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Why I don’t think the Greens can do it for the Progressive Movement.

I’ve been trying, in my humble way, to help jump-start a renewed Progressive Party presence.  But a question that is often asked of me is why not just join the Green Party.  I could go into a long and detailed explanation, but the short of it is that I don’t think they’re very organized and some of their campaigning methods rub me the wrong way.  (For the record, the reason I don’t say much about the Libertarian and Socialist Parties is because I don’t know enough about their organizational structure or their methods of campaigning to make an informed assessment.)

First, my distaste for the Green Party’s methods in campaigning.  As reported by CBS News, they accepted money and assistance in 2006 from then-senator Rick Santorum of the Republican Party in order to get on the ballot.  The state’s high court threw candidate Carl Romanelli off the ballot citing insufficient signatures, but the story exposed an even deeper rot within the Greens’ political machine in Pennsylvania: the willingness to be compromised just to try to stick it to the Democrats, whom Greens consider little or no better than the GOP.

There is, of course, a valid argument to be made in claiming there is difference between the two major political parties.  One need only look at the voting records of the two Prima Donna Democrats competing for their party’s nomination to run for president, and the complicit cowardice by most Congressional members in either chamber, to see the truth in this point of view.  But for the Greens to accept help from a GOPer so vile as to have had post-anal sex discharge named after him reveals both a lack of integrity and a sickening display of hypocrisy.  Such actions add otherwise undeserved legitimacy to charges by Democrats that greens are somehow bent on “stealing” votes they feel belong to their party.

Then there is the organization of their campaigns for national office.  Or, rather, the lack of organization.  As I have pointed out in my recent three-part series on Progressives, Liberals, Movements and Political Parties, trying to run presidential candidates before having secured enough state-level offices (especially state secretary, judicial, and legislative positions) waste resources that are better spent building up presences in the various states so as to achieve the ability to gain traction at the national level.  What good does it do to run candidates for president when the Green Party hasn’t even made headway winning state legislative and executive offices first?

That’s why I think it’s better to rally the Progressive Movement through its own namesake political party.  I’m not saying we can’t or shouldn’t work with Greens; since their platform so closely matches that of the overall Progressive Movement, they make natural political allies and might even be tempted to switch over.  But I think as long as some elements in the party are willing to help Republicans, and as long as the party leadership insists on trying to build the party in a more top-down manner, their effectiveness as a political party is severely limited.

The Politics of the Rev. Wright Controversy: A Debate with Melissa Harris-Lacewell and Adolph Reed,

The following debate between Adolph Reed, Jr. and Melissa Harris-Lacewell on Democracy Now! is linked to here.  For those of you with about 120 megabytes of room on your hard drives, and have the mpeg 4 codec, you can download it here.  Reed thinks Barack Obama is incapable of getting elected to the presidency, on the grounds that he is a phony who won’t be able to withstand the inevitable Republican Noise Machine (though he thinks Hillary Clinton won’t be able to, either, for the same reason).  Harris-Lacewell takes the opposing point of view.

The debate begins exactly twenty-one minutes into the program, so if you’re impatient to get to the discussion that’s the point at which you’ll want to start.  I think this is a fascinating debate, and I wish we could see its like on the mainstream news channels such as MSNBC and CNN.  I posted the transcript of the debate at my forum, if you’d like to read it.

Giving credit where it’s due.

I take Obama to task on a lot of issues, but it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t acknowledge that he does take some good positions in this campaign.  An example is illustrated in yesterday’s column by the New York Times’ Paul Krugman, which states:

The impression that Mr. McCain’s tax talk is all about pandering is reinforced by his proposal for a summer gas tax holiday – a measure that would, in fact, do little to help consumers, although it would boost oil industry profits.

Obama opposes this silly and, ultimately, fairly useless measure.  Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, agrees with McCain.

Why Jeremiah Wright is justified in taking Barack Obama to task.

Last night MSNBC (including Keith Olbermann) was all over Jeremiah Wright for going on a book tour and – gasp! – daring to criticize Barack Obama.  Reading today’s hate-fueled rant on the web site, you’d think he had done something wrong.  Why?  Why shouldn’t the man who was publicly tossed overboard by his former parishioner return the favor?

Reading Kevin Alexander Gray’s assessment of the speech in which the Democratic candidate for president distanced himself from the man who presided over his marriage and baptized his children, I couldn’t help but conclude that Wright had been thrown under the proverbial speeding bus by Obama – who apparently decided long ago to adopt Bill Cosby’s out-of-touch, blame-the-victim rhetoric (an observation echoed by Adolph Reed, Jr., in the May issue of The Progressive).

“His political repertoire,” writes Reed, “has always included the repugnant stratagem of using connection with Black audiences in exactly the same way Bill Clinton did – i.e., getting props for both emoting with the Black crowd and talking through them to affirm a victim-blaming, ‘tough love’ message that focuses on alleged behavioral pathologies in poor Black communities.”  Reed blasts Obama for going “beyond Clinton and rehears[ing] the scurrilous and ridiculous sort of narrative Bill Cosby has made famous.”

Gray pointed out in his April 2, 2008 Progressive online column:

Until the controversy broke about his ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama himself frequently played the race card – on black people.

Shortly before the Texas and Ohio primaries, Obama was speaking to a mostly black audience and said, “I know some of ya’ll, you got that cold Popeye’s out for breakfast. I know. That’s why ya’ll laughing. … You can’t do that. Children have to have proper nutrition.”

In South Carolina, he told the state Legislative Black Caucus that a good economic development plan in the black community would be “cleaning up the garbage.”

Now, if white politicians had said these things they would have been pummeled.

And even in his much-heralded speech, Obama went out of his way to criticize welfare, decry “the erosion of black families” and stress the need for black fathers to spend more time with their kids.

This Bill Cosby routine goes down well with white voters, but it further stigmatizes blacks.

Obama managed to weasel his way out of trouble a month ago by dissing his former pastor as a bitter relic of a bygone era.  So who can blame Jeremiah Wright when he goes on the talk circuit to defend himself and retaliate against his betrayer?  For truly, did Obama not merely use his former pastor’s church as a means of establishing ties to a community whose political backing he wanted to strengthen his career (writers at Black Agenda Report and The New Republic certainly seem to think so)?

The point here is not to criticize Barack Obama so much as it is to defend Jeremiah Wright as he gives back what he received.  The danger of dismissing him as an angry, bitter old man whose message is equally ignorable lies in continuing the cycle of racism in this country, and the suppression of very real issues pertaining to U.S. foreign and domestic policy.

The fact is that not only was Wright betrayed, so too was the whole of the Black community, and the legitimate criticisms of imperialist policy that have wrought suffering and devastation upon others.  We may disagree with the reverend’s delivery, but we cannot deny that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were a direct consequence of our country’s meddling in Middle Eastern affairs that resulted in mass death and political oppression in the region.  Nor can we deny that our nation was built on the backs of African slaves, and the genocide of the aboriginal peoples of this continent.  The indignation over Jeremiah Wright’s fiery rhetoric clouds the truths contained in his diatribes.

So let’s cut the man some slack.  He may not be the sort of person we’d prefer to point out these truths, his method of delivery far too blunt for our comfort.  But sometimes we need that in order to face up to unpleasant facts about ourselves and our nation’s history.  We should consider that Mr. Wright may be justified in going public with his side of the story, with his criticisms.

If that happens to hurt Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, whose fault is that?

The face and voice of evil.

Thanks to Linda Milazzo at Smirking Chimp for posting these.

That is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, effectively admitting on Larry King’s program that she is chummy with a mass murderer and dictator.  That is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, dissing the mother of a soldier killed in her friend’s war of choice, because she has “a day job.”

And what job is that, exactly?  Aiding and abetting tyrants — war criminals — as they continue to torture, wage illegal war, spy on us, and collapse our economy.  And that’s not even half of the list of crimes committed by the shrub-gargoyle regime.…

Shirley Golub is a Democrat challenging Pelosi for the California-8th District primary in June.  She has the guts to say what no other member of the Democratic Party will: that the Speaker of the House is a craven coward.  I think Pelosi is beyond cowardice; she is complicit — an embodiment of evil, the very kind now doing so much damage to our country and our world.

Cindy Sheehan was the face of the anti-war movement in America as it helped propel the Democratic Party back into political power for the first time in over a decade.  And when she reaized that the Democrats had simply used us to obtain power, that they had no intention of changing the status quo, she was compelled to act in the only way she could: campaign to unseat Pelosi.

I am urging each and every member of this web site to donate to these two Ladies, to make every effort to help them defeat Pelosi and send her sniveling back to the dog house she shares with Barney the Scottish Terrier.  No one who professes friendship with the dictator who has wrought so much pain and suffering should be allowed to hold power.  No one who so callously and arrogantly dismisses the mother of a slain soldier should be allowed to walk the halls of Congress.  No one who so criminally undermines the duties placed upon her by the Constitution of the United States should be allowed to show her face in D.C.

Ms. Golub and Ms. Sheehan are the best chance we have of removing the biggest obstacle to impeachment, and the most prominent enabler of the occupation and the regime that is dismantling our democracy.  Let’s help them topple Pelosi.

Progressives and Liberals, Movements and Political Parties – Part 3

Cross-posted from my blog at Campaign for America’s Future.

Today I wrap up my series on Progressives and Liberals, Movements and Political Parties.  In the first entry of the series, I explained what I think distinguishes progressives from modern American liberals, and the distinction to be made between a movement and the political party (or parties) through which it acts.  In the second, I went into some detail on short and long term strategies, how we can use strategic campaigning to influence more Democratic candidates to run leftward, progressive campaigns.

Before I begin in earnest, I must point out that when I write about bringing the Progressive Party to all fifty states I mean we establish presences at the local level.  The reason for this is one of practicality: you cannot hope to achieve tangible, lasting results by trying to build from the top down; the only way to build any structure is from the bottom up.  An example of why this is important is the Green Party-members have tried to go national before they had solid state-level presences and infrastructures throughout the country, and a very damaging consequences has been that it has incurred the wrath of Democrats for the 2000 electoral disaster (unfairly, to be sure, but nevertheless Greens are held responsible).  Trying to win a national-level campaign without first building the local and state infrastructures required is political suicide, not to mention foolish.

So the first step is to begin at the local level.  Seek out and establish contact with like-minded progressives, and start holding meetings.  First figure out if this is something you really want to devote your time and energy to, because if no chapter exists in your state you’ll be starting from scratch, and there is a certain level of commitment necessary to build a political party from the ground up.  Once you’ve decided that you all are set on doing this, it’s time to establish a platform on which to run (for an example, see the aforementioned first entry in this series).

After that phase has been completed, you’ll need to both create a working set of party bylaws for your state or municipality and expand your network to other, like-minded progressives.  As you grow in number, those bylaws are going to come in handy since no political party can function without the organizational structure.  You’ll also want to make clear what your short and long term objectives are.  As I wrote in the second entry of this series, you’ll want to focus on finding and running candidates in areas where Democrats don’t run, or where the Democrat is a corporate-conservative.  Your best bet, of course, is to pick the former over the latter unless circumstances dictate otherwise.  Why?  Because the overall goal for the time being is to decrease the numbers of the GOP in political office, and influence the Democrats to shift leftward.  Use your own judgment, however, as to how best to achieve this goal.

Finally, you need to find candidates.  Running for political office is not for everyone.  I don’t write this to knock anyone, but again, there is a certain level of commitment required and many people simply do not have the time, energy, or passion for politics.  So finding someone who lives and breathes politics is vital.  Once you find someone willing to take on this monumental task of running a political campaign, you need to raise money.  Election laws are set up to eliminate people who can’t raise a set amount of funds.  Speaking for myself, I think that blows, but there is a certain pragmatism to it; if you can’t convince a hundred people to donate fifty dollars, how do you expect to convince a thousand, or ten thousand?

That’s about all I can tell you here.  The rest is up to you.  If you would like more information, you could do a lot worse than to get in touch with the Vermont and Washington Progressives.

Why Clinton is going to become 2008’s Ralph Nader

Everyone’s talking about Hillary Clinton’s win in Pennsylvania yesterday over rival Barack Obama.  Ten whole percentage points: may I make whoopee in my pants, now?  It’s still not enough to help the senator supposedly representing New York catch up to the one supposedly representing Illinois in terms of pledged delegates.

Clinton’s broke, trailing her Democratic rival by a small but undeniable margin, and now reduced to threatening to nuke Iran in the event it uses its non-existent nuclear weapons to attack Israel (let me reiterate: Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, a finding held by all sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies–so the fact that Clinton and Obama keep acting as though the opposite is true means neither of them has a fucking clue on anything, and why we’re supposed to trust their judgment when they can’t even call bullshit on the lies being shat out by the Bush-Cheney regime is beyond my comprehension).  Meanwhile, John McCain gets to have the media give him another round of reportorial oral sex for his “decency” in choosing not to run a dirty ad against Obama.

As recently as last month Zogby and other polls were showing the senator pretending to represent Arizona narrowly ahead of either of his Democratic rivals for the dictatorship.  The Republican is using the time between now and the general election to win back his party’s crazed right-wing base, raise money, and plot out his general election strategy.  Do I even need to continue explaining what this all means?

Hillary Clinton wants the presidency so bad she is willing to tear the Democratic Party asunder in order to get it, leaving it too battered and weak to win in November.  She absolutely cannot let it go, cannot allow an upstart like Barack Obama to “steal” what she thinks is hers by inheritance.  And it sure as hell doesn’t help that Obama is too big a pandering, hard-headed phony to be able to seal the deal and win a clear mandate from Democratic voters by embracing the Edwards-Kucinich bloc.  No, he’d rather use them and dump them to the curb, and his piss-poor performance at the last debate proved he, too, is running out of steam.  Like Clinton, he never expected to have to compete this long for the Democratic nomination, and he is becoming dangerously low on ideas.

So no matter how the remaining primaries play out, this fight is going all the way to the convention in August.  All because Hillary Clinton won’t let go of the illusion that the presidency is somehow hers.  If 2008 accomplishes anything, it may be to finally rid Ralph Nader of the blame (wholly undeserved) for destroying any chance Democrats might have had of winning back the White House this century.

Somebody pass me a brick, so I can throw it at my television set the next time I have news coverage of the campaign on.  Oh, wait, I have my steel mace for that.  Never mind.  At any rate, I’d be really grateful for some ideas for how we might avoid this fiasco–because if we can’t, the massive ego of Hillary Clinton is going to rain shit down on all of America.

Progressives, Liberals, Movements, and Political Parties – Part 2

Cross-posted from my blog at Campaign for America’s Future.

In my previous entry I laid out the differences between liberals and progressives, movements and political parties.  For those of you who haven’t time to read through it, a brief recap:  Liberals believe in socio-economic justice, whereas progressives believe the same thing but also in taking it to the next step-using government as a powerful tool with which to achieve it by making Big Business behave.  The Progressive Movement, much like movement conservatism, has a definite set of goals, and the Progressive Party is the political force through which we can reach them.

Progressives, Liberals, Movements, and Political Parties

Cross-posted from my blog at Campaign for America’s Future.

Lately I’ve been getting an increasing recurrence of the same questions: what is the difference between liberals and progressives, and what is the difference between the Progressive Movement and the Progressive Party?  The answers to these questions are important, for as we inch ever closer to the general election in November and as primary battles across the country reach their conclusion the future of our country and our world shall be determined by them-and by how swiftly we figure them out.

The first question I shall tackle is, what is the difference between a liberal and a progressive?  For that I’ll quote the Huffington Post’s David Sirota, who explains it far more eloquently than I can:

I often get asked what the difference between a “liberal” and a “progressive” is. The questions from the media on this subject are always something like, “Isn’t ‘progressive’ just another name for ‘liberal’ that people want to use because ‘liberal’ has become a bad word?”

The answer, in my opinion, is no-there is a fundamental difference when it comes to core economic issues. It seems to me that traditional “liberals” in our current parlance are those who focus on using taxpayer money to help better society. A “progressive” are those who focus on using government power to make large institutions play by a set of rules.

To put it in more concrete terms: a liberal solution to some of our current problems with high energy costs would be to increase funding for programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). A more “progressive” solution would be to increase LIHEAP but also crack down on price gouging and pass laws better regulating the oil industry’s profiteering and market manipulation tactics. A liberal policy towards prescription drugs is one that would throw a lot of taxpayer cash at the pharmaceutical industry to get them to provide medicine to the poor; a progressive prescription drug policy would be one that centered around price regulations and bulk purchasing in order to force down the actual cost of medicine in America (much of which was originally developed with taxpayer R&D money).

Let’s be clear: most progressives are also liberals, and liberal goals in better funding America’s social safety net are noble and critical. It’s the other direction that’s the problem. Many of today’s liberals are not fully comfortable with progressivism as defined in these terms. Many of today’s Democratic politicians, for instance, are simply not comfortable taking a more confrontational posture towards large economic institutions (many of whom fund their campaigns)-institutions that regularly take a confrontational posture towards America’s middle-class.

Help Shirley Golub unseat Nancy Pelosi!

Shirley Golub is running against Nancy Pelosi in the California-8th June primary.  She has produced a radio ad calling the Speaker of the House of Representatives what she is: a coward.

Let’s help her get this ad on the air.  Go to the following web site:…

And donate what you can.  Pelosi has been a disaster as Speaker.  She has been among the biggest obstacles to impeachment, has allowed funding for the occupation of Iraq to continue unfettered, and failed to enforce Congressional subpoena power.  The coward needs to go, lest her cowardice and complicity in the crimes of the Bush regime further drag down the Democratic Party.

And while we’re at it, let’s help Cindy Sheehan as she seeks to unseat Pelosi.

The only way we can get Democrats (and every other representative) in Congress to listen, to do as they’re told, is to put the fear of something greater than the shrub and his gargoyle into them: electoral defeat.  This is a proven tactic; Iowa’s Leonard Boswell, one of the most shameless Bush dogs in the House, signed onto Robert Wexler’s impeachment efforts after fellow bootlicker Al Wynn lost his primary race in Maryland to challenger Donna Edwards.

So let’s give Shirley Golub a hand up, and send a message to Nancy Pelosi that cowardice and complicity shall be punished at the ballot box.

Focusing the Outrage

If you’ve read my posts you know I’m no fan of Barack Obama, and that I have a distinct tendency to display copious amounts of Righteous Indignation.  There’s a reason for that, but there is always a danger in creating outrage fatigue, so today I’m going to try to help put it all into perspective.

It’s called Karma.

Reading this MyDD analysis of Obama’s rhetorical flub about rural Pennsylvania voters, which would be 100% excellent if not for the writer’s insane devotion to ignoring the apostrophe whenever trying to condense ‘it is’ — which is a shame because otherwise the piece seems well written (for that it’s earned a mere 99% for its grammatical apathy), I couldn’t help but feel that the senator supposedly representing Illinois is facing a bit of Karmic justice.

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