During a recent appearance on Pacifica radio’s Democracy Now!, former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold openly criticized President Barack Obama’s decision to accept campaign contributions from Super PACs. Feingold succinctly characterized the president’s reversal on taking Super PAC money: “It’s not just bad policy. It’s also dumb strategy."
Feingold’s point is well taken. Obama’s acceptance of Super PAC contributions flies in the face of his stated opposition to the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision – a ruling that opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate campaign contributions. This reversal may come back to haunt the president, especially as he and the Democrats attempt to capitalize on the popular discontent articulated by the Occupy movement.
Rocky Anderson is always deferential to Occupy Wall Street when asked about the movement, most recently in a Jan. 31 interview with the online environmental magazine Grist. Occupy has been a "very healthy thing in this country," and there’s an "enormous convergence" between its concerns and his. But for inspiration, the Justice Party candidate points to Tahrir Square, not Zucotti Park.
"One of the great inspirations for us was what we saw in much of the Arab world, where people were intent on overthrowing their nations’ dictators," he told Grist's special projects editor Greg Hanscom during a wide-ranging Q&A. "… They put their lives on the line, utilizing democratized means of communication through social networking and engaging in classic grassroots organizing — and they succeeded."
Watching Newsweek's Eleanor Clift confront the question "Are most political reporters simply insiders?" is a discomfiting experience. Her struggle to defend the indefensible unavoidably inspires compassion for her uneasy predicament. But the case she makes so proves the point that any sympathy engendered morphs quickly into cynicism.
The political reporter appeared on a Dec. 29, 2011, panel discussion on Al Jazeera, subtitled the question du jour. Joining her were Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, of whose candidacy Clift knew nothing. Al Jazeera devoted a third of the half-hour program's opinions to the former Salt Lake City mayor. Clift apparently had never heard of him.
"I think Rocky Anderson is running probably to get his issues out there, more than from an expectation that he might necessarily win," she awkwardly speculated aloud, unsure about the Justice Party's name, no less.
Cindy Sheehan doesn’t sit down and relax very often. The internationally known peace and human rights activist just returned home to California from a two-week trip to Japan and soon afterwards embarked on a bus tour of the Northwest.
“Today,” she wrote in her blog for Aug. 21, “the Re-Creating Revolutionary Communities or Bust Tour kicked off our nine-city tour in Oregon and California with some exciting visits in Eugene, Ore.”
The day following the fall of Tripoli to CIA/NATO backed rebels, Cynthia McKinney spoke at Cleveland State University in downtown Cleveland about her fact-finding mission to Libya. The Aug. 22 event, which had been arranged weeks in advance of the dramatic events transpiring in Libya, was part of a 21-city tour by the six-term congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate.
Flanked by an honor guard of the New Black Panther Party dressed in black uniforms and black berets, McKinney opened her remarks by drawing parallels between the way the mainstream media has repeatedly lied to the public about Libya and quotes from Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebels – “If you repeat a lie a thousand times, people will come to believe it." – and Muammar Qaddafi – “If you tell one truth, you will smash a thousand lies.”
In 1953, at the beginning of his presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a speech in which he said, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."
That quotation is apt today. According to the War Resisters League, the United States spends 59 percent of its budget on the military. When spending on veterans’ affairs and nuclear weapons programs are added, Businessinsider.com says, the grand total is $1.01–1.35 trillion spent on national defense in 2010.
Scandal, gridlock, high crimes and misdemeanors. In this season of journalistic outrage, political stalemate and record-shattering heat waves, it’s tough to keep your cool. Tougher still if you are in the hot seat – unless of course you’re fortunate enough to occupy a position of power and authority. In which case, you might just as well settle in for a bit of kabuki theater and go about your business.
Seems the more precarious vital social, political and economic institutions become, the less accountable they are to the general public. Or maybe it’s the other way around. In any event, if you’re scoring at home, here’s the latest accountability index.
Change is in the air. Some of this is welcome change: the grassroots democracy movement across the Middle East and North Africa comes to mind. As does the worker uprising in Madison, Wis., and cities and towns across these United States.
More often than not, however, this change has been catastrophic. Weather-related disasters of historic proportions are wreaking havoc on the people and the land across the American South. Overseas, the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant continues to threaten public health and safety in northeast Japan and beyond.
This year’s Midwest Peace and Justice Summit, the seventh annual, bristled with ideas for social justice activists. It took place March 26 on the IUPUI campus in Indianapolis and was sponsored by the IUPUI chapter of Students for a Democratic Society.
The all-day, free summit began with a plenary session on grassroots organizing: from the Middle East to the Midwest, by two state activists, Omar Atia, president of Bridge, and Allison Luthe, community activist with Central Indiana Jobs with Justice, with Carl Davidson, a long-time activist and writer from western Pennsylvania, moderating.
The U.S. military, especially the CIA, is relying increasingly on unmanned aerial vehicles, or “drones,” to conduct both surveillance and bombing in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. Indiana is home to multiple sites of manufacturing, testing and support of drones and drone technology. Purdue University is involved, as are several Indiana companies.
In Bloomington at 7 p.m. on March 2, Quigley will outline those Indiana connections and the legal and moral concerns over aerial robotic attacks. He will also discuss the growing resistance to drone warfare. The talk will take place in room 1B of the public library, and its title is, “Indiana Drones: Robotic Warfare in the Heartland.”