The Political Bohemian Rhapsody

In the spirit of the Jib Jab animations, the Political Bohemian Rhapsody from Flowgo.

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Bush speaks, Kerry talks, neither acts

James P. Pinkerton [Newsday]

OK, maybe the last week of a presidential campaign is not the time to get straight talk from the candidates.

However, given the importance of the security issue, post-9/11, one would hope to hear more honest realism from both George W. Bush and John Kerry. But instead, we’re 0 for 2.

Politicians are human. Like all of us, they are prone to exaggeration and overpromising. But unlike the rest of us, they do it for a living. So even when they should know better, they keep doing it.
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Why I’m Voting for Nader

Yes, as before Nader’s not a Green, but the ABBA pro Kerry stance of the GP-US presidential and VP candidates, see previous post for one example, is shown for what it is here. -RS

Author: Red Emma e-mail:e-mail: redemma13@yahoo.com

My name is Kathleen Juergens, and this article consists of my response to an online “Nader Voter Survey” conducted by Greg Bates of Common Courage Press. I am posting it as a contribution to the public discourse around the election, not as an attack on anybody who is voting for Kerry, a decision which is their right to make. I request that anybody who is forwarding or republishing these remarks do so in their entirety, and not quote me out of context. Blessed be!

1. Do you live in a swing state? Which one?

I live in Oregon.

2. Are you still planning to vote Nader? Why?

Absolutely! For me, voting for Nader is not about philosophical purity, making a statement of protest or salving my conscience (although it’s true that I couldn’t live with myself if I voted for Kerry). If I were going to vote for the candidate who best represented my positions on the issues, it would be one of the smaller socialist candidates, not Nader. For me, voting for Nader is first and foremost about STRATEGY.

Voting for Nader is not just a symbolic gesture, it is a concrete exercise of political power–in this case, the power to withhold my vote, which is the only real power the electoral system gives us lowly citizens. Using this power is the only way I can impose real consequences on the lily-livered, Republican-wannabe jackass-party guys who have sold me down the river far, far too many times. And as anybody who has ever dealt with an alcoholic or parented a toddler knows, the only way to get someone’s negative behavior to change is to make sure they experience negative consequences for it. Not “punishment,” but the natural consequence that the misbehaver has brought upon him or herself, as the Democrats will have brought it upon themselves if they lose this election.

I have heard lots of arguments for voting against Bush (no argument there–I don’t plan to vote for Bush!) but I have not yet heard anybody make the case for why voting for Kerry makes sense strategically. “Anybody but Bush” is not a strategy, it is an abject and complete surrender, an unmistakeable message to the Democratic party that there are now no limits to the amount of abuse we will accept from them. The idea that we should unite to elect Kerry now, and hold him accountable once he’s in office–this is not a strategy either, but a ridiculous and dangerous fantasy. I say this as a veteran of 8 years and 3 jail terms protesting Clinton, during which time he did not once listen to us, ever.

Strategic withholding of one’s vote can work with any third-party candidate, but Nader’s candidacy promises to have the most impact. Sad to say, he continues to be the only political figure who has both nation-wide name recognition AND an unimpeachable reputation for personal integrity, not to mention almost a half century of real public policy experience. Plus he scares the liberals to death, which means he must be doing something right. Michael Moore didn’t get down on his knees to beg Roger Calero of the Socialist Workers’ Party not to run.

3. If Nader wasn’t running, would you vote for Kerry? Explain.
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Green Party VP wants Bush out — at any cost

“I do not say vote for Kerry, I do not say the K word. So he’s not the perfect solution, he’s the only one we have,” she said.

Funny, I though David Cobb, among others, was running. -RS

By Hannah Plotkin , [The Dartmouth Online]

From the results of the 2000 election, Green Party vice presidential candidate Pat Lamarche knows that third-party candidates can have an important impact on an election’s outcome.

She also knows that, more than anything, she wants President Bush out of office– even if that means putting the objectives of the Green Party on hold temporarily.

Speaking to a small group of students last night, Lamarche focused on efforts to remove Bush from the White House rather than promoting herself. She accepts that voting for a Green candidate is not the feasible way to get this done.

Along with the party’s presidential candidate, David Cobb, Lamarche intends to minimize that role in order to prioritize Bush’s removal from the White House.

“It’s time to get rid of George Bush,” she said. “He’s the worst president in the history of America.”

Although not technically endorsing Sen. John Kerry for the presidency, Lamarche made it clear that she sees him as the lesser of two evils.
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Kerry and the Environment

It’s Not Easy Pretending to be Green

By JOSHUA FRANK

[CounterPunch]

Despite John Kerry’s cozy relationship with big green organizations like the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters, the Senator should not be mistaken as a friend of the environment.

For example, Kerry, who voted against the Kyoto Protocol, told Grist Magazine in an interview last year: “[The Kyoto agreement] doesn’t ask enough of developing nations, the nations that are going to be producing much greater emissions and which we need to get on the right course now through technology transfer.” Perhaps someone should clue Senator Kerry into the awful truth-that although the US accounts for only 4% of the world’s population, we still emit over a quarter of the globe’s CO2. Shouldn’t we, then, be setting an example?

In 2003, Kerry decided not to cast a vote against a portion of Bush’s chainsaw-happy Forest Plan (HR 1904), which authorized $760 million to thin-out dense national forests under the pretext of increasing ecosystem health. The version of Bush’s plan that passed the House and Senate was actually rewritten by two veteran Democratic Senators-Diane Feinstein of California and Ron Wyden of Oregon, who just happens to be the top timber industry cash recipient eight years running. Kerry, however, has promised he will treat our environment much like Clinton did during those glorious 1990s. Unfortunately, that’s not saying a whole hell of a lot.

As the 1996 response of Ralph Nader supporters responded to Clinton’s first term, the Clinton/Gore administration was hardly the beacon of environmental action it claimed to be: First there was the WTI hazardous waste incinerator located outside East Liverpool, Ohio, which Al Gore had repeatedly promised to shut down. Within weeks of taking office, operating permits were issued. This was followed by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt’s destructive deal with the sugar barons of South Florida, which doomed vast acreages of the Everglades. Then the administration capitulated to the demands of Western Democrats and yanked from its initial budget proposals a call to reform grazing, mining, and timber practices on federal lands. When Clinton convened a timber summit in Portland, Oregon, in April 1994, the conference was, as expected, dominated by logging interests. Predictably, the summit gave way to plan to restart clear-cutting in the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest for the first time in three years, giving the timber industry its wish.

In July 1995, the administration dealt its heaviest blow to the U.S. environment by signing the so-called Salvage Logging Rider, known to radical enviros as the “Logging without Laws Rider.” This gruesome bill suspended the application of all environmental laws governing federal forests. And on the eve of the 1996 Democratic convention, President Clinton gave the food and chemical industries a victory they had sought for over long 40 years when he signed a bill striking down the Delaney clause, a law that prohibited the addition of carcinogens to processed foods, the result of which could cause cancer in millions of people in the decades to come. But Kerry still wants to resurrect Clinton.

This — combined with Kerry’s support for Fast Track legislation, NAFTA, WTO, bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan, along with his refusal to oppose hilltop strip mining (mountain top removal), his intervention with National Marine Fisheries Service when they attempted to restrict Cob fishing off the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and chemical fumigation in Colombia to counter coca and opium production — provides us with a clear indication that not only is Kerry not an environmentalist, he’s also not that good at pretending to be. Reverting back to the Clinton era, as Kerry promises to do, provides no remedies for the enviro problems that ail us.

Well, at least Kerry isn’t marinated in crude oil like Bush, you say? Not so fast there. Kerry recently told Teamster’s president Jimmy Hoffa that while he opposes drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, he has no qualms with drilling “everywhere else like never before.” Where is this “everywhere?” How about the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, the red rocks in Utah, the Rocky Mountain flats, the coasts of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, just to name a few? Kerry, it seems, has no alternative energy plan whatsoever; he simply wants to drill for more oil. Call Bush Kerry’s mentor.

More recently Senator Kerry took an afternoon off the campaign trail to spend it with the American Gas Association. At the gathering, Kerry pledged his support for a Trans-Alaska-Canada Natural Gas Pipeline. This devastating conduit would cut across some of the most pristine wilderness and taiga in the world, and by far the most untouched landscape in North America. While the Trans-Alaska Pipeline is a modest creation next to Kerry’s grand vision, the Senator still receives fabulous ratings from the big environmental groups.

This is not to say that Bush hasn’t devastated the environment. But the belief that John Kerry is an environmental crusader is a pure fabrication, put forth by Beltway Greens to convince voters that Kerry and Bush stand in stark contrast to one another when it comes to cleaning up and protecting our environment. Instead, they should be telling voters and environmentalists that our struggles for environmental justices must continue — regardless of who wins November’s electoral contest.

Joshua Frank, a contributor to CounterPunch’s forthcoming book, A Dime’s Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils, is putting the finishing touches on Left Out: How Liberals did Bush’s Work for Him, to be published by Common Courage Press. He welcomes comments at frank_joshua@hotmail.com.

This election is just no joke

Ellis Henican [Newsday]

Times are tough. The issues are serious. The race is as tense as a Florida trailer court in hurricane time.

But does that really mean the candidates are forbidden from joking around? Sure seems that way on the campaign trail!

George W. Bush and John Kerry just might go down in history as two of the most humor-deprived candidates ever to seek the presidency. Forget Republicans and Democrats, this is Somber against Dull. Compared to these guys, Richard Nixon was fun.

Quick! What’s the signature campaign quip from 2004? That’s right! There isn’t one! With a stack of precinct maps and a tracking poll, these two couldn’t find their way to a punch line.
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I Won’t Regret My Vote for a Minute

Confessions of a Swing State Voter
By JEFF TAYLOR

Editors’ Note: What follows is Jeff Taylor’s response to the Greg Bates’s survey of swing state voters published in CounterPunch on October 12, 2004. Taylor wrote the chapter on Paul Wellstone in CounterPunch’s new volume, Dime’s Worth of Difference.

1. Do you live in a swing state? Which one?

Yes. Minnesota.

2. Are you still planning to vote Nader? Why?

Yes. Because Nader is by far the best candidate running for President in 2004. He’s an honest, humane, informed, and intelligent man. He shares my ideology (populism). I agree with him on most of the issues (but not all–we disagree on some social issues).

3. If Nader wasn’t running, would you vote for Kerry? Explain.

No. I would not vote for Kerry under any circumstances. I’ve been familiar with John Forbes Kerry since he was elected to the Senate in the 1980s as an inspiration for all self-satisfied yuppies. Like Bush, Kerry was born into wealth and tapped for Skull & Bones while at Yale. I think Kerry has always been an ambitious and opportunistic politician with a commitment to plutocracy, militarism, and imperialism (despite occasional rhetoric to the contrary). I disagree with Kerry on every major issue of the day. There’s no rational reason to vote for a man I neither respect nor agree with. If Nader wasn’t on the Minnesota ballot, I would either write-in his name, vote for a different third-party candidate, or not vote at all.

4. Assuming you plan to vote Nader, do you think your vote could help tip the election to Bush by taking a vote from Kerry?

No. I’m not taking a vote from Kerry because voting for Kerry was never a possibility for me. Kerry never had my vote–or the vote of anyone else–in his back pocket. The votes are cast on Election Day. Until that time, they belong to individual voters, not politicians or parties. My one vote is not going to reelect Bush. I’m not going to vote for Bush. If I voted for Bush, I would be morally complicit in his past and future misdeeds. In my case, I’m voting FOR Ralph Nader because he’s the best man and I generally agree with him…and AGAINST Bush because he deserves to lose. Kerry also deserves to lose. I only have one vote. One popular vote has never determined a presidential election and it’s very unlikely it ever will. Even in a “swing state,” one popular vote doesn’t make any significant difference. Despite all the controversy of 2000, in the end, with the way the votes were counted, Bush defeated Gore in Florida by hundreds of votes (not one vote). I only have one vote and one c
onscience. I’m not going to divorce the two for the sake of a strategy aimed at gullible voters and devised by dishonest Democrats.

5. Are you aware of the costs of another Bush presidency? If yes, what accounts for your determination to vote Nader?

Yes. Bush is a bad president, but the badness of his presidency has been exaggerated vis-a-vis other presidencies. His administration is no better or worse than most during the past century. After four years of a Republican president, the Democrats always pull out the “sky is falling” mantra to stir up fear and hysteria among those who comprise their political base. The Republicans do the same thing when Democrats have the White House. It’s just part of the game. The extreme, manichean rhetoric during the election season might lead you to think that the national leaders of the two major parties believe in something beyond personal power and privilege, but that’s almost never the case. It has nothing to do with policy or issues or their impact on the 99% of Americans who lack power, money, and fame. It’s a charade.

George W. Bush is the latest in a long line of bipartisan plutocrats, militarists, and imperialists (and liars). Every major misdeed of his administration has an antecedent under Bill Clinton and/or his predecessors. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis died at the hands of Clinton/Gore because they kept the sanctions in place. The 9/11 attack was planned during the Clinton years…and Clinton chose to keep U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, continue U.S. backing of Israeli oppression, and maintain U.S. dependence on middle eastern oil (thus making Americans more unsafe).

Clinton started a war against Serbs without any conceivable threat to the American people, without UN approval, and without the congressional declaration required by the Constitution. Anglo-American imperialism took the lives of many innocent people in the Balkans in the 1990s with the support of the Democratic Party. The Bosnia and Kosovo wars were justified by the demonization of Milosovich, as if U.S. foreign policy is actually determined by things like concern for human life or human rights. The propaganda about Milosovich echoed and foreshadowed the same verbal attack on Hussein. Of course, Milosovich was a thug, but he and the Serbs did not have a monopoly on atrocities during the Balkan civil war (as Clinton, Gore, Albright, and Kerry well knew). Instead of acknowledging this, and allowing the Europeans to continue working on a brokered peace, the Democrats poured gasoline on the fire and killed more innocent people. The Patriot Act is an updating of the Anti-Terrorism Act crea
ted by Clinton in 1996. CAFTA proposed by Bush builds upon NAFTA pushed by Clinton. Kerry supported war against Iraq as early as 1998, when many congressional Democrats were agitating for bloodshed.

It should go without saying that Senator Kerry has supported President Bush in every major policy area during the past few years, including the Iraqi war resolution, No Child Left Behind, Patriot Act, coddling of the Chinese government, and oppression of the Palestinians. Looking to the future, Kerry has promised to “try to” withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of his first term (if circumstances permit). That’s quite a promise to those of us who oppose the war! At least four more years of American troops killing and being killed in an occupied country. Kerry’s approach to Iraq is identical to that of Bush, except he thinks he can talk some Europeans into sending troops to the quagmire for international political cover. Kerry has repeatedly said that we have to “win” the war in Iraq and he’s going to stay the course. He constantly talks out of both sides of his mouth, but, in this instance, I believe him. Peaceniks should wake up. With Kerry, “hope” is not on the way–it’s only f
alse hope. The faux war hero is promising a “stronger America” at a time when the world–and Americans–need just the opposite. Widely perceived, for good reason, as a global bully, America needs to be humbler or even weaker–not stronger.

I think war against Iran is more likely under Kerrry than Bush. Just listen to what Kerry, Edwards, and the Democratic platform are saying about Iran. This would be a perfect opportunity for John “Reporting for Duty” Kerry to prove how macho he is, expand the American empire, please the Israeli government, and help out U.S.-based oil companies. In the second debate, Kerry was specifically asked how he would handle Iran if they don’t stop working on their reputed nuclear program. In typical fashion, he gave a mealy-mouthed answer but ended up saying, “If we have to get tough with Iran, believe me, we will get tough.” If you support war with Iraq, vote for Kerry because he’s the most likely candidate to give you what you want. (If he does, maybe some of the neoconservatives will return to their Democratic home and join the DLC hawks who have long loved Kerry and Edwards.)

Is Bush bad? Of course. Is Kerry just as bad? Yes. In some ways, he’s a slightly lesser evil and in some ways he’s a slightly greater evil. It’s a wash in the end. The Bush bogey-man doesn’t scare me. It’s a tactic that pulls the Bush administration out of its historical context and it’s spewed by dishonest Democrats and self-serving leaders of pseudo-liberal interest groups. Bush may be an idiot, or at least an ignorant man with an Alfred E. Newman smirk. Kerry may be more sophisticated and somewhat smarter than Bush (although I doubt that he’s half as smart or knowledgeable as Nader). But, in the end, the real problem we face are Bush’s policies, not Bush the man. I don’t see any improvement if Bush’s policies are handed off to Kerry for his smoother style of administration. It might make Barbra Streisand or Jacques Chirac feel better, but it won’t help the rest of the world. A vote for Kerry is truly a vote for Bush’s policies. It’s illogical, delusional, and immature to think othe
rwise.

6. Various organizations opposed to Nader’s run have been running ads and broadcasting petitions to convince people such as yourself to vote for Kerry. What impact, if any, have these efforts had on your thinking?

None. On second thought, they do have one small impact: They lessen my respect for the persons involved in such stupid and pernicious activities.

7. Is there something those groups could tell you that would sway your vote?

No.

8. How have the efforts to keep Nader off the ballot affected your decision?

They’ve made me even more disgusted by the Democratic Party than I normally am. They’ve inspired me to send additional money to Nader’s campaign. They inspired my wife to commit her vote to Nader. Until my wife saw the Democratic dirty tricks on C-SPAN, with Professor Lawrence Tribe arguing against democracy before the Florida Supreme Court, she was thinking of voting for Kerry. That spectacle eliminated Kerry as a possibility for her.

9. Some of Nader’s allies from 2000 have said his candidacy this year is a strategic mistake. Do you agree? Explain.

No. Nader’s 2000 allies have a right to criticize Nader’s 2004 campaign, even when it makes them look stupid (e.g., Michael Moore begging for Nader’s withdrawal on TV or promoting an anti-war film for the benefit of a pro-war candidate). However, I disagree with them. It’s a poor reflection on themselves, not on Nader or his current supporters.

10. Let’s suppose that you and others vote Nader in a swing state, Kerry loses that state which he would have won if the Nader voters had backed him and that loss costs Kerry the election. What is your thinking about this outcome?

I won’t regret my vote for a minute. Will I feel sorry for John Kerry? No. For Bob Shrum? No. For Robert Rubin? No. For George Soros? No. For the Democratic Party hacks who want a job or an invite to a White House cocktail party? No. For the living-in-a-dreamworld yellow-dog-Democrats? No. Who am I supposed to feel sorry for? The American people? Sad to say, they’re going to be neglected, abused, and exploited whether Bush or Kerry wins. Neither party in the White House–or in Congress–will stand up for their needs, interests, and aspirations. The same goes for the common people in the rest of the world. They’re going to be at the mercy of the transnational corporations, American imperialists, and homegrown elites whether Bush wins or Kerry wins. Politics is a crooked game dominated by evil principles. That’s why candidates like Ralph Nader never win the White House and candidates like Russ Feingold or Ron Paul only rarely win seats on Capitol Hill. My one vote won’t change this poli
tical context, but at least I can be true to my conscience, abstain from endorsing the morally bankrupt system, and make a small symbolic statement on behalf of good things like truth, justice, peace, and democracy. That’s something.

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