Ralph Nader did not call Barack Obama an “Uncle Tom.” He said that Obama has a choice of whether or not he wants to be one for the corporations who really control Washington.
The difference is subtle, but it is everything.
The underlying point Nader was trying to make has nothing to do with race. It has to do with whether or not the man who was just elected to be our president will actually have the cojones to stand up to corporate power on behalf of the people who gave him his new job.
Also: All those who think Ralph Nader is just some cranky old egomaniac who does nothing but run for president and write books really need to get a better grip on history.
He has done far more for the people of this country in his public life than most of the people of this country realize.
from Flashpoints on KPFA http://www.flashpoints..net
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Information Clearing House
By Guns & Butter
Oct 15, 2008
Dr. Hudson is President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends (ISLET), a Wall Street Financial Analyst, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City and author of Super-Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1972 and 2003) and of The Myth of Aid (1971).
Voting out congressional incumbents failed this year, showing the anti-incumbency movement to be a clear letdown. For some years many groups and their websites have been advocating voting out congressional incumbents as an effective means to reform government and make it work better. Two of the better ones are Vote Out Incumbents Democracy and Tenure Corrupts.
Congress’ average seat retention rate since 1855 is 95.4 percent. There was a 3.6 percent decrease in seat retention in Congress from 99.2 percent in 2004 to 95.6 percent in 2006. But this modest improvement was aimed mostly at Republican incumbents, when what is really needed is a bipartisan approach.
Considering the totally awful public approval of Congress you would think that 2008 would be an historic year for voting out congressional incumbents, especially because it is so easy to blame both Democrats and Republicans for the nation’s woes. Moreover, public interest in politics and this year’s general election were higher than in a long time. And the Internet is awash with passionate statements against incumbents of both parties. So, how have Americans just behaved? How did congressional incumbents do this year?
This year the retention rate was typical at 95.6 percent overall (and unlikely to change significantly when some unsettled races get resolved). Likewise, though most incumbent Republicans were reelected, out of just 20 incumbent seats lost, only one was for a Democrat. Need proof of just how little political competition there is? Consider uncontested House seats that incumbents did not even have to defend, including 32 Democrats and 12 Republicans that did not face a two-party challenger.
As usual, no third-party congressional candidate was elected, with just a few able to hit around 20 percent, mostly when there was only a Democrat to run against, while in the vast majority of cases they stayed in low single digits. In the presidential vote category it looks like just 1.6 million people voted for third-party candidates, compared to 1.2 million in 2004 – not much of an improvement.
In other words, we have once again witnessed the pendulum-effect, where voters may feel strong anti-incumbency sentiments but in only a few cases express them as voting in candidates of the “other” party. So power shifts, but the corrupt status quo two-party system remains.
While I have agreed with the motivations of those leading the anti-incumbency movement I have concluded that there is something so rotten about our political system that there will never be a sufficiently large anti-incumbency vote to have any real impact. This year proves my point.
In the larger picture, the anti-incumbency movement merely serves as a distraction from more sensible approaches for reforming and revitalizing American democracy. It is just another of a seemingly endless array of ineffective and marginalized political reform movements. Until American patriots and dissidents unite behind something a lot more powerful the two-party plutocracy will remain in power.
The core problem is that the public has been thoroughly brainwashed to believe in the two-party system. One major consequence is that they refuse to vote for third-party candidates, so that even when they see what is tragic about our politicians they think the solution as voting for a challenger from the “other” major party. This happens despite the high fraction of voters registered as independents.
The anti-incumbency movement could only be successful if it was truly bipartisan so that voters rejected not only ALL incumbent Democrats and Republicans, but also refused to elect new members to Congress from BOTH major parties. Merely shifting control of Congress from one of the major parties to the other has never worked effectively. Why? Simple, both major parties have been corrupted by the same corporate and other special interests that pervert public policies to serve them rather than the general public.
The problem is that we still do not effective political competition in a nation that prides itself about competition. The two-party duopoly and plutocracy has worked hard to block true political competition. When it comes to congressional elections, gerrymandering has been used as a potent weapon. Gerrymandering of districts by both major parties when they have the power to accomplish it has not only protected incumbents, it has also made it nearly impossible for third party congressional candidates that are on a huge number of ballots to be successful.
Nelson Lee Walker of Tenure Corrupts recently made these sage observations: “I’m coming around to the idea that the bulk of the American people are basically stupid, stupid, stupid! Why? How else can we explain how Congress, which has a 9% approval rating, gets reelected about 95% of the time? Do we ever “throw the bums out”? Listen to these stats: Senate: As of 2008, of 100 Senators, 39 (39%) reelected for 18 yrs or more, 4 over 40 years! House: As of 2008, of 435 members, 143 (33%) reelected for 14 yrs or more, 5 over 36 years! And the longer these guys are in office, the more of them will run unopposed in future elections, since nobody will bother to challenge them. Unopposed races have doubled in the last 20 years, from 40 to 80 seats. And who is responsible for this sad state of affairs? YOU!!! Not your dumb neighbor. Not the media. Not the crooked political system. Just YOU, the typical stupid American! The guy who complains how those crooked politicians are ripping off the country and sending us all down the tubes, and then reelects them!”
In this of all years these critical views are hard to dispute. After all, could it be any clearer that the anti-incumbency movement is a failure? I urge those who have put so much time and energy into the anti-incumbency movement to call it quits and devote themselves to strategies that may be more effective. One option is to work hard to form a new national third party. Another is to support the relatively new nonpartisan attempt by Friends of the Article V Convention at www.foavc.org to compel Congress to give Americans what they have a constitutional right to have and what has been requested by the required number of states, and what the Founders believed we would need when the public lost trust and confidence in the federal government: an Article V convention that could consider proposals for constitutional amendments, a number of which could truly reform the structure of our dysfunctional political system.
For too long Congress has refused to obey the Constitution and we “dumb” Americans have let them get away with it, in large part because both Democrats and Republicans have feared (and instilled fear about) such a convention. The same people that keep getting elected to Congress! How’s that for symmetrical infamy?
[Joel S. Hirschhorn is a co-founder of Friends of the Article V Convention. Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through www.delusionaldemocracy.com.]
glassbeadian November 04, 2008
10/29/08: Naomi Wolf interviews Sgt. Matthis Chiroux
Naomi Wolf discusses with Veteran Sergeant Matthis Chiroux the events that took place on October 15th, 2008 at the final Presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
Debate footage provided by:
Glass Bead Collective
This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.
Mosaic needs your help! Donate here: http://linktv.org/contribute
“Hamas Threatens Retaliation,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Israel Kills 7 Palestinians in Gaza,” Syria TV, Syria
“Obama Will Not Change Policy Towards Middle East,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Rahm Emanuel Accepts Chief of Staff Post,” IBA TV, Israel
“US, Iraq edge closer to military pact deal,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Iraqi Government Compensates Displaced Christians,” Al-Iraqiya TV, Iraq
“Sudanese Papers Strike Against Censorship,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“CIA, Pakistan set to bury the hatchet,” Press TV, Iran
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.
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What Do The People Who Want Change Do Now That Barack Obama Has Been Elected President?
The world is rejoicing with the USA. They are thrilled at the end of the Bush Regime, and are uplifted that the United States seems to finally thrown off it’s racist past.
Everyone wishes Mister Obama well. This young erudite, educated man of color has spoken of change. The United States of America and the world is ready and anxious for change.
Fewer men if anyone has come to the presidency with less experience than President elect Obama. It can also be said that few men have come to this office and confronted more problems and extreme crises that will not only impact the USA for years to come, and will have huge influence on which way the entire world moves. Everyone is hoping that President Obama is up to the challenges he faces.
Progressives who have supported Obama are now looking at the reality of the appoints that he is considering for key cabinet positions and coming to the realization that change, if any, is going to be minimal.
The stark facts of politics as usual are starting to stare everyone interested in changing the direction the country seems to be head towards. The Constitutionalists, the Libertarians, the Progressives, they all have their visions as to what they believe is right for the country. They share more points of agreement than have divergent ideas. They all wonder how this country has set on a course so far removed from what it was founded under.
How can they change things?
According to the book, Declaring Independence, 60 to 80% of the population is dissatisfied with the direction the country seems to be headed, and they think the two party system is not working.
It is obvious that the country needs a viable third or fourth political party. That the third parties that exist are splintered, and detract from one another more than they take away from the entrenched and thoroughly corrupt two-party system, blatantly obvious.
How did this conservative narrow-minded blindered view that has taken over US politics come into being?
It all started on the local level, and if change, change for the better is going to happen in this country, it has to start locally! It’s not going to happen with some smooth talking career politicians who talks of change, but does nothing to support his words by voting as he speaks.
It is two years until the next local election. It is two years until all the members of the House of Representative and a third of the US Senate are up for re-election.
Now is the time to get involved in those elections–not in two years time. Now is when everyone has politics on their mind, and now is when the organizations are active and their infrastructure is at its best.
Everyone who wants honest real change has to get involved now to start it happening at the local level, electing more Bernie Sanders to the US Senate, more Ron Pauls, more Dennis Kuciniches to the US House of Representatives, and more mayors and members of state legislatures that actually support the views of their constituents.
The election is not really over. It is just starting. The real election for change is starting now.
Well, miracles of miracles Obama has made it through thus far. And given just how reviled the Cheney/Bush pirates are by more than half the population, the deep sense of relief is palpable and not just in the US,
“Hello history (to use the word of the times). What a staggering and indescribable moment this is. Barack Obama’s graceful acceptance of what had seemed both inevitable and impossible is up there equalling any political event since the downing of the Berlin Wall and the release of Nelson Mandela.” — Channel 4 News Email, 5 November, 2008
And such adulation is not confined to the corporate media:
“The changes will spread through American life in ways we cannot yet fully imagine. Let us congratulate ourselves on being alive at such a promising moment.” — William Greider, the Nation, ‘President Obama: This Proud Moment’
“From this day forward, politics, politicians and the people they serve will never be the same.” — Ron Fournier, Yahoo News, ‘Obama’s transcendence is beyond race’
But before we get completely carried away with the euphoria of the moment let us not forget what we’re talking about here, hence the comparisons with Mandela frankly makes my blood boil, especially as in the fourteen years since the democratic election in South Africa took place (something I participated in directly working for the ANC), Black South Africans are actually materially worse off now than they were under Apartheid, thus the vote per se is no measure of real democracy nor of real change. Under the ANC’s neo-liberal programme aka ‘New Labour’ over one million people have been made unemployed and the promises of the ‘revolution’ have not materialized for the Black masses.
Understandably of course, the corporate/state media have picked up on the comparisons with Mandela, and herein lies the danger of getting carried away by the moment. But does a leopard change its spots?
I have been reading some very stimulating essays on Black Agenda Report as well as the responses to them, I recommend them to you as between them (and others) they deal with the complex and not the least emotional state that many Americans (both black and white) are in as a result of Obama’s success.
Thus enjoy it while you can as very soon (if not already) the reality of Obama as president of a totally unreconstructed USA will become apparent. And the signs are all there, as his appointment of Rahm Israel Emanuel as his White House chief of staff (see ‘Obama picks pro-Israel hardliner’ for top post as White House chief of staff indicates. This is the man who is effectively Obama’s ‘gatekeeper’, and along with David Axelrod, they will control what Obama gets to read and who he gets to talk to.
As I have mentioned before, picking Obama was a stroke of genius on the part of the ruling elite, though obviously it was not without its detractors nor its dangers given the role of racism in shaping people’s perceptions. But with the assistance of the corporate media (and helped by the Republicans when they chose Palin) the deal has been done. The ‘break’ with the past has been made.
“We have learned that even in failure and collapse, the Lords of Capital are smart enough to know they desperately need a new face, and are willing to bankroll the Black man who can provide it. During this election cycle we learned that capital can switch its party allegiances in an instant, first vetting and then jump-starting the Black candidate who would become the biggest campaign spender in U.S. election history, by far. In 2008, the Democrats became the party of Big Capital, whose choice was Barack Obama. We have learned that capital is never blind to color, when it can be used to capital’s advantage.” — ‘Glen Ford: The Obama ‘08 Phenomenon: What Have We Learned?’
The question of course is, will it work? How long can the pretence be maintained before the tens of millions of voters realize that they have been royally duped? Or, just as with the Bush regime, will the corporate press continue to peddle its lies about the real causes of the crisis and the role of US capital in its cause?
All the indications are that the Obama presidency will differ only in presentation from that of Bush and crucially, electing Obama will not affect the deep economic crisis confronting the capitalist world. A crisis that has now caught up with all those futures and derivatives traders with losses now estimated in the billions if not eventually trillions of dollars:
“NEW YORK (Reuters) – While September was brutal for hedge funds, October was even worse. Hedge funds themselves do not announce their results, but three industry trackers — Barclay Hedge, Hedge Fund Research Inc and Hennessee Group LLC — will disclose over the next few days just how poorly the $1.9 trillion (1.2 trillion pound) industry performed last month.” — ‘Hedge fund results could go from bad to worse’, Reuters, 7 November, 2008
Goldman Sachs for example has lost around $1 billion out of $7 billion invested since January 2008 due to “bad bets on commodities, metals, energy and agriculture” (ibid)
And what holds for Goldman Sachs is true for virtually all the hedge fund and derivatives traders with some announcing even bigger losses.
So how should we respond to the election of Barack Obama? How do you convince the millions of Americans who have pinned their hopes on the election of Barack Obama that it represents a return to no more than (hopefully) business as usual?
The short answer is that we should respond to Obama in exactly the same way we should have responded to Bush, that is to say through mobilization and now even more so given that he was elected on a platform of “change” (without ever defining what this change consisted of).
But instead of mobilizing behind a programme of real change, we allowed the ruling elite to mobilize us on their behalf!
I think Glen Ford over at BAR put it best and thus the last word belongs to him:
“We have learned that this generation will have to learn from damn near scratch what a real social movement looks like – which will be doubly hard, since they have been misled to believe that this year’s frenzied electioneering was actually a ‘movement.’ Now it is over, and one Black man is moving – into the White House, having never promised his Black supporters a single thing of significance. But of course, hardly anyone Black made any demands of Obama.”
Reposted with permission from Jewish Peace News
by Racheli Gai
Jewish Peace News
Nov. 7, 2008
Obama’s first pick – of Rahm Emanuel – for White House chief of staff, is not an indication of “change”, but rather of more of the same, when it comes to Israel/Palestine.
In addition to being a pro-Israel hardliner, Emanuel has been known, according to Abunimah, as a “prominent supporter of neoliberal economic policies on free trade and welfare reform.”
If this early choice is any indication, Obama will need a lot of pressure from the grass roots level for serious change to occur.
Cynthia Peters has written a wonderful article that brings home this point: http://www.zcommunications.org/zspace/commentaries/3673
Here is the email address for Obama’s Transition Office. Let’s flood it with letters and phone calls beginning today. http://change.gov/page/s/contact.
I heard yesterday of difficulties in accessing the above site, so while
Obama is still a US Senator, one could contact his office:
713 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 228-4260 fax
(202 228-1404 TDD
Ali Abunimah: Obama picks pro-Israel hardliner for top post
The Electronic Intifada
5 November 2008
During the United States election campaign, racists and
pro-Israel hardliners tried to make an issue out of
President-elect Barack Obama’s middle name, Hussein. Such
people might take comfort in another middle name, that of
Obama’s pick for White House Chief of Staff: Rahm Israel
By Ty Moore
Nov 7, 2008
“I will never concede defeat,” announced famed antiwar mom Cindy Sheehan after receiving an impressive 29,951 votes – 17 percent – in her insurgent bid for Congress. Sheehan took on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, architect of the Democratic Party’s betrayals following their 2006 takeover of Congress. The campaign faced a media blackout and Pelosi refused repeated calls to debate Sheehan. But supported by dedicated volunteers Sheehan became just the 6th independent candidate in California history to overcome the restrictive ballot access laws, raised over $500,000, and mounted a serious campaign.
On a recent trip to San Francisco, I was able to meet up with Cindy Sheehan and her campaign manager, Tiffany Burns, in their downtown office. It was October 13th, three weeks to election day. We discussed their campaign, but I was especially interested in Sheehan’s recent declaration to launch a new party following November 4th.
“Ever since I left the Democratic Party, and even before, I was writing about how there is not much difference in the two-party system,” Sheehan explained to me. “I’ve seen a lot of energy around Ralph Nader’s campaign, around Cynthia McKinney’s campaign and certainly I see it in my campaign everyday. I see that all three of us basically stand for the same things. Even Ron Paul revolutionaries, who are anti-imperialist – some of them don’t really understand [Ron Paul’s] full program… that certainly was a huge movement. Instead of having such disparate people trying for the same thing, why don’t we join our movements together to make an even bigger movement, to maybe have a viable third party.”
In a previous interview, Sheehan had reportedly already decided to name the new formation the “First Party.” My concern, I explained, was that simply declaring a new party, with a name and program already picked out, could alienate other forces who would want to be part of the process. “I never said I would just form a third party,” Cindy responded. “I said I was going to use the energies of the movement to bring it together. My idea is to call it the First Party.” Cindy also explained, “Right now it’s just an idea. I’ve talked to McKinney about it. I’ve talked to people in the Nader campaign about it… After the elections, win or lose, I’m committed to bringing in all the voices.”
by Pablo Ouziel
Global Research, November 6, 2008
Contrary to popular belief, the big change in America’s society stemming from the recent presidential elections, was not the election of the first African-American president. The most important event has taken place in the intellectual community, in which a paradigm shift has taken place and few have noticed.
The new era of voting for the lesser of the two evils has penetrated the core of America’s critical intellectual community, and some of the biggest voices for change have endorsed Obama. In effect, what has taken place is the union between those opposed to imperial ideology and those endorsing it. Although this serious event has gone largely unnoticed, American intellectuals will need to reflect on its consequences seriously if they are to contribute to the building of a stable future for humanity as a whole, and in particular to mending the tarnished corrupt fabric of American society.
One American intellectual, James Petras, has been able to identify the direct social consequences of such a paradigm shift and prior to the elections has publicly expressed his views in an article titled; The Elections and the Responsibility of the Intellectual to Speak Truth to Power: Twelve Reasons to Reject Obama and Support Nader/McKinney
By Adam Engel
MAYBE we can — but why bother?
Personally, I viewed the whole thing like a boxing match (CNN or FOX or whatever even had an advertisement for election coverage featuring McInsane and Bareback Obama faced off in profile, like fighters). Say, Holyfield versus Tyson (the re-match, after Holyfield’s ear was sewed back on). Ignored the hype qua hype, but once the “bout” began, consciously or unconsciously “took sides.” Just like I wanted Holyfield to give Tyson his “come-uppance” (and just as I wanted the similar thing when Clinton took away the 12 year Reign of Terror by Reagan/Bush I for the heavyweight title in ‘92), I “rooted” for Obama.
Then I had second thoughts. Since, like any other sports event/entertainment, the outcome wouldn’t make much of a difference to this huge sick planet, I thought it might be funnier, more hysterical, just for kicks and guffaws, if McCain was actually “elected” — then succumbed to his melanoma after a few months to issue in the “Palin era.” Also, I actually prefer an outright bully/gangster/thug, like Dubya or John Gotti, who lays his trick cards on the table, to a “friendly executive” like Clinton or the fictional Michael Corleone, who’ll “let you win” then stab you in the back as you’re leaving the Casino.
Then again, what do I know, other than for me, Obama represents the latter?
Regardless, the whole circus reminds me of ‘92, when I was still “green under the apple boughs…”