“REALISM” AND JILL STEIN

9 09 2012

Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala are running the strongest Green Presidential campaign  the party has yet seen.  While Ralph Nader, it’s true, had greater name recognition, Ralph’s personal style is not very “green.”  He is very much a my-way-or-the highway kind of guy, which sharply diverges from the Green value of grassroots democracy.  Stein and Honkala have incorporated Green values into their campaign organizing, generating an enthusiasm that has enabled them to raise sums of (noncorporate!) money far beyond what the Party has been able to summon up in previous elections, qualifying the Green Party for Federal matching funds, and even breaking into TV advertising.

Modern media maven that I am, I put  Jill’s pitches on my Facebook page, where, sure enough, one of them generated some pushback.   A long time friend, whom I appreciate for his thoughtful approach to life, wrote:

“Your protest and donation vote will accomplish what?…..If there’s no one who you like who can win, why not give your dough to some person who is starving or has a life threatening issue or something like that….don’t you think it would have more direct impact….everyone can spin an exciting story if they don’t have to execute the vision….the only difference between a hallucination and an inspiration is the execution.”

To which I replied:

“Why not give your dough to some person who is starving”?  Because I’d rather get ahead of the game and end the conditions that allow people to go hungry.  “….or has a life threatening issue”…..the Republican and Democrat programs are life threatening, endangering all life on the planet for the sake of short-term corporate profit.  Greens have “executed our vision” in numerous governments around the world, generally with positive and popular effects.

As Michael Lerner said, “Realism has been defined by the powerful and the media they control to mean any policy that does not significantly challenge the current distribution of power and wealth. So I say, “Don’t be realistic.” The God revealed to the Jewish people is a God that makes it possible to overcome systems of power and domination, starting with the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. All people, who are created in God’s image, can aspire to transcend the constant voices from outside and from inside our own heads that insist we accommodate ourselves to the existing reality rather than change it.”

So, friend, why are you such an apologist for the sorry state of the status quo?

I could also have thrown in Dom Helder Camara’s well-known bon mot, “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist.”  Or, in this post-communist era, “they tell me I’m being ‘unrealistic’.”

Let’s talk about this “be realistic” thing a little.  Read the rest of this entry »





IN 2012, WHO WILL YOUR VOTING MACHINE VOTE FOR?

8 01 2012

As I said, getting the state of Tennessee to recognize the Green Party’s right to appear on the ballot as a party is only half the battle.  The other half involves how the votes will be cast and counted.

First, a little history.  The Cheney-Gore-Nader presidential contest in 2000 was widely perceived as having been tainted with electoral fraud that resulted in Cheney’s appointment to the Presidency by a Supreme Court largely handpicked by Ronald Reagan and his running mate’s father.  The electoral fraud most commonly suspected was not the old-fashioned, retail, the-cemeteries-arise-and-vote kind.  It was wholesale, two different ways.  The first was widespread purging of alleged felons from the voting rolls in Florida.  The key word here is “alleged.”  If you happened to have the same name as a felon, you were barred from voting, but, depending on the county you lived in and whether the list had your current address,  you might not find this out until you showed up to vote, leaving no time for an appeal.  Investigative reporter Greg Palast estimates that about 8,000 were wrongfully denied the right to vote in Florida.  Most of those on this Florida list were African-Americans, who went 9-1 for Big Al, who lost Florida (according to the Supreme Court, anyway) by just 537 votes.  The capper on this is that the “purge list,” with all its inaccuracies, was generated for the Republican-run state of Florida by a private data mining firm with close ties to the Republican Party.  So quit bashing Ralph Nader, all you Democrats–the Repubs stole this one with their own people.  If you just have to blame a fellow progressive for this screwup (which Gore compounded by refusing to contest it), blame John Hagelin, the Natural Law Party candidate, whose 2, 281 votes in Florida total more than Cheney’s alleged margin of victory.  Hagelin’s into Transcendental Meditation.  He can handle your scorn.

But I digress.  Besides wrongly disqualifying voters, there are two other easy ways to tilt the vote.  One is simply to put fewer voting machines in districts where you want fewer people to vote, because long lines will discourage some people.  This has been done with great success, most notably by Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio.  But the most sure-fire way to win an election you might lose on the up-and-up is to hack the voting machines.   This has been made much, much easier by America’s love affair with computers, because you can hack a computerized, touch-screen voting machine and leave no trace whatsoever.  This is not some crackpot theory.  Argonne National Laboratory, a division of the Department of Energy, did a little research and found that, for less than $30, they could build a remote control device that could hack into a computerized voting machine and change the results it recorded, and not leave any trace of the hack. Yes, I repeat myself, but this is very important.  Interestingly enough, these vulnerable machines are made by private corporations with close ties to the Republican Party.

All this has been well known, among those who are not totally absorbed in reality TV, anyway, for over a decade, now.  Here in Tennessee, in 2006, a group of citizens formalized their concern for the integrity of our elections by forming a group called Gathering To Save Our Democracy, to lobby for verifiable, recountable balloting in the state.  While a DRE, as computerized voting machines are referred to, can produce a printed tape showing the votes cast on it as it recorded them, there is no way to tell whether the vote recorded by the machine was the vote intended by the voter.  This is not a theoretical problem.  To give just one example, in 2004 DRE’s in New Mexico recorded a vote for Cheney when a voter pressed the “straight Republican ticket” button, but failed to record a vote for Kerry when a voter pushed the ‘straight Democratic ticket” button.  This happened almost exclusively in Latino and other low-income districts that were likely to vote Democrat.  Kerry lost the state by about 6,000 votes.  There were a reported 21,000 ballots in New Mexico on which there was no recorded Presidential vote.  Do the math!  The situation in Ohio was similar, but Kerry decided not to dispute the election, to the great disappointment of millions.

So, here in Tennessee, a group of citizens lobbied the state legislature to switch the state to some form of verifiable balloting, in which there would be a permanent record of the voter’s original intent.  Optical scan machines, the kind used to grade standard tests, were one option; hand counting was another .  Due to these citizen activists’ efforts, the state passed the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act in 2008, by a wide, bipartisan margin, with just one little compromise.  The Republican asked that implementation of the bill be delayed until the 2010 election, due to the “difficulty and expense” of switching over.  This was baloney, but the Democrats bought it, over the protests of the activists, who knew that the Republicans were, to be impolitic, lying.  Other states had made the switch in the amount of time remaining before the election, Federal money was available to pay for the transition, and it was, in fact, cheaper, faster, and simpler than using the DRE’s,   Cheaper- optical scan equipment requires only one computer per precinct, to count the ballots, which have been filled out by hand.  Old-fashioned hand-counted ballots don’t take any computer at all.  Faster–much less instruction necessary, and many more private spaces for filling out a ballot can be set up, compared to the number of computerized voting machines that can be provided at each precinct.  Simpler–as I said, little or no instruction is needed in filling out a ballot with a number two pencil.

If this is true, why did both Democrat and Republican Secretaries of State resist the change?  A two word answer:  Lobbying money.  The company invites state and county election commissioners to fancy dinners, where they are exposed to entertaining lectures on the superiority of the computerized product.  A bond is created.  Money may change hands.  While these are not elective offices, the commissioners have friends in politics whose fortunes they would like to help advance, after all.  Just another example of how decisions in this country are made not according to what makes sense, but according to what makes money for the powerful.

Once the bill was passed, with its delay in place, the 2008 election was a big surprise for Democrats, who lost heavily all over the state.  Was this a rigged election, or simply a sharp, racially-motivated right turn on the part of Tennessee voters?  It’s hard to tell–impossible, in fact, because hacking DREs leaves no traces.  The art in throwing an election is in not making it too obvious.  You don’t rig it so your guy wins 99-1; you rig it so he wins 50.1-49.9.  But first you purge the voter rolls of anyone who has something like the same name as a purported felon–if the person turns out to have merely committed a misdemeanor, or isn’t even the right person, hey, it’s their problem to prove their innocence. This is America, after all!  Then you shorten early voting  hours, which makes it a little harder for working people to vote, and then you pass a law requiring that all voters show a photo ID, which gets rid of some older, low-income voters, as well as some college students, (since you’ll accept a gun license but not a college ID as valid).  All these groups are more likely to vote for  Democrats.  Then you only have to tweak the election results a little, here and there, to throw the election.  I live in a majority black, and, obviously, heavily Democratic district.  I am reasonably certain that anybody throwing an election wouldn’t mess with our precinct, because a Republican triumph here would be hard to believe.  On the other hand, they might shave just a few votes here, and more elsewhere, where the outcome might be more up for grabs.

Back to our time line.  The newly Republican state legislature attempted to repeal the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act, but failed by one vote–that of Republican Tim Burchett, of Knoxville, who distinguished himself by being an outspoken advocate of open, honest elections.  For his principled stand, Burchett was kicked upstairs in 2010, elected to the post of Mayor of Knoxville,  With him out of the way, the legislature repealed the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act, lying through their teeth as they claimed that this was done solely because the state didn’t have the money to make the switch.  The Federal money, which was all that was required, was still sitting there, unspent.  State government firmly in hand, the Repubs have drawn up a redistricting plan that is just about guaranteed to preserve their hold on power, short of large sections of the voting public waking up to the rude, uncomfortable truth.

The situation here in Tennessee is one that, if Obama and Eric Holder had even one cojone between them, the DOJ would be all over.  But they don’t, and so I’m not looking for the guys in the white hats to come riding over the horizon any time soon.

My little rant may have raised a couple of questions for you.  You might wonder why a Green like me is being so solicitous of the welfare of our state’s Democrats. And you might wonder what, exactly, this has to do with our lawsuit, the one about recognizing Green Party candidates’ Constitutional right to have our party affiliation listed on the ballot.

I’ll answer that one first.  I am concerned that, since our elections are apparently being jiggered by the GOP, they will welcome the Green Party’s official ballot slot as a great place to dump votes they have taken away from Democrats and at the same time create strife between Greens and Democrats who perceive that we are taking “their” votes.  Even if the elections were squeaky-clean, of course, some Democrats would be squawking about this, but, if they really care about electoral choice, there are ways, such as instant runoff voting, to have elections in which voters can express their second choice in the event that their first choice doesn’t make it into the top two.

So, first question second.  Why do I, a Green,  care so much about the Democrats getting screwed over?  I could get all Martin Niemoller on you and say “First they came for the Democrats,” but it’s not really that dramatic.  While the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act is a milestone in our empire’s attempt to legitimize its war crimes, I think our government’s power will fade out long before they get around to disappearing the likes of you and me.  It’s much cheaper  and easier to just ignore us.

No, I defend Democrats, especially “rank-and-file” Democrats, because, as individuals, I like them.  Hey, I used to be one myself.  I not only like them, I am like them. They mostly mean well, unlike Republicans, who tend to be sociopaths.

Disclaimer:  what follows is strictly a metaphor.  Nobody on the Mid-Tennessee Progressive Strategies Facebook list needs to feel the least bit uneasy about my intentions there, OK?

To me, Democrats are kind of like certain fascinating and delightful women I have known, who always seemed to end up giving it to some jerk who didn’t appreciate them and made their lives miserable, rather than to me, who would have respected and appreciated them. Jerks like, back in the old days, Richard Daley, or, more recently, the likes of Steny Hoyer, Rahm Emmanuel, Joe Biden, and Max Baucus. Were those women a bit dysfunctional for the kind of love lives they manifested?   Yes, but that didn’t subtract from their lovable humanity.  Am I a bit dysfunctional, hungering for the attention of those whom I do not psycho-emotionally trigger?  Probably. But people, whether they are abused women or rank and file Democrats, sometimes grow and evolve, get to the place where they see through the games and conditioning they have always accepted, DTMFA (Dump the Mother Fucker Already) and move on.  Is that my prediction for 2012?  Do I think the ranks of the Green Party will swell with masses of disaffected Democrats?  I’m not getting my hopes up, but, in the words of Shakespeare,  “‘Tis a consumation devoutly to be wished.”

music:  Drive-By-Truckers, “Wife Beater





GOP WINS MIDTERMS BY DEFAULT

14 11 2010

The recent election was a good one for Republicans, and the mainstream, corporate media are busy spreading the big lie that this represents a “turn to the right,” a rejection of Obama’s leftist policies,” and similar drivel.  I’m here to tell you that nothing of the sort happened.

OK, sure, the Republican party now has a lot more say in the national and many state governments, and this will push government policy in a somewhat different direction, but Obama’s policies have never been leftist, and great numbers of people did not change their minds and vote Republican.  Great numbers of people were very disappointed with Obama’s failure to deliver any of the progressive agenda, from health care reform to foreign policy, and stayed away from the polls.  The result:  “a different electorate“–older and more conservative, got to decide the results.

Why did so many of Obama’s 2008 constituency stay away from the polls?  As Dubya once attempted to put it, “Fool me once, shame on you–fool me twice, shame on me.”  Many former Obama enthusiasts were not up for being fooled twice.

How did Obama fail to deliver?  As Green Party activist Scott McLarty puts it,

Which Democratic president escalated the Afghanistan War, protected Bush officials who okayed torture and other abuses of the US Constitution and international law, maintained warrantless spying on US citizens, hired Wall Street front men like Tim Geithner and Larry Summers, authorized more taxpayer-funded Wall Street bailouts and new taxpayer-funded nuclear plants, appointed a ‘Catfood Commission’ to explore Social Security reductions, opened up more coastal waters to offshore drilling, promoted the myth of ‘clean coal’ and permitted more mountaintop removal mining, and left a substantial residual occupation force, including military contractors, in Iraq? You know who.

I would add to Scott’s list: Obama’s failure to prosecute not only Bush-era war criminals like John Yoo and Dick Cheney, but financial meltdown criminals like…gee, Tim Geithner and Larry Summers, two of his closest advisers.  Obama’s small gestures at helping people who were being thrown out of their homes were widely and correctly perceived to be ineffectual, in line with his overall policy of helping the rich and letting the middle class catch the dreck and pay the bills.  And that “Catfood Commission”? the “Deficit Commission” was a rigged jury, and it comes as no surprise that it recommends cutting Social Security (i.e., forcing the elderly to eat cat food) so we can continue to fund military adventures in the oil-rich regions of the world.  Under Obama, the American empire and its military budget have remained sacrosanct, as has the so-called “War on Drugs.”

When you throw in the way the Obama administration has been in bed with Monsanto from the get-go, and current moves to investigate anti-war activists for possible  (albeit highly unlikely) collusion with terrorists, what’s left to like about the “hope and change” guy?

To add insult to injury, we also had White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs bitch-slapping the progressive movement:

“They will be satisfied when we have Canadian health care and we’ve eliminated the Pentagon. That’s not reality….they ought to be drug tested.”

What a way to “energize the Democratic Party’s base”!

For a lot of people, that was three strikes and out right there.  With Canadian health care, a radically downsized military, and an end to the war on some drugs, this country would be on the road to the right track–but, to the neoliberals running the Democratic Party, “that’s not reality.”  That such obvious common sense is “not reality” in this country speaks directly to who’s in charge and the nature of their agenda, which is not “leftist” at all.  Democrats, just as much as Republicans, exist to serve their corporate masters…er, donors.

And thus it is deeply ironic to see the “Tea Party” and the Republicans portrayed as “a populist uprising.”  What kind of “populist uprising” is funded by billions of dollars of corporate money and calls for deregulating big business, ending environmental protection, cutting taxes for the wealthy, and sharply curtailing aid to the poor, sick, and elderly?  This is not your father’s populism, kids.

The Democrats’ failure at the polls was not due only to their own incompetence; it was compounded by the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision, which allowed virtually unlimited spending by the corporate sector…oh, yes, and the unions, too, but hey, they’re pretty much broke and toothless these days.  Through this opened flood gate, about four billion dollars poured, washing away Democrat after Democrat.  It’s almost enough to make me feel sorry for them.

This decision from the Supremes should not have been a surprise; after all, it was largely the same bench that anointed the Cheney/Bush junta in 2000.  Republicans like to decry “judicial activism” when a judge overturns a truly unjust law, but they are strangely silent when “judicial activism” favors their agenda.  In both these cases, the Supremes, despite promises to the contrary at their confirmation hearings, kicked precedent out the window and made law out of whole cloth.  In both cases, after a few sputtering protests, the Dems dropped trou, bent over, and took it.  “Oh, baby, make it hurt so good!”

Let’s face it. One major party in this country, the Republicans, is largely sociopathic; the Democrats are the sociopath’s enabler.  They’re not in opposition to each other, they’re a co-dependent team.  The Democratic Party mindset is not healthier than the Republican one.

Their mutual addiction is corporate money.  No matter which party wins the election, corporate influence on our government grows.  At this point, it’s good to remember what Franklin Delano Roosevelt,  the man who saved capitalism from itself, had to say about this influence:

“The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism—ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”

Thanks to Ralph Nader for that quote.

To reduce it to Tweet length:

When government is controlled by big business, that’s fascism.  Our government is controlled by big business.  This is fascism.

“Democrat”? “Republican”?  Doesn’t matter.  Our electoral process, and our government, are demonstrably controlled by big business.  We are living in a fascist country. Obama is not a “socialist,” he’s a fascist–and so is Sarah Palin. Whether it’s Republican Rand Paul’s brown  shirts stomping a woman protester or  Democrat Max Baucus having single-payer advocates arrested at a Senate health care hearing, the intent and the result are the same.  “Democrats”?  “Republicans”?  Fascists.  As Paul Simon commented so many years ago in Mrs. Robinson:

Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon
Listening to the candidates debate
Laugh about it, shout about it
When you’ve got to choose
Ev’ry way you look at it, you lose

If I’m trying to sing, it must be time for a music break.  Here’s some Greg Brown for you, and after that I’ll talk about how our little David of a Green Party fared against Goliath in this election.

Greg Brown:  “Fooled Me Once”

OK, here’s the Green Party’s election wrap up:

Greens drew enough votes in Massachusetts, Texas, and New York to give the Party the right to be listed by name on the ballot in the next election cycle.  In Massachusetts, Green/Rainbow Party candidate Nat Fortune pulled in over 100,000 votes in his bid to be State Auditor, just over 5% of the total.  Gubernatorial candidate Jill Stein didn’t do quite so well, receiving only 32,000 votes, but she raised enough money to take part in public debates with the duopoly candidates.  Yep, money talks!

In California, on the other hand, Green governor candidate Laura Wells received over 100,000 votes, but was arrested just for showing up as an audience member–with a ticket , no less–when she tried to attend the Brown-Whitman debate.  What was I saying about this being a fascist country?  The plutocracy allows us freedom of thought and action as long as it doesn’t pose a serious threat to them.  But I digress….

In South Carolina, Green Party Senate candidate Tom Clements, whom I featured in an earlier story,  received over 120,000 votes, about 9% of the total.  Democrat Alvin Greene, who did not campaign and is under indictment on felony obscenity charges, got 360,000 votes.  Talk about “yellow dog Democrats”!

Here in Tennessee, the news was not so good.  We were only able to field two candidates, Howard Switzer for Governor, and John Miglietta for Nashville’s seat in the US House.  Both candidates were constrained by lack of funding and the need to keep their day jobs–Howard as an architect, and John as a professor at Tennessee State–and were not able to do much in the way of campaigning or publicity.  Howard received about 1800 votes, off 25% from his  his previous total, and John received less than 400 votes, only a tenth of his 2008 mark.  About the best I can say concerning Howard’s showing is that voters in all but 5 Tennessee counties cast ballots for him, even if the so-called “hippies” at the Farm were no help–Howard only got 18 votes in Lewis county.  C’mon guys!  Won’t even throw down for one of your own when you know the Democrat’s a loser?

In addition to time and funding issues, both Howard and John suffered from a more crowded ballot and the state of Tennessee’s continuing failure to name the Green Party on its ballots.  We are an internationally known and recognized brand, dammit, and voters deserve to know our party affiliation!  We will be talking with our legislators about this soon, believe me.

There’s two more questions to address in this electoral report:

1)was the voting honest?

2) how will this influence the course of events in the US and the world?

Honesty–so far, there are few allegations of fraud, although, with touchscreen machines, it’s very hard to tell.  It looks to me like this election was “thrown” by throwing the Democrat Party’s progressives out of the boat and by conservatives throwing lots of money at it.  Who needs to cheat when you can buy an election fair and square?

My predictions for the future–we will continue to drift helplessly towards the waterfall.  The party of dithering has been replaced by the party of denial.  Whether you do nothing about the waterfall that you know lies ahead or deny there’s a waterfall ahead, there’s still a waterfall in our future, and we’re still unprepared as a nation for the end of cheap oil and American hegemony.  This election just makes it clearer that the government will not bail us out.  We’re going to have to do it on our own.   You’re not going to hear that on the news, for two reasons:  one, it’s not new, and, two, the revolution will not be televised.  Never has been, never will be.  You just gotta do it.

music:  Gogol Bordello, “Raise the Knowledge”





A DAY AT THE RACES

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”






RALPH RIDES AGAIN

8 03 2008

Like another prophet from the eastern Mediterranian, Ralph Nader has arisen. Unlike Jesus, Nader probably wishes he didn’t have to. At his age he would probably rather be mentoring somebody young, energetic, and charismatic, and not be subjecting himself to the slings and arrows of outrageous liberals. But, with his favorite Democrat, John Edwards, out of the race, the Clintons having shown him the cold shoulder since 1996, and Barak Obama choosing to watch TV rather than find time to meet with him, what else could an unreasonable man of principle do? It’s not just Ford Pintos that are “unsafe at any speed,” it’s the American electoral process.

You know, it really burns me up that Barak Obama takes time to watch “The Wire,” a TV show about the drug war, but won’t make time to meet Ralph Nader. That’s your mind on television, Barak, and frankly I think it displays remarkably poor judgement–not that Hillary’s is any better.

Both remaining Democratic Party candidates are from la-la land, dedicated to perpetuating the American Dream–which is called “The American Dream” because you have to be asleep to believe it. Neither Barak nor Hillary is speaking to the real issues–the unrestrained imperialism that has made America the pariah of the world, the unquestioned lifestyle that takes enough food to feed a person for a year and turns it into one tank of so-called “biofuel” for an SUV, the collapsed economy that is diminishing possibilities for reform faster than you can say “economic stimulus,” the criminal administration that, judged by the standards that were set by a previous US government at Nuremburg in 1946, should be sent to the gallows by the dozens.

Now, I need to point out here that I don’t think the death penalty is appropriate for anyone. I have spent enough time in jail to know that a lifetime behind bars is a far crueller punishment that the release of death. And by the way, I got that from less than a week in the slammer. But, I digress….

Ralph may or may not run as the Green Party candidate this time. Not everyone in the GP was impressed by our fling with him in 2000, and I can understand why. The simplest way to put it is that he is used to being in charge, and the GP likes to run by consensus. He also has a much higher profile than anybody else the Greens could run, which annoys some Greens and appeals to others.

My own opinion about third-party presidential runs is that they are an expensive exercise in futility unless the party in question is already dominant in several states and has representatives and senators at the national level, but that they are also necessary for the integrity of the third parties involved. So, from my view, the Greens ought to run Ralph Nader while we can. At 74, we’re not gonna have him to kick around much longer. Sorry, Cynthia McKinney–you’re black, you’re female, you’re outspoken, but you got time to wait.

At the state level, former Green Party US Senate candidate Chris Lugo, who has spent two months as the only person seeking the Democratic nomination to run against slick, popular fascist Lamar Alexander this year, has been written out of the Dims’ script.  Mike Padgett, a Clinton/Democratic Leadership Council hack, and Bob Tuke, an Obammoid, are staging a Tweedledee/Tweedledumber battle for the right to (probably) lose to Alexander, who has been endorsed by numerous so-called Democrats. Gov. Bredesen has even gone so far as to discourage people from running against Lamar. Ain’t democracy wonderful?

Lugo has been frozen out of candidate forums and media exposure, and even told to “go to Hell” by some DP members. That’s what you get in this country when your slogan is “Vote for Peace,” apparently. Chris is still considering his options. I think he should do his best to stay in the Democratic race, but that’s an expensive row to hoe and I’m in no position to help him. Padgett and Tuke have hired bigtime PR firms and are in the process of raising millions, which you can bet ain’t coming in $25 chunks from Joe Voter. It’s about the money, folks, not about who’s right. But you knew that.

music: Aretha Franklin, “Respect”








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