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Meet the woman trying to turn the White House Green

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[Video]

Power Players

Most voters will likely never know her name, let alone cast a vote for her at the ballot box, but that’s not deterring Dr. Jill Stein from running for president in 2016.

Stein was the Green Party’s presidential nominee in 2012 and is expected to announce Friday the she’s exploring another White House bid in 2016.

Prior to making the announcement, Stein sat down exclusively with “Power Players” to explain why she’s stepping forward as an alternative to the current field of likely presidential contenders that she characterizes as “corrupt and sold out.”

“There are rules that make it possible for the very rich to buy politicians — that’s what’s going on,” Stein said. “There’s a horse race around grabbing the money right now, and I think it speaks volumes about what a really sorry state our political system has come to.”

In her 2012 campaign, Stein received fewer than half a million votes across the country – less than 1 percent of the total popular vote – and was even arrested for trying to get into a televised debate from which she was excluded.

Stein recalled the arrest – and subsequent holding – as “the most bizarre experience you can imagine.”

“For trying to get into that debate, I was actually arrested, taken to a dark site where no one knew where I was — the site was secret — and held handcuffed to metal chairs for approximately eight hours,” Stein said. “It speaks volumes about how terrified the political system is that the voices of principled opposition may actually get heard.”

Before entering politics, Stein was a practicing doctor and authored two books on medical topics. Now, Stein said she’s practicing a different type of medicine.

“What I’m doing now is practicing political medicine, which I call the mother of all illnesses,” Stein said. “If we want to fix what’s ailing us — both our health, our jobs, our foreign policy — which is generating incredible blowback … we need to fundamentally fix our democracy and the political system.”

On a quest against the current political system that she believes has been “bought and paid for by the one percent,” Stein acknowledged that she is waging an uphill battle.

That battle is particularly steep given the Green Party abstains from collecting any corporate donations, at a time when Super PACs and dark money bankroll most major political campaigns.

“What we will raise will be a drop in the ocean compared with what the Koch brothers are spending,” said Stein, who estimates that her 2012 campaign raised a total of around a million dollars. That’s compared to the $900 million that the conservative billionaire businessmen Koch brothers alone plan to spend in the 2016 cycle.

“If we as Americans allow our electoral system to be just bought and sold and that’s it, then there’s really not very much hope going forward in the future,” Stein said, defending the Green Party’s decision not to collect corporate dollars.

In the 2000 presidential election, some Democrats blamed third party candidate Ralph Nader for taking votes away from Democratic nominee Al Gore and helping advance President George W. Bush’s narrow victory.

As a third party candidate herself, it’s a critique Stein is used to hearing – and dismissing.

“We’ve heard of that, what we call the politics of fear, that tells you, ‘You have to be very worried about secondary effects of your vote,’” Stein said. “If you don’t stand up and vote for what you want and you need, then you’re never gonna get it and the system won’t get it.”

For more of the interview with Stein, including why she disagreed with President Obama’s declaration of a strong economic recovery in his State of the Union address, check out this episode of “Power Players.”

ABC News’ Ali Dukakis, Gary Westphalen, Richard Norling, and Shari Thomas contributed to this episode.

Jill Stein, Cheri Honkala arrested, call tonight’s debate a “mockumentary”

Jill-Stein-Cheri-Honkala-CPD-Debate-arrest.png(HEMPSTEAD, NY) – Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, the Green presidential and vice-presidential nominees, were just now forcibly prevented from entering the grounds of tonight’s presidential debate organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). See a video here.

Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala will appear on 85% of ballots on Election Day, and recently polled 2-3% in four consecutive national polls. The Federal government recognizes Jill Stein as a qualified presidential candidate, having approved her campaign for federal matching funds. Yet the two women were arrested by local police when they tried to enter the grounds of Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York, where the debate is scheduled to take place. They are currently still in police custody.

Be-the-Debate.pngDr. Stein and Ms. Honkala walked with supporters toward the Hofstra campus at 2:00pm EST today. There they were met by three ranks of police officers in uniform and plainclothes. At this point, the Green Party candidates held an impromptu press conference in which Dr. Stein called the CPD debate a “mockumentary,” saying that, “We are here to bring the courage of those excluded from our politics to this mock debate, this mockery of democracy.”

Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala then turned and began walking onto the debate grounds, at which point the rank of police officers physically stopped them and pushed them back. The two women sat down and the police arrested them, saying that Stein and Honkala would be charged with “obstructing traffic,” a charge Jill Stein for President staffer and lawyer Alex Howard called “bogus” in that there was no through-traffic visible at any time during the incident. 

The presidential debates are the first opportunity for millions of voters to see the candidates themselves, not just their advertising campaigns. These debates are organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) – a supposedly “nonpartisan” entity which is a puppet of and serves the interests of the Democrats, Republicans and the big corporations that fund both of them. The CPD’s criteria to be included in these debates is designed to exclude independent presidential contenders who promote ideas that challenge those in power.

Over 14,000 have signed a statement calling on CPD to change its criteria, and repeated public calls for opening the CPD debates have been ignored by that corporation.

“The debates must include every candidate who is on enough ballots to win the White House and who has demonstrated a minimal level of support — meaning either 1% of the vote in a credible national poll, or qualification for federal matching funds, or both,” reads the statement. “In 2012, the Green and Libertarian party candidates both meet all of these criteria and are both contenders for the presidency…These debates belong to the people, not the politicians or Wall Street.”

In addition there have been protests all over the country about this issue including in Boston, home of the Romney headquarters, and in Denver and Kentucky – the sites of the two recent presidential and vice presidential debates.

Jill Stein will be participating in at least four debates coming up, during which the American people will be able to learn the real range of options available to them this election.  Below are the list of debates in which Jill Stein will be participating:

Leaked Debate Agreement Shows Both Obama and Romney are Sniveling Cowards

Gawker.com

Time‘s Mark Halperin has made himself useful for once by obtaining, and publishing,a copy of the 21-page memorandum of understanding that the Obama and Romney campaigns negotiated with the Commission on Presidential Debates establishing the rules governing this month’s presidential and vice presidential face-offs. The upshot: Both campaigns are terrified at anything even remotely spontaneous happening.

They aren’t permitted to ask each other questions, propose pledges to each other, or walk outside a “predesignated area.” And for the town-hall-style debate tomorrow night, the audience members posing questions aren’t allowed to ask follow-ups (their mics will be cut off as soon as they get their questions out). Nor will moderator Candy Crowley.

Most bizarrely, given the way the debates have played out, the rules actually appear to forbid television coverage from showing reaction shots of the candidates: “To the best of the Commission’s abilities, there will be no TV cut-aways to any candidate who is not responding to a question while another candidate is answering a question or to a candidate who is not giving a closing statement while another candidate is doing so.” The “best of the Commission’s abilities” must be rather feable, seeing as how almost every moment of the two debates so far was televised in split-screen, clearly showing shots of a “candidate who is not responding to a question while another candidate is answering a question.”

Which means some of the rules below that both campaigns stipulated to in a desperate attempt to wring any serendipity out of the events may be honored in the breach:

  • “The candidates may not ask each other direct questions during any of the four debates.”
  • “The candidates shall not address each other with proposed pledges.”
  • “At no time during the October 3 First Presidential debate shall either candidate move from his designated area behing the respective podium.”
  • For the October 16 town-hall-style debate, “the moderator will not ask follow-up questions or comment on either the questions asked by the audience or the answers of the candidates during the debate….”
  • “The audience members shall not ask follow-up questions or otherwise participate in the extended discussion, and the audience member’s microphone shall be turned off after he or she completes asking the questions.”
  • “[T]he Commission shall take appropriate steps to cut-off the microphone of any…audience member who attempts to pose any question or statement different than that previously posed to the moderator for review.”
  • “No candidate may reference or cite any specific individual sitting in a debate audience (other than family members) at any time during a debate.”
  • For the town-hall debate: “Each candidate may move about in a pre-designated area, as proposed by the Commission and approved by each campaign, and may not leave that area while the debate is underway.”

Here’s the full document:

The 2012 Debates – Memorandum of Understanding Between the Obama and Romney Campaigns

I’m Over Obama, and Over to the Green Party

By TIM SULLIVAN  at WNYC’s It’s A Free Country 

Opinion im over obama and over green party

After several years as a Democrat, followed by more than a decade as an unaffiliated voter, I decided to change my registration to the Green Party for this year’s election. I joined the Greens not because I support every plank of their platform, but because I am tired of voting for the least bad candidate. The response of both major parties to the 2008 financial crisis compels me to join a party that really believes in changing the power structure in the United States.

The Green Party seemed the most reasonable choice. I think it is now beyond arguable that voting for Democrats and/or Republicans is essentially voting to maintain the status quo, which is precisely what needs changing. The personnel in office is less important than the system that personnel serves.

A vote for Obama (not to mention Romney), is a vote for the status quo. I am choosing to vote for a party, and a presidential candidate in Jill Stein, that would actually change things if elected. Like a lot of independents who voted for Obama in 2008, I thought I was voting for change. I was not naive, I knew he was a politician from the Democratic Party Establishment, but I thought a liberal intellectual, our first black president, might change things in important ways, especially in foreign policy.

But I was wrong. He withdrew from Iraq, yes, but on Bush’s timetable; he escalated the war in Afghanistan; he spent a billion dollars intervening in Libya; he continued the “extraordinary rendition” program; and failed not only to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but even to prosecute its inmates in our civilian federal courts.

Domestically, I don’t even want to discuss Obamacare, which is not national health insurance by any stretch of the imagination, but we must. I still find it surreal that the Democrats, controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, failed to institute national health insurance, partly because the administration, and the party’s recent vice-presidential nominee (Joseph Lieberman), bowed to the insurance lobby.

On the energy front, the U.S. has not even begun a serious transition to alternatives to carbon fuels. And, somehow, the Democrats have become a party that supports capital punishment, despite massive evidence that it has failed miserably and is applied in a racist manner. Economically, the president extended the Bush-Paulson bailouts and acquiesced in renewal of the Bush tax cuts, despite repeated vows to the contrary.

As for social spending, I expect the Republicans to advocate cuts in Medicare and Social Security, but I’m still trying to figure out how the Democrats can, with a straight face, do the same.  Furthermore, in a policy that boggles the mind, Obama brags about having cut the payroll tax, the primary source of funding for Social Security.

The Green Party is on the other side of all those issues, foreign and domestic. I don’t agree with everything the Greens advocate, but on the issues that I consider most significant for America’s future, the Greens are on the right track. They certainly do not represent the status quo. For one thing, Green candidates do not accept corporate donations. Their program, which is called the “Green New Deal,” calls for a cut of 70 percent in military spending, massive public investment in renewable energy, a carbon tax, single-payer national health insurance, tax reform and limits on credit interest rates.

To my friends who argue for economic justice, tax fairness, and true campaign finance reform, I say: you will never see any of that if you continue to support candidates and parties that are beholden to wealthy donors, whether they be individuals, unions, or the financial, defense and insurance industries. The system works as well for the Democrats as it does for the Republicans, and I no longer think being an unaffiliated voter choosing between the two is a viable option.

I know Jill Stein has no more chance of getting elected than Ralph Nader had, but I reject the argument that a vote for her is wasted. Either Obama or Romney will lose the election, so by that reasoning a vote for one of them is going to be wasted, as well. Change has to start someplace. 

Gar Alperovitz’s Green Party Keynote: We Are Laying Groundwork for the “Next Great Revolution”

From Democracy Now!: At the Green Party’s 2012 National Convention in Baltimore over the weekend, Massachusetts physician Jill Stein and anti-poverty campaigner Cheri Honkala were nominated the party’s presidential and vice-presidential contenders. We air the convention’s keynote address delivered by Gar Alperovitz, a professor of political economy at the University of Maryland and co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative. Alperovitz is the author of, “America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy.” In his remarks, Alperovitz stressed the importance of third-party politics to challenge a corporate-run society. “Systems in history are defined above all by who controls the wealth,” Alperovitz says. “The top 400 people own more wealth now than the bottom 185 million Americans taken together. That is a medieval structure.”


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Running mate revealed: Green Party running mate, that is

Cheri Honkala

(CBS News) On the day before the Green Party’s presidential nominating convention, presidential candidate Jill Stein revealed her running mate to CBS News exclusively: homeless activist Cheri Honkala.

“She leads one of the country’s largest multiracial, intergenerational movements led by people in poverty, fighting poverty, homelessness and foreclosures,” Stein told CBS news. Honkala, a mother of two, and the national coordinator for the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, spent some of her days homeless. She ran for sheriff of Philadelphia on the Green Party line in 2011 and based her campaign on a platform of halting evictions.

Stein, who defeated comedian Roseanne Barr for the Green Party’s nod, will be officially nominated at the party’s national convention in Baltimore, which begins Thursday. Stein, a physician, is from Massachusetts and has launched two unsuccessful bids for governor there, including against Mitt Romney in 2002.

Jill Stein

Stein spoke to CBS News this week in advance of her nomination:

What do you think about the president’s plan to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 per year?

Stein: That’s a good thing. I think, well, partly a good thing. I think our tax structure is extremely unbalanced and our middle class and working families are generally overtaxed. If the president is set to reduce taxes below $250,000, that’s good up to a point but there’s so much more that can be done. If we really want to correct the severe inequities in the tax structure, we need to tax capital gains as income, we need to put a tax on Wall Street transactions not only to generate hundreds of billions of dollars, but also to reduce the speculation that has been so reckless and harmful to our economy.

As a physician, what is your response to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the president’s health care bill?

Stein: It’s very problematic. I think the Supreme Court’s decision destroys the most useful part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – that is the Medicaid extension. We have a track record here. We don’t have to just guess what he impact of the ACA will be. We already have it in Massachusetts, where I live. We’ve already had it for five years. It has not been a solution. The cost of health care continues to skyrocket.

On the other hand we have a real track record of what does work. It’s called national health insurance, Medicare for all. We actually achieve health and we do it in a way that provides health care to everyone at less than half the cost per person. We know that under Medicare for all, we would be saving trillions of dollars over the next decade because it eliminates the wasteful health insurance bureaucracy and it stabilizes medical inflation. This is the way to go.

You have a “Green New Deal” to employ “every American willing and able to work.” Is this your economic plan? And how do you plan to do it?

Stein: By using our tax dollars instead of to provide a stimulus package that’s predominately tax breaks for corporations, instead we use a comparable amount of money and put it into the direct creation of jobs. And again, this is not a hypothetical idea. It’s based on a plan that helped markedly to get us out of the Great Depression of the 1930s. This would not be a cookie cutter, top-down Washington-controlled program. Rather it would be nationally funded but locally controlled where by communities decide what kinds of jobs they need to become sustainable. It would create jobs in what we think of as the Green economy, but it would also create jobs meeting our social needs – hiring back teaches, nurses, after-school care [providers], violence prevention.

 You have a lot of proposals, including tuition-free education through college, Medicare for all, also known as Single Payer, how would you pay for it, since the country is already trillions in debt?

Stein: You need money to jump start this but these are investments that pay for themselves many times over. You jump start it by stopping the bleeding. We are squandering trillions of dollars on wars for oil that we don’t need and don’t make us more secure, on Wall Street and tax breaks for the wealthy. To look at, for example, the military budget, it’s costing us about a trillion dollars a year according to several different sources, so by reducing military to about the size it was in the early 2000s before it doubled under [President] Bush, we could free up hundreds of billions of dollars a year that could go a long way to pay for these costs.

Add to that: Tax reforms that begin to ask the wealthy to contribute their fair share. Corporations used to contribute about 5 percent GDP, their contribution is now about 1 percent.

And by ceasing to support bail outs for Wall Street, we can also free up a lot of money. When you actually sit down and you do the ledger, the money that can be saved by these boon dongles squandering money actually saves us money.

Right now there is no exit strategy for the severe recession we are really in. Neither Romney nor Obama has the beginning of an idea of how we really fix this. All they are doing is talking about restoring it to the same old phony economy of high finance that has taken us over the edge to start with.

We are talking about transforming our economy so it actually works for people, for our communities and for our environment.

Comedian Roseanne Barr says she is still in the running, are you confident that you are the nominee and what do you think of Ms. Barr’s candidacy?

Stein: I’m confident we have the nomination. We have over two-thirds of the delegates being appropriated. I am quite confident we have the nomination. I think more celebrities should do what Roseanne is doing. This is a good thing for celebrities to not only sit back in the comfort of their second homes, of their third homes, and to actually put themselves out there in trying to create a better world. I wish other people of great stature and wealth would do the same.

You launched two unsuccessful bids for the Massachusetts governor, including against Mitt Romney in 2002. Why the presidency?

Stein: Success is in the mind of the beholder. One way to measure success is winning the office. Another way to measure success is changing the dialogue. Right now we have a dialogue that is horribly misguided, a dialogue that is not only boring but attention repelling, to use the words of the New York Times to describe the Romney campaign. This race is not only about me. This race is about the American people, and the American people have indicated clearly over and over that they are not happy – not with the president, not with Congress, not with the Supreme Court, not with their jobs, not with their declining wages, not with the skyrocketing cost of health care and education and these endless wars for oil.

Right now the American people have not been given a lot of choices.

Why does the Green Party focus on national elections, such as the presidency, which has to be rebuilt every four years? Why not start to build a strong coalition at the local or state level?

Stein: It’s very important in our view to do both. When you do have real social progress you have both a social movement on the ground and you have an independent political party to help articulate that social movement. As Fredrick Douglas famously said, ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand – it never has, it never will.’ Our goal is to drive those demands forward into the broader political dialogue and thereby help leverage and strengthen that social movement.

Here in my state of Massachusetts, we have essentially used this model to build an opposition party. It’s true we did not win the office but we sure shook things up. The ideas I was bringing into the elections really started to move things in a way that the establishment politics got pretty nervous about it. We think that’s a good thing.

Being Green: Presidential hopeful Jill Stein aims to rebuild a broken system

By Greg Hanscom [Grist]

Lost amid the carnival of embarrassments that is the Republican presidential primary is the fact that there is another primary race underway: the Green Party’s. “What?” you say. “Those guys are still around?” Well yes, but they’re not guys.

The front-runner in the race is Jill Stein, a Boston physician and veteran activist and candidate with the Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party. (Note to the good people of the Bay State: We get that you’re trying to be inclusive, but a name like that is NO WAY to win respect in the world.) She is currently trouncing the second-place runner, former sitcom starRoseanne Barr. (Note to the good people of the Green Party: Oh, never mind …)

Lest you think this is all rainbows and ponies, however, Stein is not messing around. She says she became involved in politics after witnessing firsthand the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, learning disorders, autism — problems that she traces to toxic chemicals, an industrial food system, and a society built around the automobile.

Stein’s presidential platform includes universal health care, tuition-free higher education, and forgiveness of student debt. And at the center of it all is a Green New Deal that she says will put millions of people to work, tackle the climate crisis, and address our failing health as well.

The Green Party will choose its candidate for president at a national convention in Baltimore in July. If things continue as they have been, Stein will win the spot handily. (She has won 10 of 10 state primaries, plus the District of Columbia.) I talked with her earlier this week.

Q. Your website today says Mitt Romney has invited you to debate him. It’s an April Fools’ joke, right?

A. Well, that part of it is a joke. He did not invite us. But the rest of it is actually true. I have debated him [during the 2002 race for Massachusetts governor], and I was declared winner by more than one objective source.

Q. Did someone really say you were the only adult in the room?

A. Yes, that was an editorial in the Boston Globe, and if you watch the debateyou’ll see why.

Q. Doesn’t a sense of humor automatically disqualify you from the presidency?

A. A sense of humor and lack of corporate funding are substantial obstacles. But I think that we’re part of a very large movement to change the way that politics works — so that the joke is no longer on us.

Q. Running for president under the Green Party banner, your motivations have to be something besides actually landing in the White House. I assume your campaign is largely an effort to change the system.

A. That’s right, and a journey begins with the first step. That said, no one in their right mind ever expected that young people in the streets were going to give the boot to an entrenched dictator, either in Egypt or in Tunisia. So remarkable things have been happening, likewise with the Occupy movement. There is enormous public will out there for substantive change.

The solutions that we are promoting — we don’t need to convince people that we need a climate we can live in, that we need health care as a human right, that we need to be creating jobs rather than just giving more tax breaks and giveaways to CEOs who just pocket the change — these are solutions that people already support. The question is whether we can actually harness our political system and move them forward.

Q. As disappointing as Obama has been, there’s a lot at stake in this election. Why should voters give you a vote when we could end up with a situation like we saw with Ralph Nader and Al Gore in 2000?

A. Progressives have been told we dare not vote for our values and our vision because dangerous things will happen — witness Ralph Nader. We have 10 years of experience with muzzling ourselves politically, and it’s very clear now that silence has not been an effective political strategy, and that the politics of fear in fact has delivered all those things that we were afraid of.

Obama has basically embraced most of Bush’s policies, including drill baby drill, pro-nuke, pro-coal, undermining the Durban [climate] accords. He’s celebrating the beginnings of the Keystone pipeline. We still have twice as many troops in Afghanistan as we had under George Bush. The only reason Obama withdrew from Iraq was because he was unable to negotiate immunity for the troops, so he wound up having to accept what was George Bush’s timeline for withdrawal.

So the point here is that by being quiet, we have essentially allowed corporations to run government whole hog. Obama has been very responsive to his corporate sponsors. So it’s really critical that we have an opposition voice.

Q. In how many states are you even on the ballot?

A. We’re currently on in 20 states. We expect to be on the ballot in 46, maybe 48 states. We do have some very difficult states — two that are impossible barring millions and millions of dollars.

Q. Is there any hope of getting you into a real debate?

A. Absolutely. The Commission on Presidential Debates has a standard, which is 15 percent [of the national electorate, as determined by public opinion polls]. If everybody who cared about the climate got on board and actually stood up and said that they’re supporting this campaign, that alone might be enough to get us into the debates. If all the students out there who are up to their eyeballs in debt stood up for this campaign, we would easily be at 15 percent.

If I can quote Alice Walker, “The biggest way people give up power is by not knowing they have it to start with.” And that’s true, for the environmental movement, the student movement, the antiwar movement, health-care-as-a-human-right movement — you put us all together, we have the potential for a Tahrir Square type event, and [to] turn the White House into a Green House in November.

Q. Is the Green Party itself something of a kiss of death in this country right now?

A. We ran a referendum here in Massachusetts — I’m talking about the Green Party along with some nonprofits. The referendum was non-binding. We basically proposed redefining economic development to be green, sustainable, re-localized, and healthy, and to create local small businesses and cooperatives in the green sectors of the economy, rather than just dishing out billions to multinational corporations that are part of the old fossil fuel economy.

We didn’t have money to spend on the referendum. We were hoping maybe we could get 10 or 15 percent [of the vote]. We actually got between 85 and 95 percent in every community — not just the treehuggers, but also the postindustrial, desperately poor urban communities as well. To me, it confirmed what I find in my everyday experience: People are into this. They get it.

Q. You’re using the same model for the Green New Deal you’re pushing on the national level. Tell us about that.

A. It’s an emergency solution that will put 25 million people back to work, end unemployment, jump-start the green economy for the 21st century, and substantively combat climate change. It would put communities in charge of defining what jobs they need. These jobs would be community-based, living-wage, full-time jobs, and would basically run the spectrum of jobs that make communities sustainable — clean manufacturing, local organic agriculture, public transportation, energy-efficient as well as active transportation, and of course clean renewable energy, conservation, weatherization, efficiency.

We would also include teachers, nurses, day care, violence prevention, drug rehabilitation, affordable housing construction, etc., so there would be a spectrum of jobs that make our communities environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. The cost would be on the order of the first stimulus package, but it would create a whole lot more jobs, because the first stimulus package was largely tax breaks and subsidies for large corporations.

Q. I think a lot of working people feel burned by the green economy because we didn’t see the jobs that people like Van Jones were promising — certainly not right away.

A. It’s not only the green jobs that failed. Obama’s promotion of additional free trade agreements has been devastating to working people. He has not delivered on the Employee Free Choice Act. He has not stood up to the so-called “right to work” states, which actually undermine not only worker pay but also safety on the job.

Obama’s first appointments were Larry Summers, who laid the foundation for Wall Street’s waste, fraud, and abuse. He then went on to appoint Timothy Geithner to be head of the Treasury, who had headed the New York Fed while all that was going on. And then he brought in Jeff Immelt, the king of layoffs and factory closures. The head of GE was brought in to head Obama’s jobs council — the guy who had off-shored more jobs than any single person in America was brought in to head the Obama jobs program.

So it’s no wonder that working people are very skeptical of whatever Obama’s going to propose. And I think vote for him only out of fear. And that’s where Alice Walker comes in again, that the biggest way people give up power is by not knowing they have it.

Q. Last question: How do you travel on the campaign trail? Humvee? Private jet?

A. My dream is to get a veggie-oil bus. I take the train whenever I can. When there’s no choice, I fly, and when we drive, we drive in a Prius. So we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk all the way.

Greg Hanscom is a senior editor at Grist. He tweets about cities, bikes, transportation, policy, and sustainability at @ghanscom.

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