am campaigning to help encourage and inspire a broad-based people's movement -- the only way we'll ever achieve real social, economic, and environmental justice in this nation. You apparently think it healthy for everyone just to shut up and be polite in the face of the Obama administration outrages. Amazing for someone who writes and teaches about the virtues of citizen engagement. Truly amazing.
Paul, apparently you just don't want to face your utter complicity in the outrages of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party. You would like to see everyone just get in line and be quiet about illegal wars of aggression, the abandonment of the rule of law, the shredding of due process and habeas corpus, the abysmal health care system that causes the deaths of thousands of poor and middle class people (particularly people of color) every week, and the caving in to Wall St. campaign contributors at the vast expense of most people in the U.S. (and abroad).
Would you have imagined four years ago that you would be a cheerleader for a president who brags about his personal participation in deciding who will be killed in several nations, knowing that hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent men, women, and children will be killed too? And does it ever occur to you why so many so-called "terrorists" despise the U.S. and want to strike out against us? Or that we're creating more enemies and instilling more hatred and hostility toward the U.S. as a result of our disregard of so many nations' sovereignty and as we kill and maim people throughout the Muslim world with such reckless abandon? (I wrote this before the recent killings of the U.S. Ambassador and three other diplomats in Libya and the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo -- further evidence of the hatred we have generated by our international belligerence.)
Would you ever have imagined you would so enthusiastically support a president who orders that U.S. citizens be assassinated? (So far, at least three U.S. citizens have been killed by drones -- one of whom was a 16 year-old boy.) Would you have imagined you would support a president who asked for, and signed into law, the authority to kidnap people anywhere (including U.S. citizens) and have them imprisoned up to the rest of their lives, without charges, trial, legal assistance, or the right of habeas corpus? (Imagine what you'd be doing and writing were that same president a Republican. The crass partisanship, instead of principle, that causes so many Democrats to blindly support this president is morally astounding.)
Damn straight I'm angry -- and disgusted. Please read Ionesco's Rhinoceros, an allegory about the rise of facism in Europe. Whenever you write lately, I hear you "harumphing" and can imagine that horn growing from your forehead. In a decade, you can be really proud of your refusal to stand up in opposition to the march toward authoritarianism, the capitulation of our government to Wall Street, and the gross violations of civil and human rights.
It's just amazing how "pragmatists" like you are selling out so conveniently, as our Constitution is being shredded and as our nation continues to cause so much misery in the lives of millions of people around the world. And as the administration persecutes and prosecutes those who inform us about government crimes and other misdeeds, while allowing the criminals to go free.
Please feel free to distribute this as you see fit. (I'll do the same.) As I mentioned to you when you were in SLC, I'd love to debate you any time and any place about all of this. You and others need to be shaken into understanding what your blind obsequiousness is doing to our nation and world.
Hayden and you are so optimistic about what you can push Obama to do during the next four years. (It all reminds me of abused spouse syndrome.) Where have all of you been during the past four years to push Obama to bring war criminals to justice? To bring those who have illegally spied on U.S. citizens to justice? (It's worth noting that you supported Obama four years ago after he lied to us as a U.S. Senator and voted to grant retroactive immunity to telecommunication companies that had committed federal felonies by providing the Bush administration with confidential information about their customers.) To end the drone killings of innocent people? To break up the too-big-to-fail banks and regulate Wall St. to protect the American people (and millions of others throughout the world) from another financial melt-down? To combat, rather than exacerbate, climate change? To end the disastrous "war on drugs"? To reduce, rather than continue to increase, the world-record incarceration rate, particularly of people of color? To provide decent health care to all Americans? To end poverty, rather than sit back and support a president who never speaks of it and who has "led" this nation while the poverty rate has increased to 1965 levels (and while our child-poverty rate is the worst in the industrialized world, except for Romania)? Are you aware of his pitiful record on presidential pardons? Or of the fact that maternal and infant mortality rates are almost the worst in the developed world? Are you aware that he perpetuated yet another big lie in his embarrassingly sychophantic speech to AIPAC about Ahmadinejad supposedly saying (he never did say it) that Israel should be wiped off the map?
Obama's not a statesman, nor is he a "leader". He is a prostitute for the rich and powerful -- and has betrayed, with tragic results, the sacred trust placed in him by the American people. The greatest problem we face is that too many, like you, seem to have no line you will draw. Are no crimes too great, is there no undermining of the rule of law too egregious, for you to refrain from saying "No more"?
Best wishes to a citizen who seems to be losing his soul, Rocky
1. Admit you are in a self-destructive relationship with the Democratic Party.
2. Remove conflicting bumper stickers from your collection. “Shut Down Guantanamo” and “Obama 2012” are mutually exclusive.
3. Understand that kill lists and more unjust war is the wrong kind of change to believe in.
Obama v. Romney on Issues Mattering Most
by Stephen Lendman
Both candidates represent duopoly power. They're two sides of the same coin. Differences between them are minor. On issues mattering most, they're in lockstep.
In January 2013, America will be run by rogues whoever wins. Under either party, expect the next four years to be worse than previous ones.
By Dave Lindorff
This article was first published on the website of PressTV
Just looking at the video images of the two conventions -- the Republican one last week in Tampa, Florida, and this week’s Democratic convention in Charlotte, NC -- one can see the fundamental contrast between the rank-and-file of the two parties.
For every Obama supporter who posts as a comment below that they will protest his wars on October 5-7, I promise to try to find someone in the swing state of Virginia to vote for him.
If you'd like to propose your own swap of election campaigning for serious activism, please do so as a comment below.
"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" The answer is, of course: heartlessly, callously, sociopathically, from a state of denial and chosen blindness. The answer is fundamentally the same as what would allow John Kerry to give the speech he gave at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Kerry is, of course, the same loser who eight years ago wanted to be elected on the strength of not being George W. Bush but who said he would have voted for the war on Iraq even if he had mustered up the few brain cells necessary to realize there were no weapons of mass destruction there. Kerry just would have fought the war "effectively," he said.
Now Kerry says this:
Remarks prepared for Progressive Central in Charlotte NC, Sept. 4, 2012
Last week in Tampa, Clint Eastwood proposed immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the Republican crowd applauded. This week here in Charlotte, I wouldn't hold my breath for any speaker at the convention to dare to suggest such a thing. But they would be applauded if they did. President Obama will pretend to be ending the war, albeit through a process that will take much longer than the entire length of most wars the world has seen, and he'll be applauded for that. And if the convention resembles the Obama campaign event I attended last week in Charlottesville (a completely different town from this one, by the way, but like this one named for the wife of a king whom these colonies fought a war against because he abused powers in no way approaching the powers now bestowed on our presidents) -- if, I say, the convention resembles that event, then at least one speaker will glorify the murder of Osama bin Laden and win applause for that, while at least one speaker will praise the continuation of the war on Afghanistan and encourage military recruitment for that purpose and win applause for that. To get people at a convention of their party to reject something, to boo something, or even to stop and consider something would be the rarest of phenomena.
Some nice police officers asked me and my friends to leave the Obama rally in Charlottesville, because we were asking the president to get out of Afghanistan and to end the sanctions on Iran. We would have asked him several other things if we had thought anyone in the crowd would have the slightest notion what we were talking about. Why did the United States triple weapons sales to foreign dictatorships last year? What's the State Department's commission on those sales? How do they spread freedom, hope, and change? Why does the president keep a list of people to be murdered? Why are there children on the list? Why do opponents of the electric chair and the poison needle not oppose this? Why did the president triple the occupation of Afghanistan in the first place? Why has he enlarged the military? Who authorized him to bomb Libya and supply Syrian terrorists? Why has he given war making powers to the CIA? Why is he blowing people up in numerous nations our country was not at war with? Why does he compound the domestic damage with an unprecedented assault on whistleblowers, the establishment of warrentless spying and trial-less imprisonment, the continuation of tax cuts for billionaires, corporate trade pacts that make NAFTA look like a student exchange program, threats to Social Security, and endless support for fossil fuel extraction and consumption? We couldn't ask Obama about these things, because his followers tend not to know about them. That ignorance is not a step up from supporting such policies. Rather it is a conscious choice to avoid hearing, to flip past those stories, to stay off the sites and lists that might mention them, and to forget quickly any such news that has the indecency to be seen.
Imagine if the record of the past four years were the record of a Republican president. We'd know a lot more about it. We'd be a lot more outraged by it. And we'd be opposing it without a hint of self-censorship. Imagine if the record and platform of the Democratic nominee were noticeably less warlike. Our own positions might be better still, but that Democratic platform would be the measure by which we condemned the Republican record of assassinations, privatization, secrecy, unconstitutional wars, drone wars, immunity for torturers, and so on, the record of the past four years -- if it were a Republican record.
Now imagine if the record of the past four years were the record of a Democratic president, but imagine it a far better record, a record of legitimate work for peace. Imagine that bases had been closed rather than opened, wars ended rather than escalated (and not ended by a predecessor's treaty against which the president fought tooth and nail, but ended by choice), the military shrunken instead of enlarged, etc. Not only would we applaud that record, but we might go so far as to identify ourselves with that president's political party.
Now imagine if the record of the past four years were that of a Democratic president but a record far worse than what it's actually been, involving more wars and more war preparation, more assassinations, more criminality, perhaps the dropping of a nuclear bomb or two. Surely there would be some point prior to complete immediate genocide of our species at which we would begin to question the notion of working against war within a war party. Surely at some point we would decide that we couldn't vote for such a party at all, much less name ourselves for it. And surely at some earlier point we would decide that we could vote for members of that party (since another party was even worse), but we couldn't identify with them, collaborate with them, censor our views for them, apologize for them, or otherwise treat them fundamentally differently from how we treat the more catastrophic of the two catastrophe generating clubs. The question is how we know when we've reached that point.
Maybe we can spot it coming from the other direction. Imagine we've been acting as nonpartisan activists pressuring both halves of a rotten corrupt plutocracy, but one half is so dramatically reformed that we now want to associate ourselves with it and treat it differently. For example, we don't want to ask for the impeachment of its members just because they do the same things as the other team. A full 10% of the party perhaps has begun to uphold decent public policies, to the point where we deem it strategic to dismiss 90% of the party as not being the Real members of it. How do we know when we've reached that point?
My contention is that there is no such point, whichever way you come at it. If we improve our culture and activate our population, all the politicians will improve -- one party perhaps ahead of another, but all of them. If, instead, we continue to suffer under the widespread delusion that independent activism can't work, then making excuses for the less evil half of a government will guarantee that both halves are more evil the next time we're asked for our input. When peace movements, justice movements, the civil rights movement, the suffragette movement succeeded, they did so with independent activism. The task of organizing, educating, and mobilizing nonviolent action needs everything we have.
When we pushed for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, people said "Oh, you just don't like Republicans," and we said: No, no, no, we wish them no ill. We need their successors deterred. If Bush gets away with these things, the next president of either party and of either sex will assume the same powers and expand upon them. And it will be too late to wait for the third post-habeas-corpus presidency to begin our resistance. When Nancy Pelosi gave John Conyers permission to hold an impeachment hearing as long as he didn't try to impeach anyone no matter what he heard at the hearing, we said: you are dooming us to more of these crimes. And when Congressman Conyers said if the president attacks Iran then he'll finally pursue impeachment, Conyers meant if a Republican president attacks Iran.
And that seems utterly inevitable in its naturalness to us. Who could question that? I'm afraid we've turned the responsibility to vote into the pretense that voting changes things. I'm afraid we've changed the rational casting of a lesser evil vote into a mindset to guide our actions throughout the year. The threat to Iran is a more dangerous, more immoral threat than what put us in the streets in February 2003. Murdering people with flying robots is a more dangerous, more immoral abuse than torturing them. The inequality of wealth is advancing more rapidly. The collapse of the natural environment is progressing more rapidly. The proliferation of weapons is advancing more rapidly. Our activism doesn't seem to be keeping pace. One reason is that we don't maintain a steady campaign to pressure the government toward sustainability and peace. That may be asking too much right now. But come the middle of November, we'll have a choice between obsessing over which schmuck we want voted on or off our national island in 2016, or building a campaign to rid our culture of its addiction to violence and exploitation. I hope we make the right choice.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
The news media have failed once again to report a significant story about an example of the racism always so obvious at Republican National Conventions.
Romney/Ryanism in Tampa
by Stephen Lendman
Tampa may never be the same. Republicans left it pockmarked. At least they're gone. Residents welcomed their departure. Three days of pre-scripted hokum were featured. Romney/Ryan speeches featured revisionist history. Democrats get their turn next week.
Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine spoke prior to Obama's speech on Wednesday in Charlottesville, Va. He had praise for anyone signing up to go to war in Afghanistan. "We can still put our positive thumbprint on that nation," he said, to wild cheers. Imagine the competition among the world's nations to get our thumbprint next! Imagine what it costs to get our assprint.
"So, who are you voting for?" an Obama follower asked me prior to the event. I was holding posters with 12 friends and handing out hundreds of flyers that looked like Obama material until you read them. (PDF).
The posters objected to the tripling of weapons sales to foreign dictators last year, Obama's willingness to cut Social Security and Medicare, the kill list, imprisonment without trial, warrantless spying, corporate trade agreements, the continued so-called "Bush" tax cuts, the war on Afghanistan, the drone wars, the increased military budget, the murder of Tariq Aziz and of Abdulrahman al Awlaki, the weak auto efficiency standards in the news that day, the refusal to prosecute torturers, Obama's sabotaging of agreements to counter global warming, etc.
"So, who are you going to vote for?"
"Well," I said, "you know, you can vote for someone good like Jill Stein or Rocky Anderson, or you can vote for Obama, but today is not election day. If you vote for the lesser evil candidate on election day, that's great. Knock yourself out. But that does not begin to produce an argument for being his apologist and cheerleader throughout the year. If you push the culture and the government in a better direction, both evil candidates will get a little less evil. One guy wants to trash Social Security, and the other guy brags about his willingness to make huge compromises with that agenda -- that is, to partially trash Social Security. So, is your job to demand that not a dime be cut (regardless of how you vote), or is your job to cheer for the partially trash it guy, thereby guaranteeing that he and the other guy both get even worse?"
"Yeah, I see, but I'm trying to understand who you think we should vote for."
"Let me try again. Take Obama's kill list for . . . "
"President Obama keeps a list of the people he wants to kill. It was a frontpage New York Times story three months ago that made a lot of news but was carefully avoided by Democrats even more assiduously than you would have sought it out and trumpeted your outrage were the president a Republican. Anyway, take the kill list, which includes Americans and non-Americans, adults and children. Is it your job to ignore it, to celebrate it, or to protest it? I don't mean your job as a voter, but your job as a citizen. What are you supposed to do in such a case?"
"Well what's the alternative?"
"The alternative to murdering people? Well, I don't know how to put this. The alternative is essentially not murdering people."
"No, what's the alternative to Obama? Isn't the other guy worse?"
"Let me try again. You'll grant me that women didn't vote themselves the right to vote. Will you go along with that? They didn't get the right to vote by voting for it?"
"And the civil rights movement didn't end the sit ins and marches and endorse Democrats and pack events like this one to cheer loudly? That wouldn't have worked as well and wouldn't have been required in order for those activists to be serious activists, right? We don't accuse Martin Luther King of not being a serious activist because he didn't endorse candidates, right? And if you'd asked him what the alternative was to your candidate, would you be shocked if he had replied that the alternative was educating, organizing, mobilizing, and engaging in nonviolent resistance to evil?"
"So, you're not going to vote for anybody?"
"I'm not sure I'm being very clear here. 70% of the country wants the war in Afghanistan ended. Neither candidate is willing to end it. Obama pretends he's ending it. Romney doesn't mention it. Should 70% of the country keep quiet while large numbers of people are killed? Or should we approach both branches of our government, the two parties, with our just and moral demand until we're satisfied -- regardless of who we're going to vote for?"
"Well, you can have your opinion about Afghanistan, but that's no reason to character assassinate the President."
"Seventy percent of the country is character assassinating the president by wanting to get out of Afghanistan? Or only if you mention it out loud? How do you character assassinate someone? Did you catch the part where I pointed out that Obama actually assassinates people?"
Three of us went into the event. I had tickets, which were free and which the campaign could barely give away, while back in 2007 Obama had sold out the same venue. We didn't go in so as to spend hours in the hot sun just to hear an Obama speech like the one he'd given the day before in another town which we could have watched on Youtube. Thousands of people did that. We went in to disturb the war.
We wanted to shout. But what could we shout? We were only three. We were not near the front. (I recommend taking 10 to the front of one of these events if you can. You'll own the place.) We would have to be loud and clear. We couldn't mention the kill list which would be like mentioning UFOs to these people. We couldn't mention Social Security because they pretend Obama's not threatening it. We couldn't mention peace because people would think it was a pro-Obama chant. We decided to say this: Get out of Afghanistan! End the sanctions on Iran!
Here's how the Washington Post's blog reported on that:
"Protesters drown out Obama
"Posted by Amy Gardner on August 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm
"CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — An outdoor political rally erupted into a moment of chaos as protesters drowned out President Obama’s speech at a downtown amphitheater here — and then the rest of the crowd drowned out the protesters. It was unclear what the protesters were saying, but several members of the crowd said a few minutes later that they heard 'Get out of Afghanistan!' The shouts prompted a flurry of Secret Service activity, and they also prompted an enthusiastic crowd of more than 7,000 to shut down the protesters with two cacophonous chants: 'Four more years!' and 'O-ba-ma!' Obama couldn't continue for a long moment, but when the noise finally died down, he said: 'I couldn’t hear what those young people had to say, but that's good that they got involved.' To the rest of the crowd, he said: 'Don't just chant! Vote!'"
Obama was pretending the crowd was all young people. He'd tried to speak at the University of Virginia which had turned him down, but he gave his speech as if he were there. The crowd didn't shout us down till we'd run out of breath. They were not nearly as fast as Republicans are with their "U-S-A! U-S-A!" In fact, they seemed tremendously proud of themselves when they managed to discover that they could yell "O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!" Voting, in the pretense of those in power, constitutes more activism than chanting or any other activity. Don't just hold teach-ins, vote! Don't just occupy the square, vote! Don't just risk your life to expose injustice, vote! If Bradley Manning had just voted, that would have been the last full measure of devotion.
As to the flurry of Secret Service activity, an Obama campaign guy started standing next to us, and a mean possibly drunk guy started shoving and threatening us. After various additional disruptions of the war (not the peace) by us, the Obama guy called the local police over who asked us to leave, and asked for our names, etc., to tell them to the Secret Service. The police had earlier refused numerous requests by the Obama staff and volunteers to evict our poster demonstration. The police had mentioned freedom of speech. The local media, as well as the police, were surprisingly decent. The Obama campaigners, on the other hand, would have exiled us all to Gitmo if they'd been able, and if they weren't suffering under the misconception that it's been closed.
Senior National Correspondent
"Five O'Clock Shadow"
WBAI . 99.5FM . wbai.org
|"Five O'Clock Shadow" with Robert Knight|
|Calvin Coolige; David Swanson; RNC; Ivan Eland; Ron Paul; Robert Knight|
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION COVERAGE: DAY ONE
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A CENTURY MAKES: REPUBLICAN MORPHING FROM PEACE TO WAR
CALVIN COOLIDGE - 1924 Campaign Statement of contemporaneous Republican Party principles;
DAVID SWANSON [ davidswanson.org , rootsaction.org ], author of "War Is a Lie," discusses his latest essay, "A Forgotten RNC," and the counterintuitive peace-asserting Republican (and Socialist and Progressive) party philosophy of 1924's "outlawry" movement leading to the Kellog-Briand Treaty that nominally refutes war as an instrument of statecraft;
RNC (2012) - Opening Statement and immediate "adjournment";
Daniel R. Queen [ queenspalaceinc.com ] - "Voter Suppression";
IVAN ELAND [ independent.org ], senior fellow at the Independent Institute, and author of "Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity and Liberty," discusses the Ron Paul populist/libertarian impulse within the Republican party, and the prospects of his international anti-war philosophy being subverted by domestic conservative interests; and
RON PAUL addresses supporters at a "Sun Dome" rally in Tampa.
Anchor: Robert Knight
Producer: Thiago Barrozo
Engineer: Michael G. Haskins
Support the "Shadow" - give2wbai.org
The acceptance speech of the Republican candidate for U.S. president in 1924 would have made a dramatic improvement on President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech of 2009. The 1924 speech was given by the incumbent president who would go on to win reelection and to act on his rhetorical commitments. His name was Calvin Coolidge.
The speech has been virtually erased from memory, as has the movement that inspired the section I want to recall. The Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation doesn't list the speech on its website and cannot find it when asked. The American Presidency Project hasn't got it. The Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum is no help. The Library of Congress Coolidge Papers don't have it. The Private Coolidge papers don't have it. The University of North Carolina - Charlotte claims to have it but doesn't. However, the Lewiston Evening Journal printed the speech on August 14, 1924, and you can read it on Google.
The speech is, of course, chock full of distortions, exaggerations, U.S. exceptionalism, racism, bigotry, nationalism, religion, elitism, libertarianism, sexism, and other comforting touches that will make us feel at home and remind us of our own Republican National Conventions. It would take volumes to survey the many ways in which we've progressed, retrogressed, and failed to budge from that speech to today. But I want to point to one section on which we've lost tremendous ground. There was nothing like it in John McCain's speech in 2008 or in Obama's of that year. There will be nothing like it this season.
By Dave Lindorff
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.