It’s been a long time since I composed the previous (anti-Obama) posts. And let me say that Obama has not only completely vindicated the scorn I previously expressed, he has gone way beyond my wildest fears. I need to say something about Obama that might strike you as incredible. It certainly strikes me as incredible. But…
OBAMA IS WORSE THAN GEORGE W. BUSH!
Let that statement sink in for a moment. Bush was the worst (as well as the most powerful) U.S. president in history up to that point in time. He murdered, in cold blood, hundreds of thousands of people and directly and indirectly helped impoverish perhaps millions more (including me). He lied so brazenly and so often that the only times you could safely say he was not lying were those rare, blessed moments when his mouth was shut.
Yet Obama has trumped him for sheer awfulness. Bush angrily tore the Constitution to pieces. Obama, the Constitutional scholar, has taken the pieces, shredded them and recycled them. His “Yes We Can” (originally, the left motto “Si se puede”) brand has now been re-worded as the motto of the cartoon villain Megamind: “No You Can’t.” As far as warmongering (he actually expanded our wars to include Pakistan and now Libya), destruction of civil liberties (particularly in Guantanamo, which he had once vowed to shut down), persecution of whistleblowers (his treatment of the as-yet untried Bradley Manning will live in infamy), sucking up to Wall Street and general nasty hypocrisy are concerned, he at least equals and even surpasses his appalling predecessor.
If I had to pick one incident that for me summarizes the Obama White House, it’s the Osama Death Photo Incident. After executing lynch mob justice on Osama bin Laden (and please, don’t give me that “Osama didn’t deserve a trial” crap: after WWII, the Allies tried HERMANN GOERING for Chrissake, and they would have tried Hitler himself if he had been captured alive), there was intense internal debate within the White House whether to release the pictures of the al-Qaeda “mastermind” with a bullet hole in his head.
This was a real dilemma for Obama: he could withhold the pictures and have part of the world say that his claim of having whacked Obama was a lie, or he could release them and risk driving Islamic fundamentalists violently berserk. He chose the former course purely out of cynical realpolitik, knowing that some people would challenge his proud claim of cold-blooded murder even if the photos were published for all the world to see.
But of course, Obama being Obama, he needs to recast this decision as High Idealism. In an upcoming 60 Minutes interview partially leaked to the press, Obama blandly pontificated:
It is very important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence — as a propaganda tool. That’s not who we are. You know, we don’t trot out this stuff as trophies. We don’t need to spike the football.
(Nixon loved football, too, and liked to speak in metaphors derived from that sport.)
As an activist Facebook friend of mine commented: “I see: it is not the shooting in the head, but the image of the bloody head that would constitute a problem.” And if brandishing your enemy’s head like a barbarian chieftain is “not what we’re about,” why was there such intense internal debate about the decision within the White House in the first place?
Idiots can chant “USA! USA!” outside the White House, but I think all sensitive and knowledgeable people should be sickened by this hypocrisy. (And don’t get me started on the illegal attempted hit on Gaddafi, which killed innocent children without so much as a whisper of an apology from the UN or the US.) But of course, that will not stop good Democrats from voting for Obama next year. Democratic politicians can act even more like gangsters than Republicans, but turning to a progressive third party like the Greens is “off the table” for these handwringing innocents.
Perhaps Geoffrey Robertson, one of Julian Assange’s defense lawyers, put it best, as quoted here: “Mr. Obama’s assertion that justice was done was ‘a total misuse of language,’ Mr. Robertson said. ‘This is the justice of the Red Queen: sentence first, trial later.’” Actually, Robertson is a tad confused: it was Louis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts, not The Red Queen, who said that. But on second thought, it sounds right: to be the Queen (or King) of Hearts, you first have to have one.
You’ve heard this spiel before. Obama, during the campaign, was just playing possum to get elected. Hiding his true Progressive nature. Pitching himself as a “centrist” to big business and scared whites while cunningly concealing his real agenda. Crawling until he could fly. And then, once he was elected, he would show his true colors and the left-wing Millennium would begin.
So now Obama has won the Presidency. By a landslide. His “honeymoon” period has already begun. During his term of office, he will never have more freedom to do what he wants than in the next few months. So what is his first act as President-elect? He appoints RAHM EMANUEL as chief of staff.
Who is Rahm Emanuel? He is the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House, behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Leader Steny Hoyer, and Whip Jim Clyburn. His mentor is Bill Clinton. He has strong ties to the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), the organization that, in the late 1980s and in the 1990s, under Clinton, shredded the Democratic Party’s few remaining links to its populist New Deal traditions. He is a member in good standing of the New Democrat Coalition, described by Wikipedia as a group of Democratic Senators and Congresspersons “who claim moderate and pro-business stances.” In 2002, he supported Bush’s plan to invade Iraq, but lamented that Bush had not found the right message to sell the war to the American people.
Most importantly, he was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair for the 2006 elections. In this devastating 2007 Truthout exposé, Matt Renner reported how Emanuel, while claiming neutrality, strongly supported, with contributions and other forms of pressure, pro-war, pro-business Democratic House candidates, like Tammy Duckworth in Illinois (who was backed by Barack Obama), while deep-freezing all antiwar Democrats, like Christine Cegelis (running in the same Illinois district as Duckworth). By the way, Duckworth lost, whereas the charismatic Cegelis would probably have won, but that did not seem to phase Emanuel. In other words, he is probably more responsible than anybody in the House (except Pelosi) for keeping the Democratic Party a pro-war, pro-corporate party.
Obama might well be considering keeping on Robert Gates as Defense Secretary. He is also considering appointing his economic advisor Austan Goolsbee, who is consistently described as a “centrist” (read: Republican-lite), as Treasury Secretary.
The myth of “Obama the Closet Progressive” is dead. Can we bury it now?
IF YOU HAVE HOPE FOR REAL CHANGE – THEN VOTE GREEN PARTY – ROW H [New York State] ON ELECTION DAY, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4TH.
The Green Party candidates for president and vice president, Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente, are an historic ticket. These two women of color, a former six-term Democratic Congresswoman from Georgia and a journalist and founder of the National Hip Hop Caucus have teamed up to bring a message of peace, democracy, justice and ecological sanity to the 2008 national elections.
Never in recent history has the momentum and engagement in a presidential race been at this level, but registered voters and Obama volunteers are not the only numbers that are at a record high. So is the gap between rich and poor. Foreclosures have risen dramatically. Unemployment is on the rise. Our planet is in more danger than ever before.
Why should you vote for McKinney and Clemente on the Green Party line?
Because both the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates will continue to spend precious resources – our young people and our money – on war and the military. McCain will bomb his way to “victory” in Iraq while Obama will redirect resources from Iraq to Afghanistan.
Neither candidate has a convincing plan to control emissions. And both support new coal and nuclear power plants.
The Green Party candidates, Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente, will drastically cut military spending, stop the building of new nuclear power plants and implement a bold plan that will provide real oversight and control over the Wall Street robber barons.
By voting GREEN this Election Day you’ll be saying:
YES to total withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan!
YES to universal, single-payer health care!
YES to national living wage!
YES to reducing emissions to 25% by 2020
YES to renewable solar power and wind energy!
YES to a crackdown on corporate crime!
YES to ending the drug war!
YES to restoring Constitutional civil rights!
YES to abolishing the death penalty!
YES to electoral and campaign finance reform
YES TO PEOPLE’S NEEDS AND NOT CORPORATE GREED!
Here in New York State, the Green Party is the only party that runs candidates who adhere to these values– your values. When we encourage you to vote for candidates on the Green Party line – you can be sure that what our candidates say and do is based on our party’s platform.
While both the Democratic and Republican candidates have spent record breaking amounts of money on this election from big corporate donors and special interest groups, the Green Party takes no corporate donations. So please show your support by making a secure donation on line at gpnys.org [if you are in New York State].
Vote Truth 08 – Vote McKinney/Clemente – Vote Green Party Row H! [If not in NYS, check if the McKinney/Clemente ticket is on the ballot in your state; if not, ask your poll worker to instruct you in casting a write-in ballot for the Green Party ticket.]
The Green Party stands for: Non-violence – grassroots democracy – social and economic justice – ecological wisdom
Green Party of New York State
In an official statement the McCain campaign says: “We’re shaken up by this. It’s sick and disgusting.”
- KDKA.com – 10/23/08
It certainly is! Indeed, everything about the stupid hoax perpetrated by Ashley Todd, a McCain campaign worker from Texas temporarily based in Pennsylvania — in which she claimed that a six-foot-four black man robbed her at an ATM and then, when he saw the McCain sticker on her car, beat her, held her down and carved a “B” into her right cheek — reeks of the hysterical tabloid idiocy so typical of American public discourse whenever race is concerned.
Even more disturbing is the role of the McCain campaign in all this. Instead of keeping Ms. Todd at arm’s length until the facts of the “crime” could be verified, the campaign — and the candidate and his running mate themselves — jumped in feet first. McCain provided the quote above in an official statement, and Palin reportedly called the (apparently mentally ill) young woman herself to commiserate with her on the heinous attack that wasn’t. Neither candidate so much as questioned a tall tale that evoked the most blatantly racist stereotypes of black males as violent, out-of-control thieves and attackers. It makes one wonder if, in the screening room of McCain’s and Palin’s minds, an old D. W. Griffith movie of sweet white flesh assaulted by bestial ex-slaves runs in an endless tape loop.
But it gets better. The McCain campaign’s Pennsylvania Communications Director, Peter Feldman, according to Raw Story, deliberately pitched an “inflammatory” version of Todd’s hoax to reporters that was far worse than the version released by police (who, it turns out, never believed Todd’s story in the first place). According to Feldman, Todd’s mythical attacker told her, “You’re with the McCain campaign? I’m going to teach you a lesson.” Apparently, the brute was endowed with psychic powers, as he was able to figure out that Todd was a campaign volunteer from the mere fact of her car sporting a McCain sticker. Feldman even claimed that the “B” carved into her face (which she created herself, using a mirror) stood for “Barack” – a claim Todd herself apparently never made. Feldman, of course, was never asked by reporters to explain why the “B” was carved backwards.
This incident ennobles no one. Matt Drudge’s decision to run a “teaser story” about the fictional assault demonstrates yet again his poisonous influence on American Journalism. Although some reporters claim never to have bought into the story, they ran it anyway — so much for the liberal media. The McCain camp, by beieving the story uncritically, has disgraced itself, and will surely be dealing with the foul odor from this scandal from now until Election Day. Even the Obama camp is not untouched. Obama seemed a bit too eager to believe the outrageous story and sent his condolences to the young woman while condemning the “crime.”
Only Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party Presidential candiate, has directly and responsibly addressed the issue of race in this campaign. But her run for the presidency has been completly ignored by a media establishment that would rather print or broadcast false stories that appeal to people’s worst instincts and fears than discuss soberly the relationship of government to race. Details about Cynthia’s positions on race belong to another post. But once again she has risen above the political mire in which the corporate press and both mainstream political parties seem permanently trapped.
A final note: everyone involved might have done well to recall that “Todd” (“tod”), in German, means “dead.” As in “dead presidential campaign” — McCain’s.
A Reply to “An Appeal to Third Party Voters, Make the Difference for Obama” by Tom Hayden (Huffington Post)
For a very long time, I have admired your work for civil rights and for peace. Therefore, I feel that you have the right to know why I cannot and will not vote for Barack Obama.
It is simply not true that George W. Bush won the 2000 election, or that all but a few “thousand” people believe this. The evidence proves that, if all the votes cast in Florida that year had been counted, Gore would have won. The Greens were scapegoated by a Democratic Party that supported most of the Bush agenda.
Though Obama allegedly opposes the Iraq War, he will leave troops to defend our “national interest” — oil — and will *expand* the war in Afghanistan. To vote for Obama, a war candidate masquerading as a peace candidate, would betray my most cherished beliefs.
In the very near future, if political trends continue, the human race will either become extinct, or will exist in such wretchedness that extinction would be preferable. The Green Party advocates new ways of dealing with these crises. Both the Democratic and Republican parties are ideologically exhausted.
If Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party gets just five percent of the vote on November 4th, the Greens will gain ballot access and funding and become a powerful force for progressive values. Therefore, I challenge you, Tom Hayden, to be true to the convictions of your youth, and pull the lever for Cynthia McKinney on Election Day for *real* change.
More on Barack Obama
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
Giving Wall Street $800 Billion in taxpayer’s money — over $2000 for every man, woman and child in America — was supposed to free up credit markets and stabilize the economy, right? Yeah, right!
Perhaps the most shocking political episode in my lifetime has been the completely cynical and corrupt surrender of the Democratically-controlled Congress to the Wall Street speculators (aka, thieves), whose almost unbelievably reckless policies brought this gigantic mess upon us. And the punchline of this sick joke is that this criminal act of base thievery has not brought us economic security as advertised, but utter chaos. An entire country, Iceland, is on the verge of going under! From Britain to Australia, all is turmoil, confusion, FEAR. And everyone is saying or thinking: this can’t go on, the market’s going to bottom out soon… isn’t it?
I’m convinced that this has happened because the Left doesn’t exist in America as a political force. Progressive people meeting, talking, demonstrating, writing blogs (like this one)… all that means nothing. All the talk and good intentions of good people can be cancelled literally at the stroke of Bush’s pen, or at the whim of the utterly cynical Nancy Pelosi, whose only thought is not, “How can we public servants help the people?” but “How can we political hacks avoid damage and gain power?” The only reason the bailout took a week to get through Congress was because of the resistance of wingnut Ayn Rand Republicans! The Democratic leadership were completely okay with giving away the people’s money to their buddies in the financial services industry. The Party that refused to impeach the sociopath George Bush and the truly evil Dick Cheney, ostensibly on the grounds that they were lame ducks and couldn’t do any more harm, have now allowed those two criminals to start one last war: the war against the American taxpayer!
Have Bush/Pelosi gone too far? Will the American people stand for this? I was coming home on the subway tonight and all I saw around me were people napping, reading bad newspapers, nodding out… oblivious. Yet the events of the past few weeks might ultimately cause more misery — more starvation, more homelessness, more hopelessness – than America has seen since the Great Depression.
Who wins the election almost doesn’t matter. (Yes, McCain/Palin might attack Iran, and that does matter.) President Obama is not going to pull us out of this mess. (Somebody has rightly written that, if Barack wins, his new slogan might well be, “No, we can’t,” as in “no, we can’t have any more social services because there’s no more money.”) President McCain definitely won’t pull us out of it. Only We the People can pull us out of this.
If Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party gets 5% of the national vote, that would at least be a beginning, because it would raise the Greens to major party status and give Progressives a voice in government. But whether McKinney succeeds or not, it’s up to the people to get mad and fight back, by doing direct action, by organizing strikes, by never letting our lying, traitorous “representatives” off the hook. As Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young once sang, “We’re finally on our own.”
They’re calling it “Black Monday,” but this historic day, September 29, 2008, represents a bright victory for the People. The leadership of both the Republican and Democratic Parties ¾ particularly the latter ¾ with Bush right behind them, tried to ram the Wall Street Charlatans Relief Act into law this afternoon. But a funny thing happened. The People suddenly woke up and at long last realized they’re in a class war. They shouted “NO” with one voice ¾ and I mean that literally: according to one report I heard, emails and phone calls coming in to legislators were running 100 to 1 against the bailout bill as it stands. Whether any such bill can pass the Congress now is open to question. But the People certainly will not tolerate a measure that rescues the arrogant masters of the financial world ¾ who contribute little or nothing of value to the real world ¾ yet does nothing for ordinary folk and their increasingly terrifying problems.
One of the few positive provisions originally proposed for the bill ¾ but later rejected ¾ was one that gave bankruptcy judges the right to alter the terms of mortgages for homeowners facing foreclosure. And just this morning, in this interview, by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now of Congressman Dennis Kucinich, he revealed that he had been informed that his party’s presidential candidate, Barack Obama, during negotiations on the bailout at the White House last week, had specifically requested that the bankruptcy proposal mentioned above be excluded from the bill. So not only was Obama an eyewitness to this screwing of the average homeowner, he was actively complicit in the process.
In fact, both Obama and McCain (as well as Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank and the whole Democratic leadership) were playing it dumb today, casting blame on their opponents for the death of the bill. If they had any real political savvy, they would take credit for the bill’s failure, so hateful is that piece of legislation to most Americans!
I will have more to talk about on this in a future posting. Suffice it to say that this was a very bad day for Wall Street, which means that it was a very good day for the rest of us.
According to this story in The New York Times, Washington was in a state of utter chaos on Thursday ¾ or, as Sean O’Casey would have said, “a state o’ chassis” ¾ over the proposed bailout, using taxpayer money, of the thieves and frauds of Wall Street. Actually the Times piece reads more like a Monty Python skit (see my post on Michael Palin, below), so full of demented dialogue and comic bits of business was the account (given by an eyewitness and several people briefed later) of the negotiations that went on in the White House, as both Democrats and Republicans tried to make up their minds how best to steal the people’s hard-earned cash. The POTUS, George W. Bush, was actually quoted as saying, “If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down.” Apparently, the “sucker” to which Bush was referring was the American financial system as a whole, not John Q. Citizen… but I suppose that interpretation might also make sense.
Who put a stop to what had originally been planned as the biggest, fastest swindle on record? Was it Barack Obama or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who declared that this act of highway robbery would not stand? Of course not. Exactly as occurred during the failed Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Myers, it was Bush’s own party that balked ¾ to the Democrats’ shame. No less a right-wing bigwig than House GOP Leader John Boehner came out publicly against the bailout, putting forth his own cockamamie plan that involved the use of government-backed insurance to purchase the failed banks’ mortgage-based securities. According to the article, for several days conservative Republicans on the Hill had fretted that a government intervention of such magnitude would serve as “a step down the path to socialism.” (If only…)
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (who, contrary to popular opinion, is unrelated to the late comedian and presidential candidate Pat Paulsen) made a desperate attempt to save his $700 billion bailout plan. His zeal was understandable, since the proposal, which eliminates all possibility of Congressional or judicial oversight, would have made the Secretary, whose lax supervision of the markets helped bring about the mess in the first place, a kind of tsar of the American economy. In the heat of the moment, Paulson in the Roosevelt Room actually got down on one knee before Pelosi, not to propose marriage but to beg her not to “blow it all up” by withdrawing her support for the bailout. To this, Pelosi was reported to have quipped, “I didn’t know you were Catholic.” (I’m not making this stuff up!) Then she added, all too accurately: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”
The real comic relief, though, was supplied by John McCain. Big John suddenly decided that he was so indispensable to the process that he suspended his campaign ¾ canceling and then uncanceling his scheduled appearance at Friday’s televised debate with Obama, with the McCain campaign stupidly declaring victory in an ad in the Wall Street Journal before the debate even took place ¾ and speeded to Washington to save the day, like a political superhero. When he got to the Big Meeting in the Cabinet Room, however, he had practically nothing to say, which is not surprising, as he apparently did not bother to read Secretary Paulson’s plan, which is all of three pages long and widely published on the Internet. Obama ¾ the smart imperialist to McCain’s buffoonish one ¾ reportedly “peppered” Paulson with questions without committing himself, and after this seasoning lambasted his opponent at a news conference for kibitzing where he wasn’t wanted. What is truly revolting, however, is what the Times article revealed in passing: that (if the Republican leadership is to be believed) the Democrats cynically tried and failed to “jam through” an agreement on Thursday morning ¾ one that would have cost every man, woman, teenager and toddler in America over $2000 ¾ just to deny McCain the opportunity to participate in the negotiations later on and possibly gain some political capital.
The Times itself is clearly in favor of the biggest possible bailout as quickly as possible, ostensibly to avert a recession ¾ I thought we were already in one ¾ without taking into account such perils as inflation, or even hyperinflation. (That $700 billion has to come from somewhere, and since no sane politician is going to advocate the raising of that much money in new taxes, the cash would have to be produced by the government simply printing more money, devaluing the dollar yet further.) The prospect of America repeating the history of Germany in the 1920s, when ordinary people had to trundle their wildly inflated wages home in wheelbarrows, has now become by no means an improbable one. By throwing a monkey wrench into the bipartisan deal, Representative Boehner may have committed an inadvertently patriotic act.
By contrast, Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney has come up with an eminently reasonable proposal, one that favors ordinary Americans, not the masters of Wall Street. In her essay, Seize the Time, McKinney proposed the following list of steps (by no means exhaustive) to deal with the crisis:
- Enactment of a foreclosure moratorium now before the next phase of ARM interest rate increases take effect;
- Elimination of all ARM mortgages and their renegotiation into 30- or 40-year loans;
- Establishment of new mortgage lending practices to end predatory and discriminatory practices;
- Establishment of criteria and construction goals for affordable housing;
- Redefinition of credit and regulation of the credit industry so that discriminatory practices are completely eliminated;
- Full funding for initiatives that eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in home ownership;
- Recognition of shelter as a right according to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, to which the U.S. is a signatory, so that no one sleeps on U.S. streets;
- Full funding of a fund designed to cushion the job loss and provide for retraining of those at the bottom of the income scale as the economy transitions;
- Close all tax loopholes and repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the top 1% of income earners;
- Fairly tax corporations, denying federal subsidies to those who relocate jobs overseas; repeal NAFTA.
So progressives have a critical choice this year. They will have to decide whether they want to give their vote and support to Cynthia McKinney, a candidate with fresh ideas who is not beholden to the money men (and if McKinney receives just five percent of the total vote on Election Day, the Green Party would then become a major force in U.S. politics), or an intelligent yet empty agent of the corporate state like Barack Obama. If they don’t choose correctly, the “sucker” may indeed “go down.”
We all know the old dance: it’s a very ancient and corrupt American custom. In an election year, two candidates of the same mainstream party bitterly contest the primaries. Each tries to make the case that to vote for the other guy or gal would be tantamount to destroying the country. To attain the Holy Grail of the party’s nomination, each candidate puts her/his opponent through a process seemingly designed not only to make him or her lose, but to sully that candidate’s professional and personal reputation beyond repair. And when the dust settles and one candidate emerges victorious, the defeated candidate suddenly forgets that the opponent is Evil Incarnate and for the sake of something called Party Unity casts aside all pretense of consistency, integrity and self-respect, shifting the axis of evil to the standard bearer of the other political party and embracing the new nominee and former enemy as a long lost buddy, with whom he/she has never had any ideological differences worth talking about (this last part, sadly, is almost always true).
But one major party candidate this year refused to perform this insane dance. Texas Congressman Ron Paul fought hard against John McCain during the Republican primaries, disagreed with him on practically every issue, and was ultimately buried by the McCain juggernaut. But he refused to play the game. He was much too principled, too committed to his core beliefs — of which McCain is the very antithesis — to compromise. So when the call came from his fellow Texan, Phil Gramm (by the way, isn’t Gramm not supposed to be working for the McCain campaign anymore?), with the message, “You need to endorse John McCain,” Ron Paul politely but firmly said No.
As the good doctor later described it, the demand was not quite as bullying as it may sound. Knowing well his colleague’s stubbornness, Gramm tried to make the argument in terms of his, Paul’s, self-interest. McCain, Gramm claimed, was going to cut taxes more than Obama, so logically the Republican candidate would do “less harm” than the Democratic one. But the congressman knew that to cave in now to GOP pressure would be to betray everything he’d worked and voted for in his career. Besides, as he would later remark, “I don’t like the idea of getting two or three million people angry at me.” The decision was not a difficult one.
But his next decision may well have been. Instead of fading into the night as the glare of the media spotlight moved on to McBama, Dr. Paul chose to be a beacon of true democracy. No longer a candidate himself, Paul called a press conference at the National Press Club on September 10th to bring attention to third-party candidates and thus shine a light not only on all the crucial issues that the two frontrunners refuse to tackle, but on the extent to which our democracy itself has been snuffed out by the single corporate party with two heads and its media lapdogs.
He invited to the press conference Independent candidate Ralph Nader, Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr (who for reasons of his own declined to appear) and my own candidate, Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party. Amazingly, the three politicians who showed up and Dr. Paul — despite their numerous and strong ideological differences — agreed on a four-point statement of principles, opposing:
- A foreign policy that commits the US to disastrous foreign wars like the one in Iraq, which destroys lives and depletes our treasury;
- The erosion of our constitutionally-protected civil liberties, including the Patriot Act, the approval of torture and the FISA bill;
- The runaway growth of the national debt, which creates an intolerable burden for future generations; and
- Corporate bailouts and the untrammeled power of the Federal Reserve system.
Dr. Paul in his presentation was gracious, modest, eminently reasonable. He deplored the “lesser of two evils” psychology which leads citizens to vote for people of whom they do not approve. He urged people not to waste their vote on politicians and policies in which they don’t believe. He also deplored the mainstream media and its obsession with “lipstickgate” and other nonsensical “issues.”
Then the candidates each got up to speak. Though they are united in their conviction that the system must be changed, each presented a different point-of-view. My candidate, Cynthia McKinney, reminded people of the Four Pillars of the Green Party: Peace, Social Justice, Ecological Wisdom and Grassroots Democracy. She remarked that when she left the Democratic Party, she “declared [her] independence” from an unjust system, a “politics of conformity and control.” She added that we engage in politics ”so we can have power over public policy.” Politics is, after all, the “authoritative allocation of values in a society,” and that only a tiny minority of Americans now have their values affirmed in this society, wheras most of us have our values affirmed “practically none of the time.” She urged voters to “declare [their] independence” from the current system.
It must be said in truth that I disagree, and in some cases strongly disagree, with some of Ron Paul’s views. But I cannot help but admire his patriotism and integrity, as well as a virtue almost unheard of in politicians today: courage. Thank you, Dr. Paul!
In Andover, Massachusetts on the weekend of September 13-14, there will be a conference exploring means to obtain prosecutions of Bush and high-level members of his administration for war crimes. It is being organized by Lawrence Velvel, the Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law. Though not the first such event (the World Tribunal on Iraq, a worldwide series of tribunals which explored the legal culpability of Bush and Blair for their actions before, during and after the invasion, held a session in New York City in May, 2004), the conference is a step in the direction of holding the Bushies legally accountable for their crimes.
The link to the conference home page can be found here.
The following is their press release:
A two-day conference on obtaining prosecutions of high level American war criminals will open September 13th, in Andover, Mass. The conference will explore the legal grounds for, and plan for, obtaining prosecutions of President Bush and top officials of his Administration for war crimes.
In the tradition of America’s Chief Prosecutor at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials after World War II, Justice Robert Jackson, the Conference’s purpose is “to hold high U.S. officials accountable in courts of law and, if guilt is found, to obtain appropriate punishments. Otherwise,” said the Conference’s convener, Lawrence Velvel, “the future will be threatened by additional examples of Executive lawlessness by leaders who need fear no personal consequences” for their actions, leading to “the possibility of more Viet Nams, more Iraqs, and more repression.”
Velvel emphasized, “This is intended to be a planning conference, one at which plans will be laid, and necessary organizational structures will be set up, to seek prosecutions to determine guilt and, if guilt is found, appropriate punishments.”
Attendees will hear from prominent authorities on international law, criminal prosecutions, and constitutional rights who are determined to give meaning to Justice Jackson’s words: “The common sense of mankind demands that law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberate and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which leave no home in the world untouched.”
Topics to be discussed, Velvel said, include:
- What international and domestic crimes were committed, which facts show crimes under which laws, and what punishments are possible.
- Which high level Executive officials — and Federal judges and legislators as well, if any — are chargeable with crimes.
- Which international tribunals, foreign tribunals and domestic tribunals (if any) can be used and how to begin cases and/or obtain prosecutions before them.
- The possibility of establishing a Chief Prosecutor’s Office such as the one at Nuremburg.
- An examination of cases already brought and their outcomes.
- Creating an umbrella Coordinating Committee with representatives from the increasing number of organizations involved in war crimes cases.
- Creating a Center to keep track of and organize compilations of relevant briefs, articles, books, opinions, and facts, etc., on war crimes and prosecutions of war criminals.
Scheduled to address the Conference include:
- Famed former Los Angeles prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, author of the best-selling “The Prosecution of George W. Bush For Murder”(Vanguard).
- Phillippe Sands, Professor of Law and Director of the Centre of International Courts and Tribunals at University College, London . He is the author of “Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values” (Penguin/Palgrave Macmillan), among other works.
- Jordan Paust, Professor of Law at the University of Houston and author of “Beyond The Law.”
- Ann Wright, a former U.S. Army colonel and U.S. Foreign Service official who holds a State Department Award for Heroism and who taught the Geneva Conventions and the Law of Land Warfare at the Special Warfare Center at Ft. Bragg, N.C. She is the coauthor of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”
- Peter Weiss, Vice President of the Center For Constitutional Rights, which was recently involved with war crimes complaints filed in Germany and France against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others.
- Benjamin Davis, Associate Professor at the University of Toledo College of Law and former American Legal Counsel for the Secretariat of the International Court of Arbitration.
- David Lindorff, journalist and co-author with Barbara Olshansky of “The Case for Impeachment: Legal Arguments for Removing President George W. Bush from Office”(St. Martin ’s Press).
- Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, responsible for drafting the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, and the U.S. implementing legislation for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention.
- Lawrence Velvel, a leader in the field of law school education reform, has written numerous internet articles on issues relevant to the conference.
Legal authorities, media representatives, and the general public are invited to attend the conference. Attendees will receive a special hotel rate of $99 per night.
Andover is nearly equidistant from both Boston’s Logan Airport , served by all major airlines, and the Manchester , N.H. , Airport, served by Southwest Airlines and USAir.
(Further Information: Jeff Demers (see above) or Sherwood Ross, Ross Associates, Suite 403, 102 S.W. 6th Ave., Miami, FL 33130 or firstname.lastname@example.org)