Saturday, September 25, 2004


The Magnitude of the Failure is Stunning
America Will Disappoint the World, Again

America in November will disappoint the world. We will elect either a war criminal or one of the lawmakers who gave him the power to wage such an unlawful war (i.e. an accomplice). What we now know (and what was assumed by many at the time) about the intelligence employed to justify war in Iraq is staggering. According to Thomas Powers in the New York Review of Books, "It is unlikely that most Americans grasp the magnitude of the failure even now..."

Unfortunately, John Kerry the feeble and uninspiring leader of a party that continues to disappoint, has said little more on this matter than it being the "wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time." He has said nothing of the fact that it was an illegal war made possible by the current administration's use of what today passes as intelligence.

Is this a convincing approach? Does it mean that Kerry has plans for the right war in the right place at the right time? More important, why is he unwilling to challenge the president's use of prewar intelligence? As Powers puts it, "Not even the Democratic nominee for president, Senator John Kerry, seems ready to say plainly that this immense mistake--the bloody invasion of Iraq to end threats which have turned out to be entirely imaginary--must properly be tracked to the door of the White House."

Perhaps Kerry feels a tinge of guilt that he did not oppose the war when it meant something and that he failed to question the president's use of intelligence before the war.

In July, Kerry and Edwards were asked whether they would have voted for the war had they known what they now know about the intelligence used by the Bush administration on the eve of the war.

Mr. Edwards: "I"m not going to go back and answer hypothetical questions about what I would have done had I known this."

Mr. Kerry: "The vote is not today and that's it. I completely agree with John Edwards." (NY Times 11 July 2004)

It's nice having someone to agree with especially regarding questions of war, national security, and decisions that affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. In short, Kerry is unwilling to say he would have opposed an illegal war. This is nothing short of criminal.

Well, it is campaign season you might allege, and Kerry is worried about nothing more than getting elected. (However, if this is the case it seems he's not very concerned) So he must support the war at the same time critiquing it without appearing unpatriotic. He must show that he is capable of leading a nation at war (the right one, though) at the same time converting undecided voters unsure that invading Iraq was the right choice.

Why then refuse to condemn a commander in chief and his advisors for their misuse of intelligence?

Plainly, to do so is to oppose the war and the only people who seem to give a damn are the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who protested before the war began because they knew it was not only wrong but also illegal.

But they were ridiculed or used to demonstrate that democracy is flourishing in a country where people have the right to protest. This is why they hate us the president is fond of saying unable to step outside of his armored cavalcade in most European capitals.

The perversity of it all however is that the intelligence was unbelievable before it was "exposed" and reviewed by special committee. This makes the aforementioned question posed to Kerry and Edwards not as hypothetical as they would like it to be. I think this also explains why Americans might be slow in grasping the magnitude of the failure. They already have and they're comfortable with it. It's easier to believe in lies perhaps than nothing at all.

Adam Federman can be reached at:

Friday, September 24, 2004


Tigers Against Nader, Pussycats Against Bush.

How Democrats Fight
Tigers Against Nader, Pussycats Against Bush

Many frustrated progressive Democrats have been bemoaning the lack of aggressiveness of the Democratic Party and its presidential standard bearer John Kerry in this campaign. While Republicans in Florida and Michigan work to bar or scare off black voters, and smear Democratic candidates with vicious ad hominem attacks, lie blatantly and stoke voter fear of terrorism, the Democrats have largely campaigned as if it were all a gentleman's game of tennis.

For example, according to a report in the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, the Bush campaign filed its election documents with the secretary of state's office in Tallahassee a day late, thanks to the Republican Party's decision to hold its nominating convention so unprecedentedly late (and conveniently close to the 9/11 anniversary). Technically, that late filing should have prevented Bush's name from appearing on Florida ballots in November. But did Democrats seek to make the state follow the letter of the law? No. The Democratic Party, incredibly, gave Republicans a pass and failed to challenge them! (Just imagine what would have happened had Kerry's people filed their papers a day late)

Ironically, the one place the Democrats have played hardball is in seeking to block access to the ballot by independent candidate Ralph Nader--and not just in Florida. Here, the Democratic Party machine has pulled out all the stops, challenging signatures, hiring pricey attorneys, defending arcane anti-democratic rules, and even using deception on occasion, in at least one case sending its own volunteers to Nader volunteer sign-up events to prevent genuine volunteers from getting into meetings.

How can it be that the Democratic Party would be so capable of playing in the mud when it comes to Nader, yet so timid when it comes to battling the GOP?

The answer may be that besides posing a threat to Democratic hopes of victory in November, Nader also threatens the cabal of Democratic Leadership Council conservatives (Kerry among them) who have been controlling the party's dismal destiny of decline for over a decade.

A strong Nader showing this November, even if it did not derail Kerry's presidential hopes, would demonstrate that the party has been abandoning a key part of its base--the progressive wing that rejects the pro-corporate, pro-empire, pro-militarist stance of the party leadership.

For a party elite that has been trying desperately to cozy up to the big corporations that dominate the American economy and polity, this threat is far worse than just losing a presidential election.

At this point, I don't know where I stand on how to vote November 2, especially living as I do in the swing state of Pennsylvania. As disappointed in and suspicious of Kerry as I am, I suspect he would be far more susceptible to public pressure and dissent as president than Bush has been, and that he could be forced into ending the war and undoing some of the more dreadful domestic policies implemented by Bush over the past few years, but on the other hand, the Democratic Party will never be turned into a genuine alternative to the Republican corporatist ideology if progressives just keep voting for every corporate lackey that it puts up as its candidate for president.

What I am certain of though, is that any effort to deny voters the chance to vote for a viable alternative viewpoint such as that offered by Ralph Nader is profoundly undemocratic and ought to be condemned.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can't be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at

He can be reached at:


Young, progressive voters who still believe they have some obligation to support Kerry/Edwards, even despite their pro-war, pro-patriot act, anti-democracy stances, may find this article from the Muslims for Nader/Camejo blog of interest...

The "anybody but bush, or nobody but kerry" candidate is in trouble, the polls are showing he is behind Bush (in more ways than one :-)) - some progressives are abandoing their own cause to get behind the guy who is behind Bush.

Joshua Frank writes in Counterpunch:

As the left sinks deeper in its own self-created muck, don't look for the stalwarts of progressive action, like Benjamin and Solomon, to pull us out. Indeed they are working hard to keep us down by campaigning for Kerry in the only states that can force the Democrats to deal with progressive issues. It is sad indeed when members of your own team forfeit the game at crunch time. Nevertheless, it is not entirely their faults -- they unfortunately have fallen victim to the very fear they are now spreading. It's contagious. Watch out.

Those of us who are involved in this movement understand that Bush is part of the problem, but to assume that he is the Great Evil - is to mirror the fear mongering that both the Democrats and Republicans are creating to keep progressives under their control. It is unfortuante that some progressives have fallen for this kind of faulty reasoning, and are now campaigning for a guy who even Michael Moore has called a "lousy candidate."

Thursday, September 23, 2004


It certainly pays to be a corporate criminal these days—so many different ways to inflict misery and suffering on the public at large, while at the same time serving your craven lust for the accumulation of wealth! Sure, you're a criminal, but it's not as if the Department of Justice is breathing down your neck. Luckily for you, the FBI doesn't take the trouble to collect data on "suite" crime like they do for "street" crime. The DoJ's corporate crime division is so under-funded that it's unlikely they'll ever get around to you, unless you really slip up. Should things spiral out of control and a couple of plainclothes federal agents appear on your porch, rest assured that you'll have the wherewithal to retain the choicest legal counsel. Worst case scenario, you spend a little time in a minimum-security facility, catching up on all the reading you meant to do while you were ruining the lives of unsuspecting consumers, employees, and shareholders. After all, you're a white-collar criminal in a country that's run by corporate white-collar money.

Of course, the outlook's not as rosy if you're among the Americans currently trapped in the underbelly of the US criminal in-justice system—in which "three strikes" legislation runs rampant, and the threat of illegal search and seizure, harassment, and detainment without due process looms large for the poor and minorities. Two million men and women, whose numbers are increasing in lockstep with the expansion of the prison-industrial complex, constitute the largest prison population among industrialized nations and one-quarter of the world's prisoners. Nader/Camejo 2004 supports the achievement of a criminal justice system with impartial, humane standards.

The label criminal , as it is reserved for use by the mainstream media and the courts, has ceased to be synonymous with the concept of justice. The Nader/Camejo campaign wants to see more corporate criminals brought to account for their crimes, as they are sadly under-represented in the American prison population. This is no accident—corporate criminals have long been in the practice of papering government walls with money, for the purpose of currying favor with legislators and regulatory bodies. The fruits of their labor can be seen on the front pages with frightening regularity, whether in the form of another corporate swindle or the invasion of a sovereign nation for the oily satisfaction of corporate interests. The trend must be reversed by a galvanized effort from informed citizens—no one should be fooled into believing that either major-party candidate is capable of lifting a finger in the service of such an effort.

Check Ralph Nader's 12 Steps to Cracking Down on Corporate Crime for more information.


Twelvers are groups of citizens working to get this country back on track. Corporate interests drive the Republican and Democratic parties, not the interests of the people. To get the country back on the right road, the people have to take the wheel. Within every community there are active citizens, willing to work for better government. This program brings them together and shifts the power back to the people.

Definition of a Twelver:

1.Innovative political reform unit having twelve members;
2. An individual member of the unit.
Origin: Nader for President Campaign, 2004.

Purpose: Twelvers work together for political reform. When organized, people shift the power. The Nader for President campaign and the Twelver movement work to shift power out of corporate hands and back into the hands of the people.

Yesterday, in a conference call with Ralph Nader and many Campus Coordinators, Ralph urged the building of twelvers on American Campuses. To do so on your campus, check out:

As a twelver of students you all take election day off from any thing you can (Classes, work) go to the polls and vote together, and then go for dinner or beer and watch as the election results come back in. It is a great way to initiate political movement and discussion in our politically anemic culture.

Adress all questions to

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


A Message to Young Voters (and Non-Voters)
"The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently."
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
In this year's presidential race, it seems the American voting public has been infected by a deep and malignant cynicism. Voters are not making their choices based on what the candidate's beliefs are, but instead what the candidate's beliefs are not. Rather than voting their consciences, voters have resorted to settling for the lesser evil in a choice between two corporate-controlled puppets.

As a young person, I had hoped that this cynicism had not yet affected the idealism of my peers. I assumed that, true to the stereotype of youth, my peers would remain skeptical of the adult establishment. I reasoned that young people are naturally questioning and rebellious, much more willing than their parents to abandon the system and try something new. Young Americans, I thought, would not accept the two party duopoly on politics. Young people instinctively realize when they are being lied to, and I assumed that they would see right through two corporate-funded frat boys claiming to represent their interests. Sure, it's traditional to have a rich white man from an established party leading the country, but I thought that young people had no respect for tradition.

Shockingly, the youthful rebellion of many young Americans seems to have failed them. I have stood appalled as time after time my peers have numbly pitched to me the standard lines, fed to them by the media and their parents, attacking Ralph Nader's candidacy. This is despite the fact that Ralph Nader has consistently taken positions supported by the majority of young Americans.

These positions include:
Opposing the Iraq war and occupation
Proposing universal healthcare for all Americans
Opposing the draft
Advocating for the reform of the criminal injustice system and the end of the war on drugs
Opposing the use of high-stakes standardized testing as a measure of student achievement
Maintaining commitment to affirmative action
On the basis of their passion about these issues, young people should no longer be willing to fall in line with the older generations in their continued support of America's corrupt two-party system. This system, gorged with corporate money and played as a game by America's elite, is fundamentally flawed. Voters have allowed elections to become two-way rat races and have ignored the fact that in the end it's still a corporate-controlled candidate who becomes president of the United States. Giant corporations continually work to align the policies of both mainstream candidates with their interests. Without the pressure of a third party, there is nothing holding these politicians accountable to the desires of the American people. If today's youth want the opportunity to vote for a candidate who truly represents their beliefs, they have to start working now to give those candidates the opportunity to run. Unfortunately, young people seem to be making little effort in this election to challenge the established two-party system and the limited choices it creates.

Perhaps young people's disinterest in taking on the two party system is due to a general lack of optimism. Many young people seem to have resigned themselves to the fact that politicians are a class unto themselves, unresponsive to the needs of the greater public. Indeed, there seems to be a rather pervasive lack of optimism among young people. Rather than espousing ambitious goals of world peace or the eradication of AIDS, I find many of my peers sharing their comparatively under-whelming goal of getting Bush out of office. While it is perhaps possible to forgive the older generation for being shortsighted and unambitious in their goals for this election, America's youth must realize that their future depends on their present efforts to make change. "Nader can't win" is an irrelevant argument for young people-- our lives will extend beyond this election, and if we limit our expectations so early, there is no hope for a future that allows us more choices of who will lead our country.

Instead of resigning ourselves to the reality of the current system, young Americans must take the qualities that young people are known for--rebelliousness, skepticism, and optimism-- and apply them to politics. We must abandon our parents' cynicism and unwavering faith in the way things are, and instead create a vision for the way things could be. We must seek to make America a true democracy that represents the people and has the best leader possible, not just the least worst.


Kayty Himmelstein
D.C. Office Intern

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Link of the Day:

While it is easy to believe that the rich CEO's of major companies like Coke-a-Cola are not participating in immoral, inhumane acts such as murder, a closer look at the facts will devastate confidence in the American Corporation. Young people, especially, need to be concerned about the injustices waged by giant American businesses.

Killer Coke's Casualties

Listed below are union leaders at Coca-Cola's Colombian bottling plants who have been murdered. Hundreds of other Coke workers have been tortured, kidnapped and/or illegally detained by violent paramilitaries, often working closely with plant managements.

Date Name Coca-Cola Plant
1989 Avelino Chicanoy Pasto
4/8/94 Jose Elaseasar MancoDavid Carepa
4/20/94 Luis Enrique Giraldo Arango Carepa
4/23/95 Luis Enrique Gomez Garado Carepa
12/5/96 Isidro Segundo Gil Carepa
12/26/96 Jose Librado Herrera Osorio Carepa
6/21/01 Oscar Dario Soto Polo Monteria
8/31/02 Adolfo de Jesus Munera Lopez Baranquilla

In memory of those union leaders murdered by Coka-a-Cola, I suggest all American Students visit and study

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


News Analysis, by Ann Bassette,

I can’t really imagine myself holding onto some fat gun, ready and waiting to shoot and kill for a war that I know barely anything about. I sit in class and try to picture the type of scenarios I could be in if I were ever to be drafted – huddled in a tent wearing desert camouflage, hearing mortar blasts outside. I try to see my friends in the same situations and can’t help but freak out. Lately, with all the talk of the draft these unbelievable scenarios seem a lot closer to reality.

Let me tell you what’s going on right now. There are two bills, HR.163 and S.89, that are trying make joining the military a requirement. This is what it says on about these bills: ‘[These bills] provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.’
I would have thought that the draft might be a partisan issue, with the Republicans behind the whole thing, but that’s not true. The bills are supported by Democrats too, who are pushing for equality in the draft – saying they want to make sure it would include anyone between the ages 18-26, regardless of race or class. Somehow, I doubt that it would ever work out to be an equal lottery. Including women is a new exception this time around. I can’t really see the Olsen twins or Jessica Simpson being drafted, there has to be some way to avoid it—most likely hella money.

It’s not like the draft hasn’t happened before, which makes me think that it could happen again. In 1917, the “Selective Service Act” was enacted to get men for WW I, then it was used for WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam. Before the war in Iraq, all I knew about war was what I’d seen in movies like Jacob’s Ladder, this trippy-ass movie where this Vietnam vet has all these flashbacks of the gory battles he was in. I really don’t want to be forced to be a part of a war that I am morally against.

When I talk to other young people about the draft being reinstated, I get mixed reactions. Either people aren’t aware of the two bills that are trying to be passed right now to bring the draft back, they believe that the draft will never happen, or they think it is inevitable with the way our America works, therefore I should probably get my passport ASAP.

Tim Benton, 22, believes that the draft won’t be necessary. “There are too many troops that are still at home, so the draft won’t be reinstated.”

Jenny Maka, 23, says “It should be obvious that not many people believe in the war because nobody is signing up to fight for it even though they’re providing lip service that supports it. If it meant so much to Congress, the president and the whole bunch, they should send their own kids instead of other peoples’.”

People won’t be able to escape to Canada or Mexico because they already signed treaties with the U.S. to close down the boarders if the draft is reinstated, which may happen in Spring 2005. I feel like I’m being plotted against, and the only real way out of it for me would be pregnancy and that may not even save me. The draft age doesn’t end until age 26, so they have a lot of years that they can try to ship me out. People want to say that women won’t be put on the frontlines, but women used to not be included in the draft either.

The whole thing seems to be a big secret that involves my body, but not my vote. I heard that Bush supports it. Kerry has to come up with 40,000 new troops in order to prevent it. Nader is the only presidential candidate that openly opposes the cause, yet I don’t know if anyone is listening anymore.

Does it mean it will really happen? I’m not sure, but I know that I don’t want my 21-year-old butt taken out of school and shipped off to some country that I can barely pronounce, much less spell. Really, who is to say that the draft CAN’T happen? I suppose it pays to be aware of what bills are being discussed right now, even though it does sound hella boring to research, it could be your own life on the line.
Ann, 21, is a Senior Content Producer for YO!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Nader Adresses Student Issues in Cleveland

Yesterday, I had a brief chance to meet with Ralph Nader and ask him a few questions. These are issues ignored by Bush and Kerry.

Q. Should college tuition be free?
A. Yes, that should be the goal: to make state college free to all Americans. To do this we have to do something about the bloated military budget. 140 Billion dollars for a missile program that this country's leading physicists say will never work is outragous. That money should be used to allow all students to go to state college free.

Q. Will the Iraq War become as bas as Vietnam?
A. Yes, unless John Kerry makes some drastic changes in his position. There is one difference between Iraq and Vietnam, and that is the way the press is handling it. In Vietnam they did not have all the coverage everytime a soldier died. The draft will come back the way things are going, unless the public opinions against the war get to that 68 or 70 percent range. Then, even George Bush will pull out of Iraq; he won't let his party suffer for one war. But unless that happens, Iraq will become as bad, if not worse, than Vietnam.

Q. What issues should students be concerned about in this election?
A. Young people should be concerned about the soaring costs of tuition, about the disappearing job market, about the drug war that criminalizes addiction, and about environmental issues that affect the planet they and their children will live on.


TALLAHASSEE - After the Florida election fiasco of 2000, the most obscure parts of state election law keep attracting attention.
The latest effort to disqualify Ralph Nader as a presidential candidate in Florida has led to renewed scrutiny of papers filed by other candidates - including President Bush.

State law sets a Sept. 1 deadline for the governor to certify a list of presidential electors for each party's candidates.
But Sept. 1 was also the day President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were being nominated at their party' convention in New York. Consequently, some of their paperwork did not arrive at state elections headquarters until Sept. 2, a day after Gov. Jeb Bush certified the candidates for president.

Paperwork problem?

No, says Secretary of State Glenda Hood's office.

Spokeswoman Jenny Nash said Friday the law is clear: The deadline applies to the governor and the list of presidential electors, not to the candidates themselves. The list of Republican electors released by Hood's office does not show a time stamp indicating when the document was received by the state.

Democrats said they aren't so sure, but they won't challenge the Bush campaign's papers.

Florida Democratic Party chairman Scott Maddox said he knew the president's certificate of nomination did not reach the state until Sept. 2, but he said he decided not to make an issue of it.

"To keep an incumbent president off the ballot in a swing state the size of Florida because of a technicality, I just don't think would be right," Maddox said.

Nader's Reform Party candidacy in Florida is much different, Maddox said.
"There is no Reform Party. It is a sham. And Ralph Nader was using a hoax party to gain access to the ballot," Maddox said.

But Julia Aires, a Green Party activist from Sarasota who has watched Democrats and others battle to keep Nader's name off the ballot, said a minor party probably could not have gotten away with the same thing.

"If the Green Party or the Reform Party had not gotten their names in by Sept. 1 and they said, "You missed the deadline,' I don't think we'd have a leg to stand on," she said. "They would have kept us off the ballot on a technicality if they could have."
Circuit Judge P. Kevin Davey in Tallahassee agreed with the Democrats and others who had filed suit seeking to keep Nader off the ballot. Davey ordered the state to keep Nader's name off the ballot, though his order applies only to about 50,000 overseas absentee ballots set to go in the mail next week.

The judge ruled that the Reform Party "fails in almost every conceivable criteria of what constitutes a national party."

Nader, running mate Peter Camejo and the Reform Party filed an appeal of that decision Friday, asking the First District Court of Appeal to suspend Davey's order pending a full review of the case.

In their complaint, they said neither Nader nor Camejo had an attorney present in
court during a six-hour hearing Wednesday.

Democratic candidate John Kerry's paperwork was time-stamped at the state elections office on Aug. 2, days after his party's convention and nearly a month before the Sept. 1 deadline.


Beyond Democrats and Republicans
Third Party Blues

Since 1856, every U.S. president has been the candidate of either the Democratic or Republican Party. Despite their differences, these two parties share a fundamental stake in promoting the interests of big business and the economic, political and military dominance of the U.S. over the rest of the world.

Together, the Democrats and Republicans control both Houses of Congress and, since the end of the Second World War, have shared an average of 95 percent of the popular vote each election year.

Between them, the two ruling parties closely safeguard their shared control of the political system, forcing third-party candidates to gather the signatures of tens of thousands of registered voters to appear on state ballots, denying funding for third-party campaigns while offering millions of taxpayer dollars to the Democratic and Republican candidates, and locking independent candidates out of the presidential debates.

For this reason, "kick the bum out" is the most radical form of political expression on offer to voters in any typical election--only to be replaced by the "bum" from the other ruling-class party. No wonder more than half of the adult population stays home on Election Day.

This two-party duopoly is generally regarded as an inescapable fact of life, even among some of its harshest critics, while efforts to build social democratic or labor parties that exist elsewhere in the industrialized world--even Canada--are dismissed as doomed to failure.

Some on the left believe that the U.S.'s unique system of voting, the Electoral College, prevents the possibility of any genuine reform. The lack of democracy inherent in the Electoral College system allowed George W. Bush to gain the White House after losing the popular vote to Al Gore.

"[T]he current system," wrote liberal columnist Katha Pollitt in the Nation recently, "will never change, because the small states would have to approve a constitutional amendment and why would they do that?--Kansas matters, and Kansans care about values." Left-wing labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein argues in his recent book, State of the Union: A Century of American Labor, that no labor party has ever developed in the U.S. "because the distinctive federalism of the U.S. electoral system fatally penalizes those political/organizational gambits that stray too far beyond the two-party straightjacket."

On this basis, he concludes, "[L]abor must function as an independent, and sometimes as a disloyal, component of the Democratic Party Coalition, at least until a reassessment of its political options can take place." This has been the self-defeating motto of the U.S. left and labor union leadership for more than a century now, which has ensnared both in the trap of Democratic Party politics and effectively prevented the formation of a viable third-party alternative.

LESSER-EVILISM IS a self-fulfilling prophecy in which the U.S. left has consistently aided and abetted the Democratic Party in selling its candidates, while sabotaging efforts to build a genuine alternative. There is nothing unique about the "Anybody But Bush" (ABB) left in 2004, despite claims that the Bush administration represents a growing "fascist" threat that requires the left's single-minded dedication to its defeat in the coming election.

The "fascist" label has been pinned on nearly every conservative Republican candidate since Herbert Hoover in 1932--including Barry Goldwater in 1964, Richard Nixon in 1968, Ronald Reagan in both 1980 and '84 and even Bush Sr. in 1992. Last year, Ted Glick, the National Coordinator of the Independent Progressive Politics Network declared, without apparent irony, an election year goal of "replacing Bush with a Democrat (since we're not yet strong or organized enough to replace him with a Green or an independent)."

But the ABB chorus that has busied itself denouncing independent candidate Ralph Nader as a "spoiler" in this election year is just the latest in a long list of self-described political "independents" over the last century who have ended up inside the Democratic Party. Entire movements have collapsed in this manner--from the Populist Party of the 1890s to the 1960s movements for civil rights and women's and gay liberation.

But history shows this outcome was far from necessary. Eugene Debs garnered nearly a million votes--roughly 6 percent of the total--when he ran on the Socialist Party ticket in 1912. The same year, the Socialist Party candidate for president of the American Federation of Labor won a third of the vote.

The Great Depression of the 1930s marked the greatest era of class struggle in U.S. history, with a mass radicalization among U.S. workers in which tens of thousands joined the Communist Party. A 1937 Gallup poll showed that at least 21 percent of the population supported the formation of a national farmer-labor party as an alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties.

This sentiment was even more pronounced inside the unions that led the sit-down strikes that shook the country and built the industrial union movement in the mid-1930s. At the1935 United Auto Workers (UAW) convention, delegates voted overwhelmingly to "actively support and give assistance to the formation of a National Farmer Labor Party."

Significantly, UAW delegates voted down a resolution supporting Roosevelt for president in the 1936 election. This vote was reversed only after the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO) leadership threatened to withdraw all funding for the UAW to organize the auto industry unless the convention agreed to support Roosevelt.

Union leaders even created a pseudo-labor party, the American Labor Party, to help channel votes toward Roosevelt in 1936 among New York's garment workers who refused to vote Democrat. The Communist Party itself helped secure Roosevelt's re-election that year, and by 1938, party publications abandoned the idea of forming a third political party in the U.S., arguing for "operating insofar as electoral activity is concerned, chiefly through the Democratic Party."

* * *

THE EXPERIENCE of the 1930s era of class struggle provides the most important lessons of the disastrous consequences of supporting the Democratic Party. Perhaps the most disastrous effect of Democratic Party politics on the U.S. left is that it allows the left's collective memory to stretch no further back than the last election, so political lessons such as those from the 1930s have been lost on current generations.

The left cannot build a third-party between election years, but must embark on a long-term project whose success or failure can be measured not simply in terms of ballots, but on whether the party advances and strengthens a political alternative based on working-class interests.

Nor should a third-party effort accept the legitimacy of the Electoral College, for it can only succeed by ultimately shifting the balance of forces away from the dominance of the two ruling-class parties. There is nothing fundamentally different about the U.S. political system that should make this project impossible.

Nor is there a fatal flaw in the political character of the U.S. population that makes Americans too "apathetic" or too "content" to fight for an alternative, as so many assume. As recently as 1995, a Gallup poll found that 62 percent of the U.S. public favored the formation of a third-party alternative. Even in 2004, according to Gallup, 38 percent of Americans consider themselves "independents"--more than the 34 percent who regard themselves as Democrats and the 28 percent who say they are Republicans.

Unfortunately, by latching itself to the coattails of the Democratic Party, the U.S. left has followed the Democrats rightward as they chase after the votes of "swing voters." Even many of those on the left, including the Green Party, whose principled support of Nader helped make a third-party alternative seem within reach in 2000, have succumbed to the pressure to support pro-war, neoliberal John Kerry--simply because he is a Democrat--in 2004.

The ABB left in this election year just provides more evidence that the Democratic Party is the graveyard of social movements.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

9/11 Plus Three

by Mark Dunlea

(Mark Dunlea is the author of Madame President: The Unauthorized Biography of the First Green President, which imagines what would have happened if a Green was president on 9/11.

I drove to New York City for a friend's wedding the Saturday after September 11.

I stared in disbelief at the smoke rising from the ashes of the World Trade Center as I crossed the George Washington bridge.

I am still haunted by the images of people hurtling to their deaths, flying down the outside of the Tower to escape some worse fate inside. From watching the towers slowly ride their way into the ground over and over again, killing at that point an unknown thousands of individuals.

I was struck by how normal things seemed that Saturday just a few miles north of Ground Zero, as people rollerbladed and carried their NY Times past the makeshift memorials in front of loved one's apartments. It is amazing how some people were able to so quickly recover, to move on with their lives.

To follow President Bush's suggestion that we go shopping at the malls while he took care of things.

I was not one of them.

The daily pain has receded after three years. The anger has not.

Much of my anger comes from the manipulation of 9/11 by politicians and the media while both groups refuse to seek the truth to 9/11.

I am mad that 9/11 became an excuse to unleash American military forces in pursuit of a global American empire in support of corporate globalization, rather than as an opportunity to strengthen the rule of international law and promote a different vision of the world, one dedicated to peace and justice.

I am mad that the dark forces within the Bush administration used 9/11 to increase their power while the Democrats stood and cheered.

I am mad that so little effort has been made to hold accountable those who helped kill so many innocent people on 9/11.

A poll released by Zogby International last week found that half of New York City resident - and more than 40% statewide - believed that the Bush administration knew about the 9/11 terrorist threats beforehand but failed to take action to prevent it.

The real question is not whether the Bush administration allowed 9/11 to happen, but why? Was it criminal negligence? Stupidity?

We know that the neoconservatives in the national security team around Cheney and Rumsfeld were looking for another Pearl Harbor to provide an excuse to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. Did they seriously underestimate how much damage a terrorist attack in America by al-Qaida could accomplish?

I understand why President Bush has done every thing he can to prevent a true, independent, nonpartisan investigation into 9/11. He only agreed to the bipartisan cursory examination of 9/11 because of the relentless moral pressure from the family members of the victims. Even then he had the gall to appoint Henry Kissinger as the Chair of the Commission. Kissinger had presided over America's own 9/11 terrorist attack, the killing of Presidential Allende and his government thirty years previously.

I guess that the Democrats think it is more important to preserve the foreign policy apparatus than to force Bush to come clean on 9/11. It seems that their foreign policy disagreements with Bush isn't over creating a global America empire, it has to do with how to consult Europe and Japan. The commissioners that finally were chosen were all career members of the foreign policy establishment who fulfilled their mission of avoiding the tough questions

One question that the Commission in their final report said was unimportant was who actually paid for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Their rationale was that since al Qaida is so well funded - largely from the wealth of Saudi Arabia's ruling clan - it made little difference who actually paid the bill for 9/11. I thought about this as I watched Governor Pataki hold a press conference to condemn two Albany Muslims as "terrorists" - for allegedly participating in a money laundering scheme initiated by the FBI. I wondered why Pataki and the media weren't asking about the money laundering scheme for 9/11? For instance, why did the Pakistani Intelligence Service wire $100,000 to Mohammed Atta, the "lead" hijacker? Why create fake terrorist schemes when we know so little about the real one? Where is the 9/11 hijackers support network?

A recent AP story said that Pataki often does three media events a week highlighting 9/11. Why has he never demanded to know who killed 3,000 people in NYC three years ago? He loves to attack local prosecutors when they decline to pursue the death penalty. Why doesn't he attack the failure of the Manhattan District Attorney to prosecute the 9/11 case? Why hasn't he put together a New York State committee to investigate 9/11?

Some hope that the courts will finally help uncover the truth about 9/11. Last week, the financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald who lost more than 300 employees in the World Trade Center murders sued the Saudi Arabia government for billions for their role in 9/11. At least one other such lawsuit has been filed by other family members. But can they find judges that will be willing to stand up to Bush and Congress?

The other big mystery of 9/11 is why does the American media not pursue the truth? The media banged the drums for war loudly on 9/11 and the following days. Perhaps they felt it was their patriotic duty but it was chilling to witness. The American media has repeatedly refused to pursue obvious lines of questioning about 9/11. There are a few exceptions of course - most notably Amy Goodman and Jim Ridgeway. The easiest answer is the increasing corporate ownership of the media, starting with companies that are part of the military-industrial complex, like GE and Westinghouse which own two of the major national networks. But I sense the answer goes deeper. Perhaps they are afraid of the answers - or what the pursuit of the truth will do to their careers. The treatment of late night talk show host Bill Maher after his 9/11 comments sent a strong warning.

The Bush administration was recently forced to rewrite their annual report to admit that terrorism has increased in the world, not decreased. And it is clear that Bush diverted forces from pursuing al Qaeda and other terrorists in order to invade Iraq to increase American control of the world's dwindling oil supplies.

The war on terrorism has been a disaster. And the dangers of such a war is shown in the recent horrific murders of hundreds of children, teachers and parents in Russia. These murders and callous disregard of life were the unfortunate but easily foreseen byproduct of a decade of Russian bombing into obliteration of their opponents in Chechnya. Russia and Chechnya are our future under Bush. Ruthless behavior only prompts one's opponent to more war and violence, as the ties to civilized behavior are destroyed on all sides.

It is not too late for America to follow a different response to 9/11. The American people can still demand that their leaders use 9/11 as opportunity to create a world based on our best values, not our worse ones - greed, fear and lying.

The first step is to demand the truth about 9/11.

Another George Bush Lie: Doctors Spread the Love

For those missed Ralph Nader's recently posted question for Bush, here it is again:
Mr. President: you have based your demand on Congress to restrict the rights of wrongfully injured Americans to have their full day in court on two assertions:

1. Frivolous law suits
2. Good doctors leaving their practices because of these frivolous law suits
Please give us your evidence regarding the extent of frivolous lawsuits and the inability of state judges to dismiss them. Also, supply us with information about good physicians leaving practice due to frivolous lawsuits rather than gouging medical malpractice insurance premiums?

I would propose that Students For Nader has found an answer to Mr. Nader's question.
This report comes from yesterdays AP story:

President Bush misdiagnosed the reason Dr. Mike Ditmore abandoned his medical practice in Missouri.

"He's a doc. He's a neurosurgeon," Bush told cheering supporters in Columbia, Mo., while campaigning by bus last week. "He was, until his premiums went up to $108,000 a year. The lawsuits drove him out of business."

Not exactly. Ditmore has been sued — eight times in more than two decades, by his count, but seven lawsuits were dismissed before trial without financial settlements and the eighth ended with him found not liable after trial.

"I was not run out of business by lawsuits. I decided to retire because of the jump in my insurance premium, and there's not a direct correlation with lawsuits against me," Ditmore said after the president's visit.

Ditmore, 60, said malpractice insurance cost him about $60,000 last year and was set to nearly double even if he took on fewer cases as he looked toward retirement. He left medicine — and then decided to run for a seat in the Missouri Senate after a friend left the race unexpectedly.

When Bush campaigned in Missouri on Wednesday, he reiterated his criticism of "junk lawsuits" and declared to applause that "Dr. Ditmore is so upset about medical liability reform and other issues, he's running for the state Senate to do something about it."

Not exactly. Ditmore said he has other key issues, including stabilizing education funding, but said Bush put the local race's spotlight on medical malpractice.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

John Kerry Likes The Patriot Act

Kerry would keep 95% of the Patriot Act, and stregnthen the rest!

The Patriot Act is considered by civil rights groups a violation of the US constitution. But the Patriot Act did not begin with Bush/Ashcroft, infact the groundwork was laid by the Democratic administration of Bill Clinton - this was the 1996 antiterrorism bill that included the secret evidence rule.

Kerry not only voted for the Bush Patriot Act, he also voted for the Clinton Act - and, as the ACLU has pointed out:

Virtually every recent secret evidence case that has come to public attention involves a Muslim or an Arab.

The ACLU document includes examples of how innocent Muslims and Arabs were kept in solitary confinement for years.

There is some talk amongst civil libertarians that Kerry will allow some “provisions to sunset.” But this is totally contrary to Kerry’s own campaign literature (pdf) that states:KEEP 95 PERCENT OF PROVISIONS. Kerry supports and would retain over 95% of the approximately 140 provisions in the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act gave law enforcement some important new tools after 9/11, and John Kerry believes we must keep over 95 percent of the provisions. And the 5%? Well, these deal with library record searches, and “real proof” before doing sneak and peek searches (the literature does not talk about court orders being required before these searches, only "real proof")! But Kerry would not allow these provisions to "sunset" rather, he would "stregnthen them"we should preserve over 95 percent of the Act and make improvements on the rest to strengthen the war on terrorism. The CRITICAL issue of concern for Muslims and Arabs with regards to the Patriot act is that people can be jailed on mere suspicion, denied readmission to the US - if they’ve engaged in free speech. And “suspects” can be detained indefinitely, again, on mere suspicion. These provisions of the Patriot Act are not going to be allowed to sunset under Kerry. It is interesting to note that this particular piece was made in response to the Republicans charging that Kerry is soft - so, he comes out with a Me Too statement - I’m as tough as you guys, only tougher!

The Nader/Camejo campaign has an excellent policy statement titled Civil Rights for Muslims and Arabs and includes:Passage of the End Racial Profiling Act, championed by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. in the House and Senator Russell Feingold in the Senate, that would dissuade law enforcement from engaging in profiling by requiring collection of race data, and providing legal options to victims of racial profiling. ANDOppose the extension of provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act that are set to expire in 2005.Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo are the ones calling for the Patriot Act to sunset - NOT Kerry!

Friday, September 10, 2004


Let us quote you a passage from an email we received this morning, written by Mary Beth Cahill, John Kerry’s campaign manager.

“…make no mistake, George Bush is a skilled debater. In fact, he has never lost a debate in his entire political career.”


Apparently the Democrats are engaging in a novel debate strategy, which is to prepare their supporters for the eventuality that John Kerry is an underdog debater! George W. Bush—a skilled debater?—beat Al Gore all three times?

We at Nader/Camejo 2004 aren’t surprised by this decision, which seems to be in line with their overall strategy of flat-footed campaigning. Central to this runner-up's approach is a blatant disregard for registering minority voters, such as 9 million unregistered African-Americans. It is getting more and more difficult to find examples of a winning strategy on the part of John Kerry’s campaign.

Unlike the Democratic Party, which has grown accustomed to losing over the last ten years at the local, state and national levels and therefore has stopped doing what is necessary to win, the Nader/Camejo Campaign will never relent in our struggle for peace, justice, and politics in the public interest.

The Presidential debates are a sham, more like parallel interviews, and highly exclusionary. That is no reason to inflate the debating skills of the cue-card reliant George W. Bush.

Kevin Zeese

Thursday, September 09, 2004


Once again, American's are being told that they are not worth greatness. Although we are drilled to believe America is the best nation in the world, neither of the major Presidential Candidates is willing to stand up to this claim. Let's consider an obvious case: Health care.
George W. Bush says that health care is a commodity, a priviledge; something for the rich. Being part of the best country in history apparently does not mean you're going to better off than anyone in, say, Canada.
John Kerry is saying that health care is the right of all but 14 million people. His "universal health care" is anything but universal; by his own admission, it leaves out 14 million people. Who cares? They are only the poorest 14 million anyways. And they probably do not vote.

The USA currently spends 1000 dollars more per capita for health care than Canada (more than any other nation in the world, in fact), and yet produces less efficient care and does not cover everybody. If we moved to a single-payed system, keeping even the same amount of money we use now for health care, we could surely produce the best health care for everyone, regardless of income or employment.

And thanks to Physicians For a Universal Health Care, we now see that For-profit hospitals are more costly to taxpayers than non-profit hospitals.

For-Profit Hospitals are Costlier Than Non-Profits

For-Profit Hospitals are Costlier Than Non-Profits, Study Finds
Evidence Against For-Profit Health Care Now Conclusive

Investor-owned hospitals have 19% higher charges than non-profit hospitals, according to a study appearing today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The study, the most comprehensive analysis comparing for-profit and non-profit facilities, was carried out by a highly respected team of physicians and statisticians at McMaster University led by Dr. PJ Devereaux. That team had previously reported that investor-owned hospitals have 2% higher death rates. The researchers, though based in Canada, used data from U.S. hospitals, since for-profits are rare in Canada. The possible introduction of for-profit hospitals is expected to be a campaign issue in upcoming Canadian elections.

In an accompanying editorial, Drs. Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein of Harvard Medical School calculate that converting all investor-owned hospitals (13 percent of U.S. hospitals) to non-profit ownership could have saved $6 billion of the $37 billion spent on care at investor-owned hospitals in 2001.

“Investor-owned hospitals charge outrageous prices for inferior care.” said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler. “That’s not just an opinion, it’s now a proven fact. The for-profits skimp on nurses, but spend lavishly on their executives and paper-pushers.” Previous research by Drs. Woolhandler and Himmelstetin, based on financial filings by virtually all U.S. hospitals, found that administration accounted for 24.5% of total costs at non-profit hospitals vs. 34% at for-profits, while payroll costs for clinical personnel were 7 percentage points higher at non-profits.

Dr. Woolhandler also noted that: “Previous studies have shown a consistent pattern - investor-ownership compromises care and raises costs. For-profit dialysis clinics have higher death rates. For-profit nursing homes deliver lower quality care. For profit hospices give dying patients less care. For-profit rehab facilities cost Medicare more. And for profit HMOs deliver poor quality care and have extraordinarily high overhead costs. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office has concluded that HMOs actually increases Medicare costs by at least $2 billion each year – and President Bush and the Republicans in Congress just handed them an extra $46 billion in the Medicare drug billDr. Himmelstein, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard commented: “For-profit hospitals milk the system for legal, but outrageous payments for executives and shareholders. And they also routinely bilk the system through fraud. Columbia/HCA – the largest hospital firm - paid a $1.7 billion settlement for overbilling Medicare last year. Tenet – the second largest - paid a half a billion dollars to settle fraud and abuse charges in the 1980’s (when the firm was known as NME) and is under investigation again for massive billing fraud, and performing hundreds of unnecessary heart operations. And HealthSouth – which dominates the rehab hospital market – just admitted to $3.4 billion in fraudulent accounting. In each case, the CEO who presided over the fraud was forced out. But only after Columbia/HCA’s got $324 million, Tenet’s received $111 million, and HealthSouth’s pocketed $112 million. In health care, crime pays handsomely.”

The researchers at McMaster are considered leading experts on research methodology. The team of 20 researchers reviewed 788 medical articles on hospital care, eventually honing in on the 8 highest quality and most relevant studies – which included a total of 350,000 patients and a median of 324 hospitals in each study. They contacted the original authors to verify the findings, then used advanced statistical techniques to combine the 8 studies. Of the 8 studies, only one showed that for-profits had lower costs. However, all of the non-profit hospitals included in this study were managed by a for-profit firm – in other words, both groups of hospitals in the study were under for-profit management.

“We can no longer afford to leave health care to the marketplace” said Dr. Quentin Young, National Coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program. “This study demonstrates the marvelous opportunities for improved health services when the U.S. adopts a national health insurance system (single-payer) based on traditional not-for-profit care.”

“The High Costs of For-Profit Care” Steffie Woolhandler and David U. Himmelstein. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 1814-1815, June 8, 2004.

“Payments for Care at Private For-Profit and Private Not-for-Profit Hospitals: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis” P.J. Devereaux et al, Canadian Medical Association Journal, 1817-1824, June 8, 2004.

A bibliography of references on the negative impact of investor-ownership on health care is also available.


Physicians for a National Health Program ( is an organization of 12,000 physicians advocating for non-profit national health insurance. PNHP has chapters and spokespeople across the country. For contacts, call (312) 782-6006.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


While George Bush continues to tell us a minimum wage is stupid, and while John Kerry continues to pretend that anyone, let alone tuition-stricken college students, can live on an anemic seven dollars an hour, we do well to examine some of the myths & facts about a living wage.

Thanks to some new light can be shed on this all-important issue to America's students.

Myth: "Teenagers and young adults will be hurt by the increase."
FACT: According to The Sky Hasn't Fallen, a study by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC, reporting the results of the most recent Federal minimum wage increase from $4.25 to $5.15 per hour, it was clearly shown that these workers were not adversely affected by the increase.

Myth: "The typical minimum wage worker is a teenager working at a fast food restaurant who lives at home with parents."
FACT: According to the study The Sky Hasn't Fallen and the study, Americans Well Targeted Raise, both produced by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC, those "typical" minimum wage workers (teenagers) account for only 7% of the total minimum wage work force. About two-thirds of minimum wage workers are over 20 years old; about two-thirds are women and about two-thirds do not live with their parents. The report confirms that 40% of them are the sole source of income in their households.

George Bush has, once again resorted to the protection of his corporate interests in spite of the needs of millions of Americans. He has pretended that a living wage simply isn't compatible with conservativism. Perhaps he would learn a lesson from Richard Nixon, his Republican Predecessor, who raised minimum wage to the highest it has ever been, inflaion-adjusted.

John Kerry is making every half attempt he can at wooing Nader voters without accidentally offending his own corporate interests. He hopes to deceive Nader voters into believing his 7 dollar an hour plan is satifactory. He does not tell us that if minimum wage of 1968 were inflation adjusted, today it would be nearly 8.75 an hour. He does not tell us that many living wage advocacy groups believe that minimum wage should be at least over nine dollars an hour, just to meet federal poverty levels.

In Washington, telling people the facts is a dangerous business.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


AP- Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader crashed the Republicans' party Tuesday, dropping by Madison Square Garden just hours before the convention's evening session was to begin.

"I like to observe corporate orgies," Nader told The Associated Press. "I'm trying to undermine the Republican party in my own modest way."

Nader, who was at the convention to do an interview with CNN, said the network got him into the building. He reserved most of his ire for Republicans, describing as a camouflage the moderate speakers the party is showcasing.

"They're pushing the conservatives off the stage because they have a lot to explain to conservatives," he said, ticking off issues like "massive deficits" and "federal regulation of local schools."

Nader didn't spare the Democrats. He said he was at the convention to "provide a framework of criticism" that he said "the Democrats have taken a vacation from this week."

Later Tuesday, in a speech at Columbia University, Nader accused Democrats of engaging in "dirty tricks and intimidation" to keep him off the ballot in battleground states and said they were heading for a "mini Watergate."

"It's out of control and they're going to get caught," he said.

Nader was pleased though to have won a place on the ballot in Florida despite opposition from the Democrats. Florida election officials accepted Tuesday an application from the Reform Party to place Nader on the state's ballot, where four years ago his candidacy is widely believed to have cost Democrat Al Gore the presidency.

The Reform Party had endorsed Nader in May but waited until one day before the deadline to submit the application formally.

Democrats believe Gore would have carried Florida in 2000, and thus have won the presidency, had Nader not been on the ballot as a Green Party candidate. President Bush won Florida by 537 votes after five weeks of recounts that the Supreme Court ended by ruling against Gore. Nader received 97,421 votes, most of which Democrats say would have gone to Gore.

The Florida Democratic Party has promised to scrutinize Nader's ballot application for a possible challenge.

Nader also secured a place Tuesday on the ballots in Connecticut and Wyoming, but failed to win a spot in Massachusetts after state officials ruled he did not collect enough signatures and had defects in his paperwork.

So far, Nader is officially on the ballot in 13 states and Washington, D.C., and can appear on at least five others through his Reform Party endorsement. He has submitted petitions to be on the ballot in at least 15 other states, but has met with resistance from legal challenges filed by Democrats to keep him off ballots.

Democrats already have shut Nader off the ballot in several states, including Arizona, Missouri, Maryland, Illinois and Pennsylvania, by uncovering irregularities in his petitions. Still, Nader is on track to appear on ballots in many of the battleground states where President Bush and Kerry are actively campaigning.

In his speech Tuesday night, Nader dismissed concerns that his campaign will siphon off votes from Kerry. "We're giving him plenty of water, but we can't make him drink," Nader said. "If he looked at our web site, he'd find ways to get more votes."