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IN AND FOR THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE FIFTEENTH JUDICAL CIRCUIT PALM BEACH COUNTY, STATE OF FLORIDA
DR. JILL STEIN,
FOR THE GREEN PARTY
Plaintiff, Case No:____________________
COMPLAINT FOR INJUNCTIVE
THE FEDERAL ELECTIONS COMMISSION;
COMMISSION ON PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES;
REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE;
DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE;
and LYNN UNIVERSITY.
VERIFIED EMERGENCY COMPLAINT TO ENJOIN/POSTPONE
THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE NOW SCHEDULED AT LYNN UNIVERSITY ON OCTOBER 22, 2012, DUE TO VIOLATIONS OF THE FLORIDA CONSTITUTION, THE FLORIDA CIVIL RIGHTS ACT, THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF FORIDA, THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES,
AND LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES
1. This is a civil action for Emergency Injunctive Relief against the Federal Elections Commission, the Commission on Presidential Debates, the Republican National Committee, the Democratic National Committee, and Lynn University, to enjoin them from violating numerous laws of the State of Florida and the United States by conducting the U.S. Presidential debate scheduled to be held on October 22, 2012, at Lynn University, in Boca Raton, Florida, which violations have and will continue to directly, substantially and irreparably harm and damage Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein.
2. SPECIFICALLY, AND AS MORE FULLY SET OUT BELOW, THIS IS AN ACTION WHERE PLAINTIFF RESPECTFULLY MOVES THIS HONORABLE COURT TO ENTER AN ORDER ENJOINING ALL NAMED DEFENDANTS FROM CONDUCTING, OR IN ANY FASHION PARTICIPATING IN OR AUTHORIZING THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE NOW SCHEDULED FOR OCTOBER 22, 2012, UNTIL SUCH TIME AS ALL DEFENDANTS HAVE FULLY COMPLIED WITH THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL, STATUTORY, REGULATORY AND FIDUCIARY DUTIES TO PLAINTIFF SO THAT THE NEXT PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE, AND ANY AND ALL SUBSEQUENT PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES, WILL ACTUALLY BE NONPARTISAN AND OTHERWISE COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT OF THE REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEES, AS THEY ARE INTENDED AND MANDATED TO BE; SO THAT FUTURE DEBATES WILL BE COMPLETELY DEVOID OF ARBITRARY, CAPRECIOUS, AND SUBJECTIVE PARTICIPATION CRITERIA SUCH AS “POLLING RESULTS”; SO THAT ALL FUTURE DEBATES WILL BE DEVOID OF DISCRIMINATION OF EVERY KIND, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, DISCRIMINATION BASED ON POLITICAL PARTY AFFILIATION, GENDER, AGE, RELIGION, RACE, COLOR, NATIONAL ORIGIN, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, AND ANY OTHER CLASS WHICH HAS OR NEEDS PROTECTION; SO THAT ALL FUTURE DEBATES WILL BE FINANCIALLY TRANSPARENT AND FREE OF FINANCIAL CONFLICTS OF INTEREST; AND SO THAT ALL FUTURE DEBATES WILL SEEK ONE GOAL AND ONE GOAL ONLY: TO EDUCATE THE CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES SO THAT THEY MAY KNOWINGLY AND INTELLIGENTLY CHOOSE THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE OF THEIR CHOICE FROM EACH AND EVERY ELIGIBLE CANDIDATE.
3. Plaintiff Dr. Jill Stein is the United State’s Presidential Candidate for the Green Party. Dr. Stein graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 1973 and from Harvard Medical School in 1979. Dr. Stein is, inter alia, a pioneer in the field of environmental-health, green local economies, sustainable agriculture, clean power, and freedom from toxic threats. Dr. Stein currently resides in Lexington, Massachusetts. The Green Party Headquarters is based in Madison, Wisconsin.
4. Dr. Stein is currently on the ballot for the November 2012 Presidential election in the State of Florida, 36 other states, the District of Columbia. She is seeking write-in status in Nebraska, Nevada, and North Carolina, and she WILL appear as a write-in candidate in Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Wyoming.
5. Due to the fact that Dr. Stein is on the ballot in all of the largest states in the country and nearly all of the mid-size states, her name will appear on 85% or more of all ballots cast. As such, 85% or more of the American populace is currently eligible to vote for Dr. Stein in the upcoming Presidential election.
6. Dr. Stein has reached a level of support among the American populace such that her campaign has qualified to receive matching funds from the federal government to seek the Presidency.
7. Further, and most decisively, due to the cumulative allocation of Electoral College votes designated to those states in which Dr. Stein is on the ballot, she has a “mathematical chance of securing an Electoral College majority in the 2012 general election”, a current prerequisite to participate in the Presidential debates under the current system. [See Exhibit A: Commission on Presidential Debates 2012 Candidate Selection Criteria: Evidence of Ballot Access]
8. Notwithstanding that Dr. Stein is currently eligible to win the Presidency, defendant Commission on Presidential Debates has not “invited” her to participate in any of the previous Presidential debates for the 2012 election.
9. Defendant Federal Election Commission (Hereinafter the “FEC”) is a US governmental regulatory agencycreated by Congress in 1975 to administer and enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, which governs the financing of federal elections. The duties of the FEC are, inter alia, to disclose campaign finance information, enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of Presidential elections. Its principle place of business is Washington DC.
10. Under certain and specifically delineated circumstances, the Federal Elections Commission has the authority to exempt corporate sponsorship of nonpartisan candidate debates from the general prohibition on corporate contributions. The delineated circumstances are as follows in relevant part: PART 110: CONTRIBUTION AND EXPENDITURE LIMITATIONS AND PROHIBITIONS
110.13 - Candidate debates.
(a) Staging organizations. (1) Nonprofit organizations described in 26 U.S.C. 501 (c)(3) or (c)(4) and which do not endorse, support, or oppose political candidates or political parties may stage candidate debates in accordance with this section and 11 CFR 114.4(f).
(b) Debate structure. The structure of debates staged in accordance with this section and 11 CFR 114.4(f) is left to the discretion of the staging organizations(s), provided that:
(1) Such debates include at least two candidates; and
(2) The staging organization(s) does not structure the debates to promote or advance one candidate over another.
(c) Criteria for candidate selection. For all debates, staging organization(s) must use pre-established objective criteria to determine which candidates may participate in a debate. For general election debates, staging organizations(s) shall not use nomination by a particular political party as the sole objective criterion to determine whether to include a candidate in a debate.
11. Defendant Republican National Committee is a political organization which provides and otherwise constitutes the national leadership for the Republican Party of the United States. It is responsible for, inter alia, developing and promoting the Republican political platform, and fundraising for the Party.
12. Defendant Democratic National Committeeis a political organization which provides and otherwise constitutes the national leadership for the Democratic Party of the United States. It is responsible for, inter alia, developing and promoting the Democratic political platform, and fundraising for the Party.
13. In 1987, defendants Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee joined together to form defendant Commission on Presidential Debates with the express purpose of insulating the two major political parties from substantial Presidential debate liabilities, responsibilities, and expense. The Commission on Presidential Debates is allegedly a private, non-profit corporation organized under 26 USC Sec. 501(c) (3) and the laws of the District of Columbia, with its principle place of business is 1200 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Suite 445, Washington DC.
14. Lynn University is a private university located in Boca Raton, Florida. Kevin M. Ross is president of the University. Lynn University is the site of the scheduled Presidential debate on October 22, 2012. Lynn University is listed on the Commission for Presidential Debate’s website as a “Voter Education Partner.”
VENUE AND JURISDICTION
15. Venue is proper in this Court as the Presidential debate scheduled for October 22, 2012, by defendants Commission for Presidential Debates, Democratic National Committee, and Republican National Committee, is planned to be held at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, Florida.
16. Pursuant to FS 48.193, this Court has personal jurisdiction over each and all of the named defendants in this cause by the fact that each and all of them operate, engage in, or carry on business in the State of Florida or have an office or agency in this State; and by committing tortious acts within this State; and/or by committing tortious acts in other states or jurisdictions resulted in harm to Plaintiff in the State of Florida.
17. Specifically, as the sole federal agency overseeing and responsible for US Presidential elections, defendant Federal Elections Commission regularly conducts and transacts business in every state in the nation, including the State of Florida, and Palm Beach County, and will continue to do so up to and beyond the Presidential election in November 2012.
18. Defendant Republican National Committee regularly transacts business in the State of Florida and Palm Beach County. As of June 2012, the RNC had opened 23 “Victory” offices in the State of Florida from where it conducts its business. The RNC promotes the election of party candidates with technical and financial support and works with national, state and local party organizations, including elected officials, candidates, constituencies and grassroots volunteers across the country, including in Palm Beach County, Florida.
19. Defendant Democratic National Committee regularly transacts business in the State of Florida and Palm Beach County. The DNC promotes the election of party candidates with technical and financial support and works with national, state and local party organizations, including elected officials, candidates, constituencies and grassroots volunteers across the country, including in Palm Beach County Florida.
20. Defendant Lynn University regularly transacts business and is situated in Palm Beach County, Florida.
21. This Court has jurisdiction to hear violations of the Florida Constitution, the Florida Civil Rights Act, and other Florida laws and torts. This Court also has concurrent jurisdiction to hear cases brought pursuant to 42 USC Sec. 1983 for violations of the United States Constitution and other federal laws.
22. Pursuant to Article I, Section 21 of the Florida Constitution, this Court “shall be open to every person for redress of any injury, and justice shall be administered without sale, denial or delay.”
23. This Court has jurisdiction to issue injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and award compensatory damages. The damages in this case exceed the jurisdictional amount of $15,000.00, exclusive of costs and attorney’s fees.
FACTS AND GENERAL ALLEGATIONS
24. On October 16th, 2012, less than one week ago, the United States Presidential Green Party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, and her Vice-Presidential running mate, Ms. Cheri Honkala, were arrested for being on the grounds of the site of the Presidential debate which was scheduled to take place approximately seven hours later.
25. Dr. Stein arrived on the grounds of Hofstra University at approximately 2:00pm in order to speak with defendant Commission for Presidential Debates to request that she and other “third party” candidates be allowed to participate in that evening’s Presidential debate. Fifteen minutes after making that request to a representative of defendant Commission, Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala were approached by local police and the Secret Service, at which time they were handcuffed, taken to a remote detention facility/wharehouse/ especially set up to house “protestors”, where they were forced to remain for over eight hours while tightly handcuffed to metal chairs until such time as the debate between the only two candidates “invited” to participate in the debate was over.
26. When Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala were finally “un-hancuffed” from the metal chairs and released, they were sent out into the cold night in a remote location with no notice to their lawyers or staff of their release.
27. Dr. Stein’s comments concerning her arrest, handcuffing, and incarceration are, in essence, the basis for this injunction. Upon her release, Dr. Stein stated: "It was painful but symbolic to be handcuffed for all those hours, because that’s what the Commission on Presidential Debates has essentially done to American democracy."
28. On October 3, 1988, the League of Women Voters withdrew its sponsorship of the Presidential debates for the very reason articulated by Dr. Stein almost a quarter of a century later. As reason for its withdrawal, the head of the League stated as follows: “The League of Women Voters is withdrawing its sponsorship of the presidential debate scheduled for mid-October because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter…The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American people.”
29. With the honorable institution of the League of Women Voters now out of the way, the two “major” parties, acting by and through defendants Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee, “created” defendant Commission on Presidential Debates in their own image for the specific purpose of having the new-found Commission host all future Presidential debates to the exclusion of any other political party.
30. The Commission for Presidential Debates was established as a tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) “non-profit” corporation and currently retains that status, at least on paper.
26 US Code Sec. 501 mandates that corporations may only be tax exempt, inter alia, as long as they do not attempt to “influence legislation”, and as long as they do“NOT PARTICPATE IN, OR INTERVENE IN…ANY POLITICAL CAMPAIGN ON BEHALF OF OR IN OPPOSITION TO ANY CANDIDATE FOR PUBLIC OFFICE.”
31. Subsequent to the DNC and the RNC creating their “non-profit” corporate alter ego under the guise of defendant Commission on Presidential Debates, said Commission and defendants DNC and RNC thereafter met privately in Washington DC to devise specific rules for the Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates. Once again, the League of Women Voters hit the nail on the head concerning the discriminatory and exclusive intent of defendants Commission, RNC and DNC:
“Americans deserve to see and the hear the men who would be president face each other in a debate on the hard and complex issues critical to our progress into the next century.” But instead, the control of the Commission “is a closed-door masterpiece” between the Republican and Democratic parties.
32. The “closed-door masterpiece” between the Republican and Democratic parties which is in place for the 2012 Presidential debates is a MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING attached hereto as Exhibit B.
33. The introductory paragraph of the MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING reads as follows: “This Memorandum of Understanding constitutes an agreement between Obama for America and Romney for President (the “campaigns”) regarding the rules that will govern debates in which the campaigns participate in 2012. This agreement shall be binding upon the campaigns.”
34. The Memorandum goes on toaddress the issue of “Sponsorship”:
“The two campaigns will participate in four debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates. The Campaigns agree that the Commission shall sponsor the debates, subject to its expression of a willingness to employ the provisions of this agreement in conducting these debates. In the event the Commission does not so agree, the two campaigns jointly reserve the right to determine whether an alternate sponsor is preferable. The parties agree that the Commission’s Nonpartisan Candidate Selection Criteria for 2012 General Election Debate participation shall apply in determining the candidates to be invited to participate in these debates.”
35. The Memorandum goes on to address “Participants”: “If one of more candidates from campaigns other than the two signatories are invited to participate pursuant to those Selection Criteria, those candidates shall be included in the debates, if those candidates accept the terms of this agreement.”
36. As they have done since the Commission’s invention in 1987, earlier this year, the Commission on Presidential Debates, the RNC and the DNC, acting in concert with each other and only each other, established the “selection criteria” for the 2012 Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates. [See Exhibit A] No other political party, including, or more appropriately excluding, Dr. Stein, was consulted or invited by defendants Commission, DNC or RNC to attend the planning sessions wherein they established the criteria for participation in the 2012 Presidential debates.
37. The Commission’s 2012 Candidate Selection Criteria Introduction reads as follows: “The Mission of the nonpartisan Committee on Presidential Debates is to ensure, for the benefit of the American electorate, that general election debates are held every four years between the leading candidates for the offices of President and Vice-President of the United States. The CPD sponsored a series of such debates in each of the past six general elections, and has begun the planning, preparation, and organization of a series of nonpartisan debates among leading candidates for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency in the 2012 Presidential election. As in prior years, the CPD’s voter educational activities will be conducted in accordance with all applicable legal requirements, including regulations of the Federal Election Commission that require that debate sponsors extend invitations to debate on the application of “pre-established, objective” criteria. The goal of the CPD is to afford the members of the public an opportunity to sharpen their views, in a focused debate format, of those candidates from among whom the next President and Vice-President will be selected. In each of the last six elections, there were scores of declared candidates for the Presidency, excluding those seeking the nomination of one of the major parties. During the course of the campaign, the candidates are afforded many opportunities in a great variety of forums to advance their candidacies. In order most fully and fairly to achieve the educational purposes of its debates, the CPD has developed nonpartisan, objective, criteria upon which it will base its decisions regarding selection of the candidates to participate in its 2012 debates. The purpose of the criteria is to identify those candidates who have achieved a level of support such that they realistically are considered to be among the principal rivals for the Presidency. In connection with the 2012 general election, the CPD will apply three criteria to each declared candidate to determine whether the candidate qualifies for inclusion in one or more of the CPD debates. The criteria are (1) constitutional eligibility; (2) ballot access; (3) electoral support. All three criteria shall be satisfied before a candidate will be invited to debate.
38. Constitutional eligibility means that the candidate must:
a. Be at least 35 years of age;
b. Be a natural born citizen of the United States and a resident of the United States for 14 years;
c. Be otherwise eligible for the office of President under the US Constitution;
39. Evidence of Ballot Access “requires that the candidate qualify to have his/her name appear on enough state ballots to have at least a mathematical chance of securing an Electoral College majority in the 2012 general election. Under the Constitution, the candidate who receives a majority of votes in the Electoral College, at least 270 votes, is elected President, regardless of the popular vote.”
40. Indicators of electoral support “requires that the candidate have a level of support of at least 15% of the national electorate as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recent publicly-reported results at the time of the determination.
41. Because the Commission for Presidential Debates is allegedly “non-profit”, it survives by “donations” and “private funding” and “fundraising” for its “educational activities”, such as the Presidential debates, its primary reason for existing in the first instance. The Commission’s Mission Statement reads as follows:
“The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was established to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners. Its primary purpose is to sponsor and produce debates for the United States presidential and vice-presidential candidates and to undertake research and educational activities relating to the debates. The organization, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501 ( c ) (3) corporation, sponsored all the presidential debates in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008.” [See Exhibit C]
42. Pursuant to the Commission’s website, the list of “Sponsors of the 2012 Debates” who have philanthropically chosen to facilitate and foster its “educational” goals, are Anheuser-Busch Companies, The Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Sheldon S. Cohen, Esq., Crowell & Moring LLP, International Bottled Water Association, the Kovler Fund, and Southwest Airlines. Communications Support for the debates is being provided by The Kaiser Family Foundation. [See Exhibit D]
43. The venue of the debate is Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. According to the University’s president, the Commission on Presidential Debates recently “awarded Lynn University the prestigious honor of hosting the third and final 2012 Presidential Debate, which will take place on our campus.” Dr. Ross further stated that “our University has been gaining a reputation as an open forum for public dialogues, and we are thrilled to be providing this service to our campus, community and country.”
44. According to its website, “Lynn University is committed to and actively supports the spirit and the letter of equal opportunity as defined by federal, state and local laws. It is the policy of Lynn University to ensure equal opportunity in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, and employment policies without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, disability, veteran or military status, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by law.”
45. The University’s website is literally plastered with Presidential Debate articles, information, slogans, events, opportunities to volunteer, links to financially sponsor the debate and links to “donate” to the debate, to name a few. Every web page on the University’s internet site now says somewhere on it: Lynn University—Official Host, 2012 Presidential Debate.
46. Further, and as coincidence would have it, Lynn University is “GOING GREEN.” According to its website: “As Lynn University charges into the future, we stand strong in our commitment to create a more sustainable campus, community and planet. Our fragile natural surroundings in South Florida serve as a daily reminder of why our efforts to “go green” are vital to the longevity and mission of the university”. As part of a comprehensive plan, Lynn’s Sustainability Committee is focused on improvement in 5 major areas: 1. Community Education; 2. Energy and Transportation; 3. Landscape and Ecology; 4. Water; 5. Materials and Waste. [See Exhibit E]
By Dave Lindorff
We know that there isn't much "Hope" for "Change" -- at least for progressive change -- should President Obama win a second term as president.
Even when he had the chance, with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress during the first two years of his presidency, and with a solid mandate from the voters to act on restoring civil liberties, taking significant action against climate change, ending the wars and defending Social Security and Medicare, he did nothing.
By Michael Collins
A group of independent researchers caught a pattern of apparent vote flipping during the 2012 Republican primaries that consistently favored Mitt Romney. A form of election fraud, vote flipping occurs when votes are changed from one candidate to another or several others during electronic voting and vote tabulation. (Image: Dean Terry)
Vote flipping is difficult to detect because the vote totals remain the same for each precinct. In one of several possible scenarios, an instruction is given to a precinct level voting machine or to a county-level central tabulator. The corrupted totals from precincts are sent from county election officials to state elections board and published as final results. (Primary documents for this article: Republican Primary Election 2012 Results: Amazing Statistical Anomalies, August 13, 2012 and 2008/2012 Election Anomalies, Results, Analysis and Concerns, September 2012).
The group's analysis is based on raw data from primary sources, local precincts, and state and county election records. The pattern of vote flipping raises serious doubts about the Romney victories in the 2012 Republican primaries in Wisconsin and the Ohio. Apparent vote flipping was demonstrated in the group’s paper for at least nine other 2012 Republican primaries as well.
When I was a philosophy grad student in the ancient times at the U. of Virginia, some over-smart logician pointed out to me that voting is not rational, since a single vote is never decisive. It's all the other stuff that's rational: appearing to have voted, applying a sticker to your bumper, registering voters, making phone calls -- because all of that stuff has the potential to spread sufficiently to make a difference in the election, or perhaps in a future election or in other forms of civic engagement.
But, of course, unlike the model "persons" in philosophical or economic mental experiments, actual people tend not to be sociopaths. Pretending to vote without voting is far more work than actually voting, which -- while it may be irrational -- does no harm. And so, good citizens tend to vote even understanding its irrationality, and even when there are no candidates worth voting for.
Some smart friends of mine argue for a particular type of quasi-rational voting in such situations. Because of our antiquated electoral college that pretends an entire state voted for Tweedledee even if 49% of it voted for Tweedledum, moral voters should, this argument goes, vote for truly good candidates -- even write-in candidates -- in most states, in order to send a message. But they should only do so because there are too few such informed ethical strategic voters to actually swing the state. In the all-important handful of Swing States, however, where the contest between the two Tweedles is too close to call, we are advised to vote for the less hideous of the two.
This is a difficult argument to face down. It seems to leave the vast majority of us free to vote our consciences, while requiring that those of us with the (mis)fortune to live in the states that count are required to grit our teeth and do our civic duty. No matter how godawful the less-evil candidate may be, the other one is more evil and therefore worth resisting. This is not a time for self-indulgent purity. Lives are at stake. Mr. Less-Evil will kill a great many human beings through war, climate-crisis-aggravation, and misdirection of resources, but Mr. More-Evil will kill more people faster and bring on the risk of complete catastrophe faster. Ergo we have no choice. Suck it up. Vote for the occupier of brown countries who's not the racist.
If elections changed anything, said Emma
Goldberg Goldman, they'd be banned. Policy-driven independent activism is far more important. We can make that case. It's not who's sitting in the White House but who's doing the sitting in, said the late great Howard Zinn. But some of the people making the above argument for letting the electoral college determine who you vote for are also leaders in-between elections in independent risk-taking creative nonviolent activism. I'm thinking of people like my friend Daniel Ellsberg.
But that's just it: the people who manage to think this way tend to be few and far between and usually worthy of Nobel Peace Prizes, if those prizes were still given out for -- you know -- peace.
People, as a general rule, do not function as the theoretical sociopath who could pretend to be a voter and not vote. This is why employers have begun instructing their employees to vote for Republican candidates. We have secret voting. An employee could act as if he or she were going to vote as instructed and then vote for someone else. But many employees will not draw sharp lines in their minds between the employer's threat to fire them and the employer's false claim that electing Democrats will require firing workers, any more than they will draw sharp lines between sticking a Romney sign in their yard and punching Romney's name on a voting machine owned by one of Romney's companies. When employers hold mandatory anti-union meetings, their intimidation and propaganda mix. Some workers turn against a union out of fear but tell themselves it’s a strictly strategic choice; for most it's probably a combination of the two. The same will happen with mandatory pro-Republican meetings in the workplace.
The number of registered likely voters with a high enough level of information to vote strategically by state is probably too small to swing any Swing State. This is a sliver of the population that understands the truth about the less-evil candidate (i.e. his evilness) but is willing to urge others to vote for him (one vote makes no difference, remember; they must urge others to do likewise for their action to be worth anything). They must then immediately or even simultaneously devote themselves to a movement of resistance to that candidate, and open their minds to information on his or her ongoing crimes and abuses, information that is not helpful in campaigning for them. For, without that resistance movement there is no way to break out of the downward spiral that gives us ever-worse lesser-evil candidates. We can choose the less-evil one each time, but if next time they are both more evil, some other tool is needed for positive social change.
And here we come to a second key factor that our rational strategists fail to adequately reckon with. The problem is not just that people are irrational, or that I am giving them too little credit in terms of their ability to become rational. I do think people overwhelmingly IDENTIFY with candidates and parties and begin to self-censor their intake of information and their expression of disagreement. They become fans instead of participants in self-government. But, beyond the people, there are the organizations. A movement that can fix what ails our politics cannot be driven by organizations, think tanks, labor unions, activist groups, and media outlets that identify with and seek patronage from a party or an elected official.
A couple of years ago, AFSCME, a labor union that had favored nonprofit universal single-payer healthcare for many years, brought a bus tour to Charlottesville, Va., to hold a rally for something called "the Public Option." Whatever that was, it was not a demand that had originated with AFSCME members or any other group of ordinary people outside of our government. The rules for the rally were laid out ahead of time: speakers and posters that favored or mentioned single-payer were forbidden.
This year, President Obama came to Charlottesville, and a number of us handed out flyers and held up posters outside the entrance to his event. We discovered that the crowd going in did not support policies such as his "kill list" assassination program. Rather, they had never heard of them. They had clearly gone to great lengths to avoid major news stories that would have occupied their attention and their passions were the president a Republican.
In considering how we deal with elections, we cannot avoid dealing with the way our activism and its funding and its communications work year-in and year-out. Do we become hopelessly compromised? Clearly, there would have been a greater chance of creating a single-payer system had we not censored the demand. Clearly, there would have been a greater chance of winning the pathetic "public option" had the demand of people in the streets been for single-payer, and had the "public option" become a compromise. And clearly the positive bits in the atrocious corporate giveaway that was passed in the end would not have suffered from a full-throated movement of greater size and clarity demanding healthcare for all. What did us in, in this case and thousands of others, was not lesser-evil voting in an election, but people and organizations acting as if they were doing lesser-evil voting even when there was no election.
Half the country does not vote. Most of the country has no idea there are truly great candidates like Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson on the ballot. Some activists are urging people to not vote, in order to "send a message." But half the country doing that has already failed dramatically to send any message for many years.
What might do some good would be to vote for a good candidate, whether or not you're in a Swing State. I understand that you could then be blamed, and not without cause, for the election of President Romney and all of his evils. Truly you would have to be irrational to face that risk. But being blamed for something is hardly the greatest risk our current situation demands of us. Many of us will have to face far worse if we are going to prevail. The case for casting your irrational vote for someone like Jill Stein is not that they are likely to win (and completely unconnected to whether they will "spoil"), and not that your one vote will put them over the top, or that the votes of others you recruit will do the trick. The reason to vote and campaign for a good candidate is that we need to build an independent movement that's honest, that doesn't self-censor, and that supports candidates or elected officials who come to us -- rather than us running to them. We also need a movement that makes reform of our electoral system a central part of our agenda. It is very hard to work for electoral reform properly if we are devoting ourselves to acting within the broken system. The Swing States are where the action is. Backing good platforms in the 38 states from which all candidates and journalists have fled misses huge opportunities. A national movement devoted to protecting lesser-evil officials in Swing States will behave as a fan-club for those officials in-between elections in every single state. And the fact is that electoral work for lesser-evil candidates drains huge amounts of time and energy away from other projects for the Ellsbergs among us, no matter how much good activism they do for three years out of four.
We desperately need automatic voter registration, just as we have automatic war draft registration. Door knocking could then be done on behalf of peace and justice, which -- after all -- are far more popular than any Duopoly candidate. We need to break out of the notion that electoral busy-work created by anti-democratic legislators counts as activism -- and in fact amounts to the complete array of possible activism. We need access to vote, access to placing names on ballots, access to media, and to debates. We need free air time for qualified candidates (for a limited time period!), a ban on private spending, an end to the electoral college, and verifiable counting of paper ballots where they are cast. We won't vote ourselves any of these things. We will only compel them through the true array of activist tools: educating, organizing, communicating, boycotting, blockading, marching, rallying, interrupting, mocking, mobilizing, inspiring, shaming, and struggling our way forward. Women did not vote themselves the right to vote. Nobody elected us workplace rights, environmental protections, or a safety net. We moved the whole country through policy-based movements that often involved moving third- and fourth-party candidates.
I once turned down a chance to run as a Veep candidate on a truly great ticket, primarily because I want to redirect attention away from personality-change politics to policy-change politics. But I had other reasons. I didn't want to offend half my friends and allies. Again, people are not rational about this. They take sides, identify with those sides, and passionately oppose the other sides in a mental space that does not divide itself along state lines. Additionally, I confess, I didn't want to make myself unemployable in an activist world where I know of no organizations with any funding that agree with what I've written above. But just imagine if that ceased for a moment to be the case. Imagine if the labor movement, cast aside by President Obama like a cheap mistress, didn't respond by dumping more hard-earned pay than ever into his election effort. Imagine if well-meaning people and groups took one election cycle off. The money saved could create a television network, a newspaper, a team of investigative journalists, and a grassroots organization, all of them dedicated from here on out to a nation in which every person has the right to a living wage, full education, full healthcare, a sustainable environment, peace, and civil rights. Wouldn't that be worth something? Wouldn't it have been valuable to have those things when Bush was president? Wouldn't it even -- admit it -- have been nice to have those things these past four years?
In my view, the severity of the militaristic and climate crises we face recommend my strategy over lesser-evil voting. I'm not proposing utopia. I'm proposing merely daring to to dream of human survival.
Another little step.
By Dan DeWalt
Tuesday's Presidential debate spoke volumes about the sorry state of politics today. Granted, both contenders gave a good show: Obama was back on his game and Romney did his best to sound like Ronald Reagan. The pundits have been given a lovely hopper of fodder to hold them for a week or so. It has been agreed that Americans only care for a spectacle, so this debate will be analyzed and judged the same way any theatrical event gets reviewed by the critics.
Next Tuesday, October 23rd, 9 p.m. ET, there will be a different sort of presidential debate. It'll be in Chicago, hosted by http://freeandequal.org and I'll be there in Chicago covering it for Al Jazeera. Six candidates have been invited to participate, and four have accepted: Jill Stein, Rocky Anderson, Gary Johnson, and Virgil Goode. The moderator will be Larry King. You can submit questions here.
I know we've all thrilled to the body-language and tone analysis that has followed the debates between the guy who favors 12 more years in Afghanistan, imprisonment without trial, lower corporate tax rates, for-profit health insurance, assassinations, corporate trade pacts, imprisonment without trial, oil and coal and nuclear power, charter schools, a military budget outpacing the rest of the world combined, and an ongoing "war" on drugs, . . . and the other guy who favors all of those exact same things.
I know it's been tantalizing, in a grotesque I-can't-stop-staring sort of way, to watch debates that don't mention climate change or drone victims or poverty or the possibility of prosecuting mortgage fraud or torture or war, or the alternatives that exist to military spending and tax breaks for our oligarchs -- alternatives like free education, green energy, infrastructure, transportation, and housing.
Yes, yes, there are differences between Romney and Obama. But imagine if, when you'd finished cheering Obama for accusing Romney of opposing coal pollution (gotcha!), your brain had to wrap itself around a third candidate -- someone with a serious proposal to stop burning coal? Sure, Obama is less enthusiastic about massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare than Romney is, but imagine if the two of them had to answer to someone who spoke for the rest of us, pointed out the advantages of lifting the cap on payroll taxes so that the wealthy could start funding Social Security at the same rate as the rest of us, and advocated expanding Medicare to all who want it -- someone who swore not to allow any cuts -- even backdoor cuts -- to these successful programs?
A relatively small number of us have seen a facsimile of that kind of debate by watching the coverage on Democracy Now! But the non-corporate candidates have not had the same amount of time to speak as the two participating in the corporate-sponsored Debate Commission self-parody. Nor have the locked-out candidates been able to address the two moneyed candidates directly. And they've been asked the same alternate-universe questions asked by the corporate moderators: "What will you sacrifice on the altar of deficit reduction?" Et cetera.
I know. I know. Larry King is no Amy Goodman. But if Larry King is given good questions to ask, he'll ask them. And his approach of avoiding knowing anything before an interview actually works well for an audience -- if, as I hope, there is one -- that has never before heard of the Works Progress Administration and doesn't know that military spending lowers employment.
There should, in fact, be far more debate among the four candidates taking part than there is between the two media-approved gentlemen.
Jill Stein is a fantastic candidate. I've spoken with her a number of times during this campaign, and am more impressed each time. She stands with majority opinion against wars and waste and corporate welfare, for green energy, education, nonprofit health coverage, and full-employment. She tried to enter the corporate debate this past Tuesday and was arrested for her trouble. She was handcuffed to a chair for 8 hours, and if you hear how powerful and popular her proposals are you'll have a good guess as to why.
I'm hoping that Stein pushes Rocky Anderson a little on his limited acceptance of militarism. He's no Bush-Obama-Romney. He'd cut the military significantly (at least half the Pentagon's budget) and scale back the global cowboy killing, but that's a very low hurdle. Without a clear vision of why war is never acceptable, we won't move our nation and the world decisively away from it. That being said, I know Rocky and consider him a tremendous candidate with courage, integrity, and experience. He'd make an excellent president, especially if we had a Congress, and a media.
Gary Johnson will be the newest to me. He's a Libertarian and tends to agree with me by opposing every horrible thing governments do and to disagree with me by opposing every useful thing governments do. I'm eager to see that worldview go up against Stein and Anderson. I'm hoping for something more enlightening than the he-said / he-said squabbles between Romney and Obama in which we are asked to choose between someone who blames anti-U.S. sentiment on a stupid movie and someone who blames it on unfathomable ingratitude for our benevolent invasions and occupations. There's truth in Johnson's opposition to centralized national control of schools and many other things, just as there's truth in Stein's desire to provide schools with adequate funding currently wasted on prisons and highways and weapons.
All four of these candidates will be less imperialistic than Obama or Romney, but not all of them will be less exceptionalistic. My former congressman Virgil Goode will bring the racism and the xenophobia full throttle. It's his answer to every question. I'd love to see one of the other candidates ask if Goode understands the history of U.S. wars generating immigration and U.S. capitalists demanding more immigration. Goode will try to play the Libertarian, but those of us in his district who kept asking him in vain to stop funding wars know different.
Of course, Goode was bumped out by Tom Perriello riding Obama's
'04 '08 coattails, and Perriello funded every war he could, only without any public opposition to speak of due to his being a Democrat. He lasted one term, and peace protests of his Republican successor Robert Hurt have been minimal since the wars are either now Obama's and therefore good or are imagined not to exist at all. This district in South-Central Virginia has been swept by the same wave of ignorance that is washing over the rest of the nation.
Not everything will be on the table on Tuesday. All four of these candidates, like virtually everyone else in the country (and even the New York Times now), will oppose some truly crazy ideas, like more years in Afghanistan. We leave those to the "good" and "bad" pair of often indistinguishable candidates that we so cherish our right to choose between.
I'm not asking anyone to think their way out of lesser-evil voting in swing states -- at least not anyone who truly understands and acts on the understanding that independent activism around policy changes is far more important than electoral campaigning for personality changes. But I do encourage watching this alternative debate. And if you watch it on Al Jazeera I promise not to devote my commentary to the candidates' body language and facial expressions.
By John Grant
No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.
- P.T. Barnum
By Linn Washington, Jr.
After spending much of her 94-years as a civil rights activist this Washington, DC resident is understandably supportive of the Barack Obama presidency because she like many African-Americans never thought she’d ever see a black man sitting in that Oval Office seat designated for the most powerful person on earth.
HELICOPTOR WILL TAKE AERIAL PHOTO
WHAT: On Saturday a thousand Americans will lay their bodies down on a San
Francisco beach to spell out "DUMP CITIZENS UNITED!"
WHEN: Saturday, October 13, 2012, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: Stairway #7, Ocean Beach, SF – 200 yards north of Beach Chalet
WHY: Some truths are so self-evident that the Founders felt no need to
mention them. Truths like, “Corporations are NOT People.” “Money is NOT
Speech.” “Elections are NOT Auctions.“ The 2010 Supreme Court ruling on
Citizens United spit in the face of these sacred principles, swamped our
democracy in corporate cash and must be overturned. Also, this election San
Francisco voters can vote Yes on Measure G to tell Congress to Dump Citizens
on the bright side ryan refused repeatedly to acknowledge his team's proposal to increase military spending, and biden pretended repeatedly to have voted against the wars in iraq and afghanistan
hypocrisy is the compliment politicians pay to the peace movement
ryan even moved the debate much further in our direction by pretending that his opponents favor a smaller military than any since before World War One. Lets build on that idea.
One thing you can say about the financial industry. It has no sense of loyalty.
Video Clip: Al Jazeera with David Swanson, Bruce Fein, on the War Monger Candidate Challenging the Other War Monger Candidate
Chavez Win Strengthens Bolivarianism
by Stephen Lendman
Several previous articles said Venezuelans won't tolerate going back to their ugly past. On Sunday, they proved it. They voted in record numbers.
Long lines queued hours before dawn. Polls stayed open well into the night so everyone coming out could vote.
Expect Bolivarian Victory in Venezuela
by Stephen Lendman
October 7 is the moment of truth. Venezuelans get to choose between populism and neoliberal harshness.
They're not stupid. They won't tolerate reinventing the bad old days. Expect Bolivarianism to triumph. Too bad it can't everywhere when it's most needed.
The presidential debate ignored the root causes of the present Depression:
- Out of control military/industrial/political complex that spends more on the military than all the other countries of the earth combined.
- Allowing private banks to create our money supply out of thin air when they loan us money.
- Unregulated speculation by Wall Street banks that has left them functionally bankrupt with $trillions of worthless derivative bets on their books
- Free trade policies that allow U.S. corporations to close factories at home, pay sweatshop wages overseas and then import the goods here duty free.
- Reduction of the income tax rate on surplus income of wealthy Americans from the 70-90% range of 1940-1980 to current 35%.
The results are:
Flim Flam Substitutes for Debate
by Stephen Lendman
So-called presidential debates are well-rehearsed, prescripted theater. Theater of the absurd best describes them. Election outcomes aren't influenced. They don't edify. They insult. Wednesday night was no exception.
By Dave Lindorff
President Obama was was painful to watch at the debate on Wednesday night.
Time after time, he allowed Mitt Romney to make fraudulent statements or empty statements without slapping the Republican presidential candidate down.
We're told Obama messed up the debate last night because of a bad format, bad camera angles, and bad coaches, and because it was his anniversary. Never mind that four years ago he could talk about closing Gitmo, ending the very mindset that gets us into wars, providing universal healthcare, restoring the rule of law, reforming NAFTA, creating the right to organize in the workplace, ending the Bush tax cuts, and so forth.
You can blame his failure to actually attempt any of those things on the Republicans or Rahm Emanuel or his dog Bo, but all the post-debate analysis ignores the real way in which Obama must now debate with one hand tied behind his back.
America's Sham Electoral Process
by Stephen Lendman
It's bad enough to make some despots blush. It doesn't rise to the level of good fiction. No respectable film producer would accept a script explaining it. Who'd believe a democratic system so implausible. It's more fanciful than real.
Longstanding electoral fraud alone subverts democracy in America. The entire process lacks legitimacy.
Bolivarianism v. Fake US Democracy
by Stephen Lendman
On October 7, Venezuelans go to the polls. Expect Chavez reelected again overwhelmingly. Expect the freest, most open and fair electoral process in the Americas. Perhaps it's the best anywhere.
On November 6, polls open in America. Voters have no choice. Democrats and Republicans barely differ. They're in lockstep on issues mattering most.
Inciting Unrest in Venezuela
by Stephen Lendman
Last month, Duke University's Patrick Duddy published a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) paper titled "Political Unrest in Venezuela."
From August 2007 - July 2010, he was Washington's Venezuelan ambassador. He represents imperial, not popular interests.
By Dave Lindorff
There is a simple answer to the refusal of the Two Party-Controlled Presidential Debate Commission's refusal to include third party candidates in its three debates: An alternative televised debate that would include the third party candidates, and that would air right after the corrupt and largely meaningless debate between Obama and Romney ends.
By Conor Friedersdorf
Tell certain liberals and progressives that you can't bring yourself to vote for a candidate who opposes gay rights, or who doesn't believe in Darwinian evolution, and they'll nod along. Say that you'd never vote for a politician caught using the 'n'-word, even if you agreed with him on more policy issues than his opponent, and the vast majority of left-leaning Americans would understand. But these same people cannot conceive of how anyone can discern Mitt Romney's flaws, which I've chronicled in the course of the campaign, and still not vote for Obama.
Don't they see that Obama's transgressions are worse than any I've mentioned?
I don't see how anyone who confronts Obama's record with clear eyes can enthusiastically support him. I do understand how they might concluded that he is the lesser of two evils, and back him reluctantly, but I'd have thought more people on the left would regard a sustained assault on civil liberties and the ongoing, needless killing of innocent kids as deal-breakers.
By Dave Lindorff
That’s the takeaway from the goofy address by the right-wing, Cheltenham,PA-raised, MIT-educated Israeli prime minister to the United Nations General Assembly Thursday.
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.