10 04 2010

It’s been a while since I made any “Truth in Strange Places” awards, so I’ll make up for that by giving out three of them this month, to Nashville’s Congressman Jim Cooper, former President Bill Clinton, and current “Drug Czar” Gil Kerlikowske.

Cooper gets his award for this quote:

But when you look at TN Blue CrossBlue Shield you see a company that claims to be non-profit but just built a brand-new $400 million headquarters in Chattanooga, and they leveled a small hill to build their headquarters. And I’ve discovered the Blues(BCBS) nationwide get a billion dollars every year from the federal government. You see those sort of abuses and you think, ‘Can’t we do better than this?’ There are countless tens of thousands of people in our area and millions across Tennessee who need a fairer, better deal. Why can’t we do that? Truth is, the insurance lobby has the most powerful lobby in all of American history. They’re so powerful there really isn’t an oversight committee in Congress. They got in 1946 a provision that basically banned congressional oversight, which is the catbird seat if you’re an industry. Very few industries if any have had that sort of privilege. Plus they get exemption from antitrust laws. I think they should be competitive, private businesses — not favored with all these government perks, and that’s the way they’ve been for a long time.

Thanks for coming so  close to telling like it is, Jim, even if you don’t agree with me that these corporate persons deserve capital punishment for contributing to the death and suffering of so many  real human beings.

And Bill Clinton?

He called U.S. free trade policies in Haiti, which helped destroy the country’s ability to feed itself and pushed hundreds of thousands of people out of the countryside and into the cities, as well as into illegal immigration to the U.S., “a devil’s bargain,” and said

Since 1981, the United States has followed a policy, until the last year or so when we started rethinking it, that we rich countries that produce a lot of food should sell it to poor countries and relieve them of the burden of producing their own food, so, thank goodness, they can leap directly into the industrial era. It has not worked. It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake. It was a mistake that I was a party to. I am not pointing the finger at anybody. I did that. I have to live every day with the consequences of the lost capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people, because of what I did. Nobody else.

Of course, that’s only the tip of the iceberg as far as this country’s interference in Haiti, not to mention all the other blowback from NAFTA, which he campaigned against as a candidate but then supported as President.  (Barack Obama is not the first Democrat who ran to the left and governed to the right!)  NAFTA, after all, had the same consequences in Mexico and the rest of Latin America as it did in Haiti, collapsing self-sufficient local economies and displacing millions of people, who went streaming to the big cities of their own countries and across borders to this country, where the Faux News approach has been to blame these refugees for what our government did to them. Blame the vicitim….right.

And lastly, Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, when interviewed, of all places, on Faux News, about the possibility that California might legalize and tax not just medical but all marijuana use, responded

Why would anybody pay taxes on a substance you can grow in your back yard?

Good point, Gil.  Let’s hear it for the local option!  That’s all for tonight!

Greg Brown–Spring Wind


11 09 2009

I have been pretty hard on Barack Obama–although if Sarah Palin had become vice president, I might have chosen to relocate to Canada for my personal safety–but we all knew that wasn’t going to happen, not once Goldman-Sachs threw down for Obama.

A friend of mine is (or used to be) close to Al Gore, who confided in him as he was about to become Vice-President that he thought he really wouldn’t be able to implement much of his political vision because the President and Vice President are little more than figureheads, who have to deal with firmly entrenched political realities.  Al was right, all too right–from NAFTA to welfare to the Middle East to global warming to the so-called “war on Drugs,” the Clinton-Gore years  at best were a stumble in place and at worst took us way on down the wrong road.

That’s the context in which I see Obama’s movement from an enthusiastic endorser of single-payer health care, to his acknowledgement that, while it makes the most sense, it’s not possible in the arena of American politics, any more than prosecuting Cheney and Bush for war crimes or prosecuting Tim Geithner and the rest of the Wall Street Wolves for economic crimes.  It’s their economy and they’ll trash it if they want to.

I am amazed that a President who has indebted the public up to our hairline in order bail out private enterprise gone bad is accused of being a socialist, but that just goes to show you how ignorant a lot of people really are.  There are loads of paranoid nut jobs in this country who would raise hell if  Bush and Cheney got their due, and all these same ignorant, neurotic people will not let the government go after our vampiric medical establishment and its vicious brother, the convenience food industry.  Like, “I’ll give up my Big Mac when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!”  Probably sooner, rather than later, if the mortality statistics mean anything.  But I digress….

The firmly entrenched political reality in America is that establishing a single-payer health care system, no matter how much sense it makes economically and socially, is a non-starter.  This country is too much in thrall to big money, and big money is not going to go away or commit suicide, at least not fast enough to make a difference.  And so Obama’s “public option” was meant to be a small experiment that, if it worked, would grow–but then Congress, specifically the “Blue Dog” Democrats like Nashville’s own Jim Cooper–messed with the public option, and, unless it gets changed back, they pretty much disabled it.  As originally formulated, this “public insurance” would have paid doctors 5% more than Medicare pays; but the Blue Dogs, supposed financial conservatives, insisted that the “public option” pay doctors and hospitals a negotiated fee that will, in all likelihood, keep it from being significantly cheaper than private insurance.

So, when Obama, after doing a great job of describing the knot our for-profit medical system has tied us in, started proposing his “solution,” it made about as much sense as bailing out the banks for screwing us over.  We, the taxpayers, are going to be asked to bail out the insurance companies for screwing us over, and it’s very likely that the bill that eventually emerges from Congress will do little or nothing to help people who are going bankrupt over their medical bills in spite of being insured.  It will certainly do nothing to eliminate the bureaucratic  labyrinth that consumes enough of our health care dollars to cover the cost of  a single-payer system.  It will do nothing to cap or reduce medical costs, or the cost of insurance, or the cost of pharmaceutical drugs.  It will do nothing to educate people about how to eat right and exercise right so as not to get sick in the first place.  It will be a bonanza for the private, for-profit insurance companies, who do not need a bonanza.  They need to be busted, but it ain’t gonna happen on Obama’s watch.  It’s as if Teddy Roosevelt had let himself be intimidated by Standard Oil.  Shame on you, Mr. Obama.  You may not be a “blue dog” Democrat, but you are definitely a “yellow stripe” Democrat.

In a recent article in The New York Times, Michael Pollan points out that

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three-quarters of health care spending now goes to treat “preventable chronic diseases.” Not all of these diseases are linked to diet – there’s smoking, for instance – but many, if not most, of them are.

We’re spending $147 billion to treat obesity, $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions more to treat cardiovascular disease and the many types of cancer that have been linked to the so-called Western diet. One recent study estimated that 30 percent of the increase in health care spending over the past 20 years could be attributed to the soaring rate of obesity, a condition that now accounts for nearly a tenth of all spending on health care.

Mr. Obama’s rhetoric was soaring, and he got most of the important facts right.  But his solution is as effective as a band-aid on a gunshot wound.  If this bill passes, even with its so-called “public option” intact, it will be yet another reminder that our government, no matter which major party is in charge, no matter how good its proclaimed intentions, is completely incapable of acting to benefit “we, the people.”

music:  Cream, “Politician


5 02 2009

We have a tie for the “Truth in Strange Places” award this month.  I was going to give it to Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, a guy who is usually so slippery that if he said the sun was shining I’d look to check.  However, I believe he gave us the real straight dope last month when he said, in an interview with Austria’s Profil magazine,

“The drug trade at this time could be the only growth industry …The money that is being made is flowing only partly back into illegal activities, in parts of Asia, Africa, and South America, where it is used to bribe politicians, buy elections, or finance insurgents, such as the Talibans in Afghanistan, the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, or the FARC in Colombia, for example.”

The rest of the profit, Costa said, “is fed into the legal economic circulation through money laundering. We do not know how much, but the volume is imposing. As such, seen from the macroeconomic effect, this is simply bringing in investment capital. There are indications that these funds also ended up in the finance sector, which has been under obvious pressure since the second half of last year. In many instances, drug money is currently the only liquid investment capital, to buy real estate, for example,” Costa continued. “In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system’s main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor.”

When pressed on just how this was accomplished, Costa responded: “It appears that interbank credits have been financed by money which comes from the drug trade and other illegal activities. It is naturally hard to prove this, but there are indications that a number of banks were rescued by this means.”

Costa noted that money laundering controls put in place to stop drug trafficking have “ironically” resulted in drug traffickers sitting on large stashes of cash — the ultimate liquid financial instrument. “To get around the electronic surveillance of bank transactions, now criminals stash their funds in cash sums which can be up to hundreds of millions of dollars. This is the way they try to hold these funds liquid.”

Thanks to for what you just heard/read.  Now, I’ve hearing this for years from Catherine Austin Fitts,  but as a social scientist of sorts, I have an easier time believing things when they are, as it were, proved in different laboratories with different priorities, and I don’t think that you can get much more difference than these two and still stay credible.

Senor Costas shares this month’s award with U.S. House of Representatives member Marcy Kaptur, who is the senior member of the Ohio House delegation and the longest-serving woman in the U.S. Congress, who told Amy Goodman and anyone else who would listen, not to surrender their home in the event of a foreclosure:

possession is nine-tenths of the law; therefore, stay in your property.

Get proper legal representation. If you believe that Wall Street has been deceptive, could have been fraudulent or tried to dupe the public, and with these subprime loans and with the kind of circuitous financing that’s been done, Wall Street cannot produce the deed nor the mortgage audit trail, you need a lawyer.

And you should stay in your home. It is your castle. It’s more than a piece of property. It’s your home….

I’m recommending your Legal Aid Society. Call your local bar association or the national number, (888) 995-HOME. Most people don’t even think about getting representation, because they get a piece of paper from the bank, and they go, “Oh, it’s the bank,” and they become fearful, rather than saying, “Oh, wait a minute. This is contract law. The mortgage is a contract. I am one party. There is another party. What are my legal rights under the law as a property owner?” And many times, they are abrogating their own rights. They’re forgetting that they have rights in this proceeding. And they need to exercise those legal rights.

In case you missed it, Representative Kaptur was pointing out back in there that banks are all too frequently foreclosing on properties that, due to the “slicing and dicing” of the mortgage market prior to our current financial collapse, they do not actually have clear title to–that is, the deed to the property that the homeowner surrendered as collateral for the mortgage loan.  The devil is in the details, they say, but so is the savior.  Continuing to roar like a radical lion, Ms. Kaptur continued,

You know, when this mess started, when the meltdown really started back last year, 75 percent even of the subprime loans were performing. That means people were making their payments. What Washington has done and what Wall Street has done has made it so much worse….

I think that Wall Street really didn’t want (too be investigated), and they were powerful enough, in order to help to pass a bill, scaring Congress right before the election, before a new president was elected last fall, that they really put all the power in the Treasury Department, which isn’t a housing agency. It really doesn’t do bank regulation in the same way that the FDIC does, nor oversight. Treasury really works with Wall Street. They basically sell US debt. There’s a real circuit that goes between Wall Street and Washington, the Capitol, the US Treasury Department. So they used the wrong agency.
They brought in people from the very companies, like Goldman Sachs, to run the Treasury that had been one of the agencies—one of the companies that was going under, so they made it into a bank holding company. You can follow the trail of what they did. Meanwhile, they’re protecting their interests on Wall Street. And here on Main Street, the so-called bailout that they were given hasn’t trickled down. And so, millions and millions of families are getting foreclosure notices.

There’s plenty more where that came from on the Democracy Now website.  It’s reassuring to know that there are some honest people in Congress…her and Dennis Kucinich, maybe a few more.  It’s not too early to begin looking to 2010, and how to break the Democratic Leadership Council”s stranglehold on  the Democrat party, and how to break the two-party system’s lock on the American mind.   Obama could be the reincarnation of Jesus, Buddha, and Bucky Fuller rolled into one, but as long as the legislative branch keeps on being as venal and shortsighted as it still is, JIM COOPER, he would not be able to get the first piece of sane policy through Congress, which continues to be a whore for big money, and has been a whore for big money for so long that most Congresspeople can’t imagine doing anything else.  Two words:  Green Party.

Rave on, Marcy Kaptur!  May your tribe increase.

music:  Eliza Gilkyson, Runaway Train


6 11 2008

I spent election day as a paid poll worker, showing people how to use touch-screen voting machines.  I found this extremely ironic, but played by the rules and kept my amusement and skepticism to myself.  I was working in a mostly-black precinct in a mostly-Democratic county in a mostly-racist (excuse me, I mean Republican) state.  There was no reason for anybody to mess with the machines or the voters where I was, and everything went smoothly.  No votes were flipped, only two people were turned away for not having enough ID, and only one person was asked to cast a provisional ballot, out of 156 votes cast that day.  We all thought it would be much busier, but once we studied the voting rolls and discovered that about three-quarters of the eligible voters had voted early, we realized our hardest job of the day would be staying awake and alert.  Election day was strictly a mop-up operation.

The lack of voting “problems,” i.e. hacked voting machines, and the paucity of complaints about disenfranchisement seems to have been a nationwide phenomenon.  Obama won in Ohio, Florida, and Virginia.  The first two states were the most recent sites for election night robberies, and Virginia was widely considered to be this election’s equivalent.  My sense is that Repugs could see the writing on the wall and so didn’t try to flip votes, since the likely consequence of trying to cheat in an election you lose is investigation and punishment.

Here in Tennessee, the Green Party’s results were encouraging.  Chris Lugo tripled the number of votes he drew in his 2006 Senate run, going from about 3,000 to over 9,000, while first-time candidate John Miglietta fell about 500 votes shy of Ginny Welsch’s 3600-vote pinprick in the leg of the mighty Jim Cooper.   Oh well, Ginny spent a lot more money.  Are people hypnotized by brand names or what?  My precinct polled 2-1 for Obama, but gave Cooper a landslide and split evenly between Republifascist Lamar Alexander and Obama Democrat Bob Tuke–sorry, Chris, you only got 3 votes out of the 155 cast yesterday up where I live.

I’m disappointed, but not surprised, that people can think voting for Obama is voting for “change we can believe in” and not see that supporting Cooper and especially Alexander is shooting that change in the foot, if not the kneecap.  Well, you know what I think about the likelihood of serious change under Obama’s leadership.  As I quipped to a friend of mine, all those “Change” signs will take only a few modifications to be perfect for panhandling–like, “Change I can believe in–but bills would be better,” or something like that.  Mr. Obama faces a challenge at least as serious as the one faced by Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, perhaps more serious because, at that time, we still had domestic oil production, a manufacturing infrastructure, a population accustomed to and capable of hard physical labor, and medical costs were not out of hand.  That’s just the top of the list.

Speaking of the top of the list, Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney got almost 2500 votes in Tennessee, which shows the value of getting on the ballot–in 2004, GP candidate David Cobb was a write in and only 33 people wrote him in.  (Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin each got one write-in vote in the precinct I worked.)  Ralph Nader, who is thought of as a Green by most people who aren’t in the Party, increased his vote in the state from just shy of 9,000 four years ago to just shy of 12,000 this time.  If there’s a mathematical continuity of increase for Chris and Ralph, Chris can expect to be elected to the Senate in 10 years, but Ralph Nader will be 138 before he carries Tennessee, even without factoring in the dip from the 20,000 votes he garnered as the Green Party’s nominee in 2000.  I hope he lives that long.   Gotta love ‘im when he says:

Dear Senator Obama:

In your nearly two-year presidential campaign, the words “hope and change,” “change and hope” have been your trademark declarations. Yet there is an asymmetry between those objectives and your political character that succumbs to contrary centers of power that want not “hope and change” but the continuation of the power-entrenched status quo.

Far more than Senator McCain, you have received enormous, unprecedented contributions from corporate interests, Wall Street interests and, most interestingly, big corporate law firm attorneys. Never before has a Democratic nominee for President achieved this supremacy over his Republican counterpart. Why, apart from your unconditional vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, are these large corporate interests investing so much in Senator Obama? Could it be that in your state Senate record, your U.S. Senate record and your presidential campaign record (favoring nuclear power, coal plants, offshore oil drilling, corporate subsidies including the 1872 Mining Act and avoiding any comprehensive program to crack down on the corporate crime wave and the bloated, wasteful military budget, for example) you have shown that you are their man?

In a post-election interview, Nader was bold enough to say that Obama could be a great President or “an Uncle Tom” for the powers that be, which caused the interviewer to launch a totally misguided attack on him.  Hey, Rahm Emmanuel is going to be White House Chief of Staff–what part of “Uncle Tom” don’t you understand?  Nationwide, Nader got about 539,000 votes, and Cynthia McKinney got about 119,000.  Too bad we couldn’t have figured out a fusion ticket.

I went to an election-night party at Green Party candidate John Miglietta’s; the room was full of people with Obama t-shirts, social activist-types who supported Miglietta over Cooper but viewed Obama as “one of us” and who felt that his election was an affirmation of their values, permission for them to press ahead with their programs and agendas, conveniently ignoring the facts of Obama’s career that Nader so eloquently set forth.  I think that’s the good news about Obama’s election.  Whether he supports them or not, the activists are going to cut loose, and that is going to shake things up for the better in this country, but  I suspect there will be a lot fewer “Obama” shirts at our next election party.

The bad news will come as it sinks in that America has been financially castrated by not just the eight years of the Bush junta’s’s ripoff reign, but by the seeds sown in the supposedly Democratic Clinton years:  the deindustrialization caused by NAFTA and the WTO, the investment bubble blown due to the Democrats’ collusion in the repeal of Glass-Steagall, and the military buildup that is silently sucking America dry.  I think my activist friends are going to bump up against the reality that there is no money for social programs, because the rich got to the trough first and emptied it.   Whatever the rest of us do, we will have to figure it out on our own and among ourselves.  Me, I’m glad I always liked gardening.  It’s probably going to figure large in my future.

In the shorter term, once-and (likely) future candidates John Miglietta and Chris Lugo have announced that they are starting a Green Party PAC with their leftover campaign contributions.  The PAC will enable them to keep raising funds even though the election is over.  This will provide seed money for the next round of Green Party candidates here in Tennessee.  I hope they are many.  Whatever Obama turns out to be, we are going to need a lot more sane, grounded people in politics.

music:  Brother Martin, “Green Party Figure”


18 04 2008

A couple of years ago, my friend Ginny Welsch ran for US Congress here in the 5th District, which, unlike many bizarrely gerrymandered districts in this state, neatly encompasses Nashville and its near suburbs, and is known as an island of Democratic Party dominance in a sea of rural, redneck Republicanism. Ginny thought she would get a lot of traction with her left-wing challenge to our blue dog Democrat congressman, Jim Cooper, who is widely known as a strong supporter of the Iraq war and the Bush administration, but Ginny couldn’t get no respect. She tried renouncing her Green Party endorsement, she tried pointing out that Cooper’s nominal Republican opponent was a flat-earth type who was way out of the mainstream and couldn’t possibly win a serious three-way race, but nothing seemed to work for her. She got little media coverage and financial support, and precious few votes, considering the growing depth of antiwar sentiment even two years ago. She reported that even the most seemingly liberal people were strongly defensive of Cooper, as a nominal Democrat.

This year, the Green Party’s John Miglietta is preparing to take up the David-and-Goliath task of challenging Jim Cooper, so when I stumbled across the Friends Committee on National Legislation’s page on Cooper, I was delighted to discover a massive cache of pebbles for John’s slingshot.

Here”s the executive summary: out of 65 legislative proposals that the FCNL supports, Cooper has been willing to co-sponsor only three. One of those supports punitive sanctions against Iran. Another proposes measures against illegal immigrants, and is supported by more Republicans than Democrats. I don’t pretend to understand or support everything FCNL does, but overall I think they’re a good standard for the more liberal wing of the Democratic party, and Cooper flunks it big time.

Here’s a partial list of the proposals he doesn’t support:

He doesn’t support habeas corpus for prisoners at Guantanamo.

Not only does he support continuing US aggression in Iraq, he is against insisting on Congressional oversight of the war effort, and wants to give the NSA a pass to go around the FISA courts. Guess he just trusts the Cheny-Bush junta to do the right thing. He’s not willing to allow more Iraqis who have worked for the US to seek asylum in this country. That’s just plain mean. Meaner still, he has refused to support any additional aid for Iraq’s four million refugees, who would not be refugees if the US had not invaded their country. Well, they shouldn’t take it personally. Jim doesn’t want to take better care of formerly interned Japanese-Americans, either. I guess it’s a compassion thing–he doesn’t have any.

He has refused to support efforts to find a diplomatic solution to this conflict.

He has refused to support legislation that would hold mercenaries (aka “contractors”) to the same standards of conduct expected of American soldiers. Considering how many wrist slaps have been issued for serious crimes, and how some low level soldiers have been severely punished for following the illegal orders of their superiors (who were not held accountable) that’s not even asking much, but hey, it’s something–but Jim ain’t buying it.

He has refused to push for a ban on cluster bomb use in the vicinity of civilians. Hey, with the planet this crowded, civilians are everywhere, and that would practically mean we couldn’t use cluster bombs at all. Can’t have that, now, can we, Jim? Just leave enough o’ them cluster bomblets laying around populated areas, and it’ll thin the population down some–is that it? Can we try it in your neighborhood, Jim?

He has refused to sign on to legislation that would investigate and probably reign in WHINSEC, the US government’s notorious training school for torturers and terrorists. We ain’t even talking banning it, here, just shining a light on it…not for Jimbo. Ignorance is bliss, eh?

He has refused to support the “Restoring the Constitution Act of 2007,” which would make “significant changes to provisions of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 by restoring the writ of habeas corpus for individuals held under U.S. jurisdiction, narrowing the definition of an unlawful enemy combatant, preventing the use of evidence gained through torture and coercion, and requiring the U.S. to live up to its Geneva Convention obligations.” Our Congressman, Jim Cooper, has declined to sign on to legislation that requires the US to live up to the Geneva Conventions. Got that? I’m going to get back to it in a minute.

He won’t support legislation to close Guantanamo, a bill that was introduced by Jane Harman, who I have characterized elsewhere in this chronicle as a lapdog of the CIA. The CIA wants to close it, the junta wants to keep it open, and lookie where Jim Cooper stands. What loyalty!

He won’t support legislation that would ban the so-called “outsourcing” of torture. Helping preserve American jobs, Jim? Nor will he act to preserve habeas corpus for American citizens, and he’s not interested in repealing the so-called “Real ID” act. In case you hadn’t heard, “Real ID” is a neocon job that was slipped through without debate a few years ago. It gives states a very expensive unfunded mandate to create a national ID card, and many privacy experts see the data base it is supposed to create as an invitation to snooping and identity theft.

And don’t get me started on his apparent support for an attack on Iran, or his lack of support for strong environmental measures–and that’s “strong” by Congressional standards, not even by the standard of what needs to happen to prevent catastrophe.

Now, about those Geneva Convention violations that our boy Jim supports. The last time a Western democracy suspended habeas corpus and allowed the executive branch to rule without oversight or input from the legislative branch was in 1933 when the Reichstag passed “The Enabling Act” that turned the government over to Cheney and Bush…excuse me, I mean Hitler. Hitler, of course, went on to violate the Geneva Conventions and kill millions of civilians. In part because they abdicated responsibility so early in the history of the Nazi regime, members of the Reichstag were not held responsible for war crimes and tried at Nuremburg.

Here in the US, however, we have a different situation. Congress has, at least technically, retained its power, and has passed legislation to fund US aggression in Iraq, as well as declined to investigate its excesses or whether it was warranted at all. This suggests to me that, unlike members of the Reichstag, members of the US Congress who have been actively complicit in the war effort are culpable in the event of some Nuremburg-type trial convened to punish those responsible for the widespread, unprovoked devastation that has resulted from US aggression in the Middle East. That means you, Jim Cooper, not to mention you, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer and Hillary Clinton and all the other Democrats who have failed in their sworn duty to protect the Constitution, uphold international treaties, and enforce the law, even if it means impeaching the President.

As for all the “good Americans” who have kept Jim “War Criminal” Cooper in office with their votes and their blind allegiance to his party label, all I can say is, “Wake up! It’s almost midnight! Do you know where your conscience is?”

music: James McMurtry, “God Bless America”


16 07 2006

I recently received an email from Ginny Welsch, who is running for Congressman Jim Cooper’s Nashville seat. In it, she said, “I’m afraid that my affiliation as the Green party nominee will harm my chances right now of getting the support I need from other segments of the community. And I can’t risk that at this point, because that is not the focus of my run for Congress. I’ve already been accused of being a Republican plant, running to make sure Cooper’s vote is split and a right winger gets in. I can’t afford to give people who are already unsure about me any ammunition to undermine what I’m trying to do.” She has decided to remove all Green Party references from her website.

Chris Lugo, running as a Green candidate for the Senate seat that Harold Ford, Jr., hopes to win, has faced the same kind of accusations. And, in spite of the fact that the Governor’s race appears to be a shoo-in for Bredesen, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howard Switzer also finds himself regularly shunned by people who should be his constituency.

This reminds me of something that’s happened to not a few police officers down through the years, when they have attempted to stop an act of domestic violence—let’s be blunt, a guy beating up his wife—and had BOTH parties attack him for trying to break them up. Liberals afraid of a right winger replacing Jim Cooper? Hey, the guy’s apparently already a member of the Heritage Foundation. How much more right wing could an out-front Republican be? Jim Cooper has been called a “Bush Democrat” due to his support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement, Bush’s so-called bankruptcy- and tort reform bills, his unquestioning support for the war on Iraq, and his vote for the bill that denied First-Amendment protections to the internet. He gets good marks from the League of Conservation Voters, but the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) gives him only a 30% approval rating on abortion issues.

Harold Ford, Jr. largely echoes Cooper’s positions, including his lukewarm NARAL ratings and his flag-waving support of the war that’s destroying America’s future, but because he is black it is the liberal thing to do to support his candidacy. I don’t know if that’s reverse racism; it might be perverse racism. Ford is so close to Bush that when the resident visited Memphis trying to drum up support for his attempt to rip off Social Security, he gave Childe Harold a hundred tickets to distribute so there would be some supportive black faces in the room—and Ford did his master’s bidding.

Candidates like Cooper and Ford, who call themselves Democrats but don’t really take a strong egalitarian-populist stand, do not inspire confidence in the electoral process. They inspire cynicism, because they make a sham out of the idea of choice in American politics. Harold and Jim are abusing their constituencies. At election time they woo us with promises of benefits for us and protection from Republican boogeymen, but once we empower them, those benefits never show up and they become the boogeymen. Like abused women, we tolerate this….until enough of us have had enough and we leave. I’ve left, as best as I can. It will take a lot more of us getting fed up to really make a change. Won’t you slip away with me?

Bob Marley and the Wailers–”Top Rankin‘”

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