|Progressive Calendar 02.19.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2008 01:44:54 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 02.19.08 1. Peace/war 2.19-20 10am+ 2. Cuba/Agee/CIA 2.19 5pm 3. Salon/poetry 2.19 6:30pm 4. WAMM/meet-up 2.19 6:30pm 5. 3CD GreenParty 2.19 6:30pm 6. Palestine/film 2.19 7pm 7. Urban chickens 2.19 7pm 8. Dissent 2.19 7:30pm 9. 3CD GP CTV 2.19 10pm 10. God's politics 2.20 11am 11. FullMoonWalk 2.20 7pm 12. Jim Wallis 2.20 7:30pm 13. Eva Liddell - A short history of super-delegates 14. Paul Rockwell - Screw the voters. Let superdelegates decide! 15. Anthony DiMaggio - The Dem party and the business of elections 16. Paul C Roberts - A government devoid of truth and decency 17. ed - Be all (bumpersticker) --------1 of 17-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Peace/war 2.19-20 10am+ "Peace and War in the Heartland" is an intergenerational project, open to all, promoting creative thinking and discussion around moral and constitutional issues facing America's draft-age youth, 18 to 25. FFI: Visit <www.pwh-mn.org>. "American Fundamentals: History, Law, Science and Religion" Tuesday, February 19 University of Minnesota, Coffman Memorial Union, Great Hall, 300 Washington Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis. 10:00 a.m. "The Draft Lottery" presented by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre. 11:00 a.m. Religion: "War and Peace: How Does God Call Me to Serve?" presented by Rabbi Amy Eilberg, Dr. Adil Ozdemir and Frank Kroncke. 1:30 p.m. History: "National Identity Crisis: On Starship Earth, Is America God's Chosen Nation?" presented by Professor David Noble. 5:00 p.m. Law: "Constitutional Crisis: the Dangers of an Imperial Presidency" presented by Professor Joseph Margulies. 6:30 p.m. Science: "National Moral Crisis: Has America Become a Torture State?" presented by Steve Miles, MD. "VetSpeak" panel of veterans respond to presentations. "Women and War" Wednesday, February 20 Augsburg College, East Commons, 2211 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis. 10:00 a.m. "The Draft Lottery" Noon "Women Warriors: Is This Equality?" presented by Chante Wolf. 2:00 p.m. "The Hidden Cost of War: Civilians and the Environment" presented by Mary Beaudoin, WAMM Director. 4:00 p.m. Panel Discussion. "Why Women's Voices are Unique: Passing the Torch" with moderator State Representative Karen Clark. 5:30 p.m. "My Personal Journey" presented by Ann Wright, a high-ranking State Department official who resigned in protest of the Iraq war. "Reclaiming Government as a Source for Good" Thursday, February 21, Noon to 1:00 p.m. Macalester College, Weyerhauser Chapel, 1600 Grand Avenue, St. Paul. In collaboration with Westminister Town Hall Forum, Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners magazine speaks on "Reclaiming Government as a Source for Good." "Minnesota 8 Celebration" Saturday, February 23, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. University of Minnesota, Rarig Center, 330 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis. WAMM receives a "Resist Illegitimate Authority" award at this ceremony honoring the history of anti-war, peace-making and nonviolent activism in Minnesota. "American Democracy in Dissent" Tuesday, February 26, 7:30 p.m. University of Minnesota, Ted Mann Concert Hall, 2128 4th Street South, Minneapolis. Daniel Ellsberg, political activist who released the top secret Pentagon Papers, discusses "American Democracy in Dissent" with University of Minnesota Professor Larry Jacobs. FFI and tickets: Call 612-624-2345 or visit <www.cce.umn.edu/conversations>. Play: "Peace Crimes: The Minnesota Eight vs. The War" Thursday, February 21 through Sunday, March 9 University of Minnesota, Rarig Center, 330 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis. In 1970, a handful of U of M students took a stand against the War in Vietnam. They staged a number of raids on Selective Service Officers and destroyed draft records in protest against the war. Busted by the FBI, the "Minnesota 8" were tried and imprisoned. A play by Doris Baizley and directed by Ron Peluso. FFI and tickets: Visit <www.pwh-mn.org>. --------2 of 17-------- From: Eric AnAgell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Cuba/Agee/CIA 2.19 5pm Open-minded St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN 15) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts in St. Paul on Tuesday evenings at 5pm, after DemocracyNow!, and midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am. All households with basic cable may watch. Tues, 2/19, 5pm and midnight and Wed, 2/20, 10am "One Man's Story: Philip Agee, Cuba and the CIA" Short documentary film about CIA acts in Latin America, particularly Cuba, with commentary by August Nimtz, U of M professor and co-coordinator of the MN Cuba Committee. Hosted by Karen Redleaf. --------3 of 17-------- From: Fred H Olson <fholson [at] cohousing.org> Subject: Salon/poetry 2.19 6:30pm Tuesday, February 19, will be Open Poetry night. Please bring your own or come and listen to others read. Mad Hatter Tea House. W 7th StPaul 6:30pm --------4 of 17-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: WAMM/meet-up 2.19 6:30pm New Member Meet-Up [posted only this once -ed] Tuesday, February 19, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis. Thursday, February 21, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. Caribou Coffee, 12601 Nicollet Avenue, Burnsville. Saturday, February 23, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Black Dog Cafe, 308 Prince Street, St. Paul. Are you new to Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) or looking to be a more active member? Join us at one of our informal New Member Meet-Ups. With a variety of Twin Cities locations and meeting times, we hope you'll find a Meet-Up that fits your schedule! Learn more about WAMM and how you can become an active member. Hear from an experienced WAMM member. Visit with like-minded people. Receive a special welcome packet with free button, bumper sticker and more. Help keep WAMM moving forward. All WAMM members are invited to attend. RSVPs encouraged but not required. FFI and RSVP: Call Ann Galloway, 612-790-8598 or WAMM, 612- 827-5364 or email <gannieca [at] yahoo.com>. --------5 of 17-------- From: alforgreens [at] comcast.net Subject: 3CD GreenParty 2.19 6:30pm 3rd Congressional District Green Party meeting Tuesday, Feb 19 6:30PM (Library closes at 8PM) Hopkins Public Library Paste the following Google map address into your browser for exact location: http://www.google.com/maps?source=uds&daddr=22+11th+Ave.+N.%2C+Hopkins%2C+MN+55343%2C+US +%2822+11th+Ave.+N.%29+%4044.925645%2C-93.414302&iwstate1=dir:to Agenda: -Mar. 4 Green Party Caucuses -Forming a 3rd CD local -Consideration of running a candidate for 3rd CD U.S. Congress -State Legislative issues to support --------6 of 17-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Palestine/film 2.19 7pm There will be a showing of "Occupation 101", a documentary about Israel-Palestine, followed by Q and A with Rev. David Smith, Professor at University of St. Thomas and recent visitor to the Gaza Strip. Tuesday February 19 7pm-9pm Carnegie Hall 206 Macalester College 1600 Grand Ave. St Paul, MN Minnesota Campuses for Justice in Palestine [ mcpj [at] umn.edu ] --------7 of 17-------- From: Faith Krogstad <fkrogstad [at] ECOEDUCATION.ORG> Subject: Urban chickens 2.19 7pm [COMGAR-L] Community Henhouses Meeting The Midway Chickens group is exploring ways to create small-scale, shared urban henhouses in backyards. If you are interested in being part of this discussion, please come to our next meeting on Tuesday, February 19th, 7-8pm at the J & S Bean Factory at the intersection of Hamline & Thomas Aves in St. Paul. I encourage Midway residents to become involved, but the meeting is open to anyone! If you are unable to attend but would like to be in the loop, please email me at faith [at] riseup.net. More about Midway Chickens: Keeping a small flock of chickens in the city is quickly becoming a popular way of producing fresh eggs, teaching children about food, building soil fertility, and reducing your environmental impact. The new Midway Chickens group will be working to help neighbors start small-scale backyard henhouses (individual or shared), and support existing chicken keepers in sharing information and resources. *COMGAR is for community gardeners in the Twin Cities Metro Area (and Greater Minnesota) to share timely information, seek advice from other gardeners, and learn about resources available to gardeners. **Send emails to comgar-l [at] lists.umn.edu. Questions and requests to remove or update subscriptions to info [at] gardenworksmn.org. Archived COMGAR postings available at http://lists.umn.edu/archives/comgar-l.html [COMGAR could have daily fundraisers where people come to see the chickens come home to roost. -ed] --------8 of 17-------- From: david unowsky <david.unowsky [at] gmail.com> Subject: Dissent 2.19 7:30pm MAGERS AND QUINN PRESS RELEASE : For Immediate Distribution :Colonel Ann Wright discusses her book Dissent:Voices Of Conscience (Koa Books) 7:30pm Tuesday February 19 at Magers and Quinn Booksellers. Former State Department diplomat Col. (ret.) Ann Wright has spent four years traveling worldwide speaking out for peace. She has negotiated with Iraqi parliamentarians, spoken in schools, churches, and peace gatherings, including at Guantanamo and the half-million-person demonstration in Washington, D.C, in January 2007, and fasted for more than a month. This is her story, and the story of others in government who leaked documents, blew the whistle, or resigned to protest this administration's policies. Coauthor Susan Dixon is an instructor in the geopolitics of war and peace at the University of Hawai'i. MAGERS AND QUINN BOOKSELLERS 3038 HENNEPIN AVENUE SOUTH MINNEAPOLIS MN 55408 612-822-4611 www.magersandquinn.com --------9 of 17-------- From: alforgreens [at] comcast.net Subject: 3CD GP CTV 2.19 10pm 3rd Congressional District Green Party Show aired on Northwest Cable TV- Brooklyn Park and surrounding suburbs Channel 20 - 30 min show Discussion of Green Party Caucus and Legislative Issues Tues. Feb 19 10PM Wed. Feb 20 4 AM 10AM 4PM --------10 of 17-------- From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at] driscollgroup.com> Subject: God's politics 2.20 11am 11:00 AM WEDNESDAY, FEB 20: SPECIAL: JIM WALLIS: GODıS POLITICS: Religion as Political Dogma. Evangelist and author of God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, JIM WALLIS, talks about his latest book, The Great Awakening. Heıll be joined by the REV. TONY JONES of Edina, National Coordinator of Emergent-US and author of The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life. TTTıs Andy Driscoll and Lynnell Mickelsen welcome this national spokesperson for an alternative view of how religion and faith should play into our nationıs politics and how some evangelists have distorted the role of faith and following in politics, declared conservative ideology the word of God, and George W. Bush as one of ³Godıs chosen people.² AND YOU: Call in: 612-341-0980 Wednesdays at 11:00AM. --------11 of 17-------- From: Sue Ann <mart1408 [at] umn.edu> Subject: FullMoonWalk 2.20 7pm February Walk Full Moon Walk - Stevens House in Minnehaha park Around the Coldwater Area Wednesday, February 20 Gather at 7 PM, at Stevens House, Minnehaha Park, South Minneapolis, the little white house in Minnehaha Park south of the falls. National Park Service interpreter David Wiggins and Lynette Crane, President of the Board of Directors of Stevens House, will talk about early Minnesota--Fort Snelling, Minnehaha Falls, Coldwater Spring and John Stevens, sometimes called the first white resident of Minneapolis. And they will bring us up to date about plans and threats to the Mississippi bluff-top. Bonus: Full Moon Eclipse between 7:43 & 11:09 pm!!!! Traditional group howl! Be prepared to be both indoors and out. Directions: From the traffic circle at Minnehaha Ave. and Minnehaha Parkway (by the Dairy Queen) go south two blocks on Minnehaha Avenue to Stevens House, which is a white house set back from the street on the east side. Parking is available on Minnehaha Avenue. (You may also take Minnehaha Avenue North from 54th St. past the parking lot where we usually meet to the little white Stevens House on the east side of Minnehaha Ave.) --------12 of 17-------- From: Lisa Boyd <tigerlily64 [at] peoplepc.com> Subject: Jim Wallis 2.20 7:30pm JIM WALLIS BOOK READING This Wednesday, February 20 at 7:30 p.m. First Universalist Church is hosting Jim Wallis' reading of his new book, The Great Awakening. In this book, Wallis helps us rediscover our moral center and provides both the need for inspiration and a concrete plan to hold politics accountable and find solutions to our greatest challenges. Jim Wallis is a bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, preacher, and international commentator on religion and public life, faith and politics. This program is free and open to the public. First Universalist Church is located at the corner of 34th St and Dupont Ave S in Minneapolis. FFI: 612-825-1701 or www.firstuniv.org --------13 of 17-------- Hope, Yes! But Pay in Cash A Short History of Super-Delegates By EVA LIDDELL CounterPunch February 18, 2008 During the years of progressive reform before the First World War twenty-six presidential primaries had been introduced into the nominating system. After Woodrow's Wilson bright idea of "spreading democracy abroad" while destroying it at home a demoralized public ceased to take any interest in how presidents got elected. The primary system fell into disuse. Electing presidents was returned to the party "bosses" where it was safe from the people themselves. In the summer of 1968 at the Democratic Convention things had changed. Millions of Americans watched Richard Daly and his thugs on the convention floor rail against those who dared to challenge the party magnates while they rammed Hubert Humphrey, who didn't dare to show up for his own nomination, down the throats of the rank and file. Party leaders and the trade union chiefs (national ward heelers of the Democratic syndicate) saw no reason why the storm that had erupted at the Convention couldn't just be allowed to blow over. Others within the party leadership weren't so sure it would. They set about changing the rules that for a hundred and forty years had insured the Democratic Party was not subjected to ordinary Democrats. After 1972 delegates to the national convention would be chosen by the millions who voted in primaries or caucuses with new rules that ostensibly would keep party leaders from controlling the "voice of the people." In 1976 the ambitious populist masquerader Jimmy Carter applied the new rules of the primary system to his own bid for the nomination. While the Democratic rulers' choice had been Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson Carter demolished him in Pennsylvania by exposing to the people the fact that Jackson was merely a tool of the bosses. He made another big show of exposing other "party insiders" as part of what was "wrong with the country." While the Democratic party elites were not able to thwart his efforts to run as a "man of the people," they saved that for his presidency where they started beating him into submission the moment he took office. At the end of his first four years they even trotted out the loyal party hack Ted Kennedy to run against Carter in a burst of insurgency known around the country as "Teddy-mania." Although Carter had had plenty of influential people back him in the first place with an all-star cast of establishment liberal hawks including Zbigniew Brzezinkski, he was not the choice of the elites of his own party. His running without them had diminished their own importance. While they took revenge and set about destroying his presidency he set about destroying himself, taking the country along with him. The Democratic party used Carter, who proved himself a worthy example, as a demonstration of what happens when "the people" elect their own president. They began changing the rules once again so the people obviously unqualified to choose presidents would be spared the ordeal in the future. During the Reagan years when the Democratic party propped up a presidency reminiscent of its current antics in the George W. Bush years, the Democratic party elites bestowed upon themselves five hundred and fifty "super-delegates." They announced it was imperative to alter the rules to "make it easier for the party to consolidate around front-running candidates." Meaning that it would make it a lot easier for party leaders and the party's money backers to rally around the candidate of their choice putting all the resources of the party behind him, to beat out insurgents and foist the guy they owned onto the voting public. The surprise ascendancy of Barack Obama, interestingly backed by the old Carter hand Brzezinski along with numerous financial backers, has him facing competition from another party insider, Hillary Clinton, along with her own big money people. The super-delegates are finding themselves in the position of having to pick one or the other candidate in what might be an internecine falling out among thieves which only aggrandizes their own power within the party as the two candidates are made supplicants for their votes while promising them rewards. Maybe the super-delegates is one of the reasons Barack Obama talks so much about hope. But he seemed to know early on to cover his bets. Hope may be good enough for the people but not enough for a contender. His contributions to the campaign chests of the super-delegates themselves has been substantial the past two years. Even more so than his opponent who might be doing some hoping herself lately. Currently, enthusiastic Democratic voters are reduced to observers "hoping" that the super-delegates "do the right thing" and not "thwart the will of the people." That the super-delegates were put into place precisely to thwart them might be a bit of old history they don't care to think about at the moment. Why put a damper on hope when it's the only thing you've got. Eva Liddell is a painter who lives in the Pacific Northwest. Her email is Eva.Liddell [at] gmail.com [Thom Hartmann of Air America Radio 950AM defends super-delegates. So much for Thom Hartmann. -ed] --------14 of 17-------- Published on Monday, February 18, 2008 by CommonDreams.org Screw the Voters. Let Superdelegates Decide! by Paul Rockwell Millions of Americans, many of them first-time activists, voted for Barack Obama in the Democratic Party primary. They voted in good faith, expecting their votes to be counted and respected. Now many young voters are discovering that there are two kinds of delegates at Democratic Party Conventions: real delegates (duly elected from the states) and fake delegates, delegates artificially created by the Democratic National Committee. These delegates, who lack direct support from primary voters, are called superdelegates. With over 200,000 signatures, a Move-On petition to Democratic Party superdelegates reads: "The superdelegates should let the voters decide between Clinton and Obama. Then support the people's choice". The seating of delegates at Democratic Party conventions has often been a source of conflict. In 1964, Fanny Lou Hamer led a sit-in on the convention floor. The Mississippi Freedom Democrats wanted nothing more than a few convention seats - seats to which they were entitled by open, fair elections in their home state. Walter Mondale, who was to become the architect of the current superdelgate system, refused to seat the elected delegates of color in 1964. Wait until 1968, Mondale insisted, as the representative of the Credentials Committee. [So much for Walter Mondale. -ed] The non-violent mass movements of the '60s, the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the rise of the feminist movement, the change in voting age, the anti-nuclear campaigns - all generated a groundswell of new voters in Democratic party politics. However, far from welcoming the newly enfranchised activists, party leaders were filled with fear - class and race fear. They never accepted the democratic reforms enacted in the 1970s, when youth and people of color participated for the first time in establishment politics. The superdelegate system, as we know it, came from the backlash of the 1980s. In January 1982, supported by Mondale [Again, so much for him], the Hunt Commission and Democratic National Committee reversed grassroots reforms. They rewrote the rules, not to make elections open and fair, but to make sure that centrist (right-wing) candidates maintained hegemony over nominees and party affairs. It was out of fear of new uncontrollable voters that the Commission created a block of uncommitted delegates drawn from a primarily white, male establishment. Mondale, the same insider who prevented elected Mississipppians from taking their seats in 1964, played the pivotal role in creating hundreds of unelected delegates in 1984. Superdelegates comprised 14 percent of the convention in 1984, and eighty-five percent of the superdelegates picked Mondale. [Surprize surprize] Not long after superdelegates picked "the sure winner," Mondale was trounced in the presidential election. Nevertheless, the superdelgate number passed the 600 mark by 1988. The Jesse Jackson campaign, especially the massive victory over Dukkakis on Super Tuesday, electrified the party and the country. Jackson won 7 million primary votes in 1988, more than Mondale won as the nominee in 1984. Many party regulars were gripped with panic, and some superdelegates organized a stop-Jackson movement within the party. Jackson protested the role of superdelegates, but his challenge went unheeded. Party leaders continued to look for ways to blunt the growing power of grassroots movements. While they could not stop voters from voting, they could dilute the impact of the reform movements by manufacturing added voters as a countervailing force. Mondale was quite open about the undemocratic aims of the superdelegate system. In a number of talks, he acknowledged that superdelegates were created with the explicit aim of preventing voter insurgencies. He espoused his anti-democratic sentiments in the New York Times, February 2, 1992, where he called for expansion of superdelgate numbers: "The election is the business of the people. But the nomination is more properly the business of the parties..The problem lies in the reforms that were supposed to open the nominating process..Party leaders have lost the power to screen candidates and select a nominee. The solution is to reduce the influence of the primaries and boost the influence of the party leaders..The superdelgate category established within the Democratic Party after 1984 allows some opportunity for this, but should be strengthened.. Today, faced with enthusiastic, grassroots support for Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton now espouses the old Mondale position (in the guarded, euphemistic language of a candidate), pitting the party regulars against the danger of the popular vote. I do not intend here to compare the merits of the candidates. But there is a question of principle involved in the superdelgate controversy. The very integrity of our elections is at stake. No vote is safe when a self-appointed group can nullify the results of a primary election that displeases them. When Obama recently told a reporter that he thinks superdelegates should respect the wishes of the primary voters, Clinton took exception. "Superdelegates are by design supposed to exercise independent judgment," she said. She also claimed that Obama's view is "contrary to what the definition of superdelegate has historically been". Historically she is right, of course. Superdelegates were never expected to respect the integrity of elections. But are we compelled today to embrace a system that was corrupt in its very design? Should voters be supervised, and finally overruled, when the superdelegates disagree with their wishes? All Democratic members of the House and Senate become superdelegates automatically. Let us not forget that George Bush led the vast majority of Democrats by the nose into pre-emptive war, implicating most of the current superdelegates in the biggest catastrophe of recent decades. What makes these individuals wiser than nurses, technicians, custodians, lawyers, teachers, athletes, fire fighters, proprietors - all who voted in good faith in the recent primary? Why don't the superdelegates do the job they were elected to do - end the war - and let the voters do their job in the primaries - select the next nominee? And finally, what is the difference between superdelegate intervention in the outcome of the primary and the right-wing intervention in Florida in 2000, when Republican judges stopped the counting of votes, and appointed Bush as President? How many times will the loser in an election be imposed on the electorate? Superdelgate Intervention Unconstitutional Even critics of superdelegate deals tend to underestimate the gravity of the issue. In its very essence, the superdelegate system is unconstitutional. It destroys the right of primary voters to choose their own nominee. It offends the principle of one person one vote. In three primary cases (Nixon v. Herndon, 1927, Nixon v. Condon, 1932, Smith v. Allwright, 1944) the Supreme Court affirmed that the right to vote in a primary (a right which includes the right to be counted and respected), is protected by the Constitution. Officials cannot legally circumvent the vote. These were discrimination cases, but the arguments apply directly to the superdelegate situation in the Democratic primary. Up to a point, a political party is master of its own house. But no party, or group within a party, can legally tamper with primary results. In Terry v. Adams (1953), the Court ruled against the "Jay Bird Association," a group of powerful white Democrats who tried to create a private enforcement process within the Democratic primary. Justice Clark ruled that "any part of the machinery for choosing officials becomes subject to the Constitution's restraints". The superdelegate system flouts the very purpose for which primaries were conceived. [Exactly. ed] "Fighting" Bob LaFollette, the Wisconsin progressive who organized the first primaries in 1903, hated boss-controlled conventions. The aim of the primaries is to remove the nominations from the hands of professionals and the wealthy donors whom professionals obey. The superdelegate issue should not be resolved through deals or negotiations. The integrity of elections is not negotiable. The superdelegate system deserves to be abolished. Oh yes, there is one small practical consideration, an afterthought perhaps. If the superdelegates, in their arrogance, defy the majority will of the voters, the stain on the Democratic Party nominee - Obama or Clinton - would nearly destroy the chances for victory in November. The Party would be divided. Idealistic voters would be disillusioned. And McCain, who happens to be associated with electoral reform (McCain backed Arizona's Clean Money system) could easily turn superdelegate meddling into a scandal. The Republican Party has no superdelegates. Respecting the will of the voters is a precondition to unity in the Democratic Party and victory in November. Paul Rockwell, formerly assistant professor of philosophy at Midwestern University, is a national columnist who lives in the Bay Area. --------15 of 17-------- The Democratic Party and the Business of Elections Following the Money Trail By ANTHONY DIMAGGIO CounterPunch February 18, 2008 One of the biggest mistakes a voter can make is to project their own values onto a political candidate. The glittering generalities of the candidates, unfortunately, make such projections extremely common. Voters hear candidates making vague claims in support of the middle class or workers, and assume that those candidates retain a strong commitment to redistributive justice. Barack Obama has perhaps been the most successful in using glittering generalities, with his continued commitment to the "audacity of hope" and "change we can believe in," as prime examples. Such slogans may make for nice sound bites, but are of little substantive value in identifying Obama's actual positions on key issues. Obama's attempts to appeal to working Americans offer more of the same ambiguity. In one speech from this February, he promised: "as our economy changes, let's be the generation that ensures our nation's workers are sharing in our prosperity. Let's protect the hard-earned benefits their companies have promised. Let's make it possible for hardworking Americans to save for retirement. And let's allow our unions and their organizers to lift up this country's middle-class again." Such claims, although often cited by conservative media pundits as "proof" of Democratic Party "socialism," provide little basis for assessing how the party will enact progressive change. While rhetorical support for American workers and unions is very common amongst Demorats, how does their rhetoric reflect the reality of campaign politics in America today? A review of the major economic forces behind American elections is sobering, if for no other reason than because of the dramatic difference between campaign rhetoric and reality. Scholars have long identified the increased role of money in the campaign process. The 2008 election has proven no different, as the combined funds raised by all of the candidates running in House, Senate, and Presidential races totals an astounding $1.1 billion, as of January 2008 - $347 million raised in the House, $154 million in the Senate, and $583 million for the Presidency. The Democratic, rather than the Republican Party, has proven the most savy in raising massive sums, as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama place first and second place in terms of the most money raised (at $116 million and $102 million respectively). Republicans' funds are less in comparison, with frontrunner John McCain raising a total of $41 million, and Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Huckabee respectively at $88.5 million, $60.9 million, and $9 million. Democrats often claim that they will fight for American workers, against the special interests of corporate American and white collar elites. Hillary Clinton has proclaimed herself a champion of blue collar interests, although her track record indicates otherwise. As a member of the Wal-Mart board of directors from 1986-1992, she presided over a company that is notorious for its anti-worker and anti-union initiatives. A recent report from ABC News highlights Clinton's continued refusal to speak up in favor of worker interests at Wal-Mart board meetings; one former company board members admits he has "no recollection of Clinton defending unions during more than 20 board meetings held in private." Democrats' claims that they are the party of the common worker would seem a lot more plausible if they were not so heavily reliant on corporate sponsorship. As of January, Clinton received 56% of her funds from business groups and individuals, as opposed to only 11% from labor, while only 25% of Obama's funds came from business, none came from labor. Obama's relations with labor interests rival those of Republicans, as McCain Romney, Giuliani, Huckabee all similarly accepted between 0-1% of their funds from union members and labor organizations. Out of the seven major candidates in the 2008 Presidential race (Clinton, Obama, Edwards, McCain, Huckabee, Romney, and Giuliani), only Edwards received more money from labor than business (accepting 4% and 52% of his funds from business and labor respectively). It hardly seems coincidental, considering his campaign funding sources, that Edwards was the most populist, critical candidate of corporate America. While Edwards was promoting a progressive policy platform, other leading Democrats were busy courting major American industries. Hillary Clinton is consistently a top recipient of money from a wide variety of industries, ranking number one amongst both Democrats and Republicans in funds received from computer and Internet companies, commercial banks, health professionals, health services and HMOs, hospitals and nursing homes, lawyers and law firms, hedge funds, miscellaneous health care interests, pharmaceutical and health product producers, real estate groups, securities and investment interests, and television, movie, and music companies. Barack Obama is consistently the second highest recipient of contributions from all these industries, with the exceptions of hedge funds, real estate, and telephone interests. On a bi-partisan level, business continues to dominate the campaign contribution process. In recent years, the split between business and labor donations has remained rather stable, although extremely lopsided. Business contributions have ranged between 72% and 75% of all contributions received by candidates during the 2000 through 2008 elections, while labor donations accounted for only between 3% and 7% of all donations. In an electoral system more and more reliant on mass amounts of funding, business interests are poised to strengthen their already privileged position. Successful political leaders have learned that they need to court business interests if they are to succeed in Congressional races with increasingly exorbitant entrance prices. While the typical winner in a Senate race raised an average of $5.2 million in 1998, that number had skyrocketed to $9.6 million in 2006 - an 85% increase. Similarly, the typical winner in a House race, while raising an average of $650,000 in 1998, needed to raise $1.2 million by 2006 (also an 85% increase). Scholarly studies of the media identify candidates' images, personalities, and horse-race politics, rather than exploration of substantive policy issues, as at the heart of the mediated electoral contest. The Wall Street Journal recently conceded this point in time for the "Super Tuesday" primaries, with its headline: "Issues Recede in 2008 Contest As Voters Focus on Character." In their book Covering Campaigns, Peter Clarke and Susan Evans highlight journalists' lack of interest in the major issues in their coverage of Congressional elections. Similarly, Political Scientist Thomas Patterson argues that election "coverage is framed within the context of a competitive game rather than being concerned with basic issues of policy." As election coverage degenerates into a popularity contest between different personalities, more important substantive questions about the role of money in national elections remain unexplored. Note: all of the statistics in this report are publicly available through the Center for Responsive Politics, at www.opensecrets.org Anthony DiMaggio has taught Middle East Politics and American Government at Illinois State University. His book, Mass Media, Mass Propaganda: Understanding the News in the "War on Terror," is due out in April. He can be reached at: adimag2 [at] uic.edu --------16 of 17-------- A Government Devoid of Truth and Decency What Do We Stand For? By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS CounterPunch February 18, 2008 Americans traditionally thought of their country as a "city upon a hill," a "light unto the world." Today only the deluded think that. Polls show that the rest of the world regards the US and Israel as the two greatest threats to peace. This is not surprising. In the words of Arthur Silber: "The Bush administration has announced to the world, and to all Americans, that this is what the United States now stands for: a vicious determination to dominate the world, criminal, genocidal wars of aggression, torture, and an increasingly brutal and brutalizing authoritarian state at home. That is what we stand for." [Silber's piece will appear here soon, probably next issue -ed] Addressing his fellow Americans, Silber asks the paramount question, "why do you support" these horrors? His question goes to the heart of the matter. Do we Americans have any honor, any humanity, any integrity, any awareness of the crimes our government is committing in our name? Do we have a moral conscience? How can a moral conscience be reconciled with our continuing to tolerate our government which has invaded two countries on the basis of lies and deception, destroyed their civilian infrastructures and murdered hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children? The killing and occupation continue even though we now know that the invasions were based on lies and fabricated "evidence." The entire world knows this. Yet, Americans continue to act as if the gratuitous invasions, the gratuitous killing, and the gratuitous destruction are justified. There is no end of it in sight. If Americans have any honor, how can they betray their Founding Fathers, who gave them liberty, by tolerating a government that claims immunity to law and the Constitution and is erecting a police state in their midst? Answers to these questions vary. Some reply that a fearful and deceived American public seeks safety from terrorists in government power. Others answer that a majority of Americans finally understand the evil that Bush has set loose and tried to stop him by voting out the Republicans in November 2006 and putting the Democrats in control of Congress - all to no effect - and are now demoralized as neither party gives a hoot for public opinion or has a moral conscience. The people ask over and over, "What can we do?" Very little when the institutions put in place to protect the people from tyranny fail. In the US, the institutions have failed across the board. The freedom and independence of the watchdog press was destroyed by the media concentration that was permitted by the Clinton administration and Congress. Americans who rely on traditional print and TV media simply have no idea what is afoot. Political competition failed when the opposition party became a "me-too" party. The Democrats even confirmed as attorney general Michael Mukasey, an authoritarian who refuses to condemn torture and whose rulings as a federal judge undermined habeas corpus. Such a person is now the highest law enforcement officer in the United States. The judicial system failed when federal judges ruled that "state secrets" and "national security" are more important than government accountability and the rule of law. The separation of powers failed when Congress acquiesced to the executive branch's claims of primary power and independence from statutory law and the Constitution. It failed again when the Democrats refused to impeach Bush and Cheney. Without the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, America can never recover. The precedents for unaccountable government established by the Bush administration are too great, their damage too lasting. Without impeachment, America will continue to sink into dictatorship in which criticism of the government and appeals to the Constitution are criminalized. We are closer to executive rule than many people know. Silber reminds us that America once had leaders, such as Speaker of the House Thomas B. Reed and Senator Robert M. LaFollette Sr., who valued the principles upon which America was based more than they valued their political careers. Perhaps Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are of this ilk, but America has fallen so low that people who stand on principle today are marginalized. They cannot become Speaker of the House or a leader in the Senate. Today Congress is almost as superfluous as the Roman Senate under the Caesars. On February 13 the US Senate barely passed a bill banning torture, and the White House promptly announced that President Bush would veto it. Torture is now the American way. The US Senate was only able to muster 51 votes against torture, an indication that almost a majority of US Senators support torture. Bush says that his administration does not torture. So why veto a bill prohibiting torture? Bush seems proud to present America to the world as a torturer. After years of lying to Americans and the rest of the world that Guantanamo prison contained 774 of "the world's most dangerous terrorists," the Bush regime is bringing 6 of its victims to trial. The vast majority of the 774 detainees have been quietly released. The US government stole years of life from hundreds of ordinary people who had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and were captured by warlords and sold to the stupid Americans as "terrorists." Needing terrorists to keep the farce going, the US government dropped leaflets in Afghanistan offering $25,000 a head for "terrorists." Kidnappings ensued until the US government had purchased enough "terrorists" to validate the "terrorist threat." The six that the US is bringing to "trial" include two child soldiers for the Taliban and a car pool driver who allegedly drove bin Laden. The Taliban did not attack the US. The child soldiers were fighting in an Afghan civil war. The US attacked the Taliban. How does that make Taliban soldiers terrorists who should be locked up and abused in Gitmo and brought before a kangeroo military tribunal? If a terrorist hires a driver or a taxi, does that make the driver a terrorist? What about the pilots of the airliners who brought the alleged 9/11 terrorists to the US? Are they guilty, too? The Gitmo trials are show trials. Their only purpose is to create the precedent that the executive branch can ignore the US court system and try people in the same manner that innocent people were tried in Stalinist Russia and Gestapo Germany. If the Bush regime had any real evidence against the Gitmo detainees, it would have no need for its kangeroo military tribunal. If any more proof is needed that Bush has no case against any of the Gitmo detainees, the following AP News report, February 14, 2008, should suffice: "The Bush administration asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to limit judges' authority to scrutinize evidence against detainees at Guantanamo Bay." The reason Bush doesn't want judges to see the evidence is that there is no evidence except a few confessions obtained by torture. In the American system of justice, confession obtained by torture is self-incrimination and is impermissible evidence under the US Constitution. Andy Worthington's book, The Guantanamo Files, and his online articles make it perfectly clear that the "dangerous terrorists" claim of the Bush administration is just another hoax perpetrated on the inattentive American public. Recently the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity issued a report that documents the fact that Bush administration officials made 935 false statements about Iraq to the American people in order to deceive them into going along with Bush's invasion. In recent testimony before Congress, Bush's Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor, Condi Rice, was asked by Rep. Robert Wexler about the 56 false statements she made. Rice replied: "I take my integrity very seriously and I did not at any time make a statement that I knew to be false." Rice blamed "the intelligence assessments" which "were wrong." Another Rice lie, like those mushroom clouds that were going to go up over American cities if we didn't invade Iraq. The weapon inspectors told the Bush administration that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as Scott Ritter has reminded us over and over. Every knowledgeable person in the country knew there were no weapons. As the leaked Downing Street memo confirms, the head of British intelligence told the UK cabinet that the Bush administration had already decided to invade Iraq and was making up the intelligence to justify the invasion. But let's assume that Rice was fooled by faulty intelligence. If she had any integrity she would have resigned. In the days when American government officials had integrity, they would have resigned in shame from such a disastrous war and terrible destruction based on their mistake. But Condi Rice, like all the Bush (and Clinton) operatives, is too full of American self-righteousness and ambition to have any remorse about her mistake. Condi can still look herself in the mirror despite one million Iraqis dying from her mistake and several million more being homeless refugees, just as Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, can still look herself in the mirror despite sharing responsibility for 500,000 dead Iraqi children. There is no one in the Bush administration with enough integrity to resign. It is a government devoid of truth, morality, decency and honor. The Bush administration is a blight upon America and upon the world. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan's first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by French President Francois Mitterrand. He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts [at] yahoo.com --------17 of 17-------- -------------------------- be all that you can be. 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