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Progressives Take Over Capitol Hill

11:26 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

By David Swanson

The House Judiciary Committee has some new members: Conor Boylan, David Swanson, Andrea Miller, and Tim Carpenter of Progressive Democrats of America:


The impeachments start later this afternoon.

Kidding.  Mostly.

The truth is that PDA is using the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing room as headquarters today,  It was packed this morning with congress members, staffers, and activists.  We’re passing out posters for tomorrow’s rally too.


Now everybody is out lobbying on both sides of the hill for an end to wars, investment in jobs, and commitments not to cut, weaken, or privatize Social Security.

Download the lobby packet here and here.

The two co-chairs of Progressive Democrats of America’s Healthcare Not Warfare Caucus, Norman Solomon and Donna Smith, have written to members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus asking them to change their ways.
"Many PDA members–and millions of other progressives–were disheartened by the course of events with healthcare legislation," write Smith and Solomon. "We saw that most of the CPC threw down the gauntlets about minimally ‘robust’ reform, but later picked them up, acquiescing to corporate interests and White House pressure. Please, do not do that with Social Security. Please, do not do that with Medicare."
PDA’s letter also goes after CPC members for their weakness in opposing war funding and urges them to all cosponsor Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s H.R. 6045 which would restrict military spending on Afghanistan to paying for U.S. withdrawal.
A reception is planned with the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Raul Grijalva and Lynn Woolsey, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Barbara Lee, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Rep John Conyers, PDA Board Members Bill Fletcher, Jr and Medea Benjamin, and Co-Chair of Strengthen Social Security Nancy Altman.
The reception is October 1st, 4-5 p.m., at the Capitol Visitors Center.
The march on Washington planned for October 2nd and covered in Tuesday’s New York Times has added a demand for an immediate end to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and a transfer of funding from the war/military budget to jobs, housing, and green energy.

photos by Mike Hersh


100 Candidates and Organizations Say No to War $

6:51 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

100 Congressional Candidates and National Organizations Oppose War Spending No Matter What Lipstick Is Applied to It

Seventy-six congressional candidates and 24 national organizations are opposing any more funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, no matter what unrelated measures are packaged into the same bill, and no matter whether the bill appears likely to pass or not.  This position contrasts strongly with that of most incumbent congress members who "oppose" and "criticize" the wars.  The new Coalition Against War Spending is inviting more candidates, including all incumbents, and national organizations to join.  The 76 candidates who have already signed on are from 27 different states, and include 28 Greens, 21 Libertarians, 20 Democrats, 4 Independents, 1 Republican, 1 Socialist, and 1 Peace and Freedom Party member (and more may be added to the website by the time you read this).  Sixty-six are candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, and 10 for the Senate.  

The U.S. Senate passed $33.5 billion to escalate the war in Afghanistan last Thursday, and the House is likely to take up the same bill in some form following this week’s recess.

Members of the Coalition Against War Spending do not all agree with each other on many topics, including their reasons for opposing war spending.  But they all back this short statement:

"The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Americans over $1 trillion in direct costs, and over $3 trillion altogether.  At a time when our national debt exceeds $13 trillion, we can no longer afford these wars.  It’s time for Congress to reject any funding except to bring all our troops safely home."


Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives:
Ken Adler, AR-01, Batesville, Green | Statement
Nick Coons, AZ-05, Tempe/Scottsdale, Libertarian | Statement
Rebecca Schneider, AZ-06, Phoenix, Democrat
Richard Grayson, AZ-06, Apache Junction, Green | Statement
Carol Wolman, CA-01, northwest corner, Green
Clint Curtis CA-04, northeast corner, Democrat | Statement
Ben Emery CA-04, Nevada City, Green
Jeremy Cloward, CA-10, Pleasant Hill, Green | Statement
Mark Williams, CA-12, San Carlos, Libertarian
Mary V. Larkin, CA-17, Monterey, Libertarian | Statement
Les Marsden, CA-19, Yosemite/Mariposa, Democrat | Statement
Randall Weissbuch, CA-26, Arcadia, Libertarian
Richard R. Castaldo, CA-30, Peace and Freedom Party
Marcy Winograd, CA-36, Los Angeles, Democrat | Video
William Hedrick, CA-44, Riverside/San Clemente, Democrat
Ken Arnold, CA-46, Orange and L.A., Democrat | Statement
Mike Paster, CA-49, Fallbrook, Libertarian
Tracy Emblem, CA-50, San Diego, Democrat | Statement
Michael Benoit, CA-52, San Diego, Libertarian
Lisa Ann Green, CA-53, Venice, Green
Gary Swing, CO-01, Denver, Green | Statement
Jerell Klaver, CO-05, Manitou Springs, Libertarian | Statement
G. Scott Deshefy, CT-02, New London, Green
Doug Tudor, FL-12, Riverview et al, Democrat
Marleine Bastien, FL-17, North Miami, Democrat
Regina Thomas, GA-12, Savannah, Democrat
Matt Reichel, IL-05, Chicago, Green
Bill Scheurer, IL-08, Lindenhurst, Green / Independent
Rodger Jennings, IL-12, Alton, Green
Doug Marks, IL-14, Carpentersville, Libertarian | Statement
Sheldon Schafer, IL-18, Peoria, Green
John Wayne Cunningham, IN-08, Terre Haute, Libertarian | Statement
James E. "Jim" Holbert, KY-05, London, Democrat | Statement
Philip Dunkelbarger, MA-09, Westwood, Independent | Statement
Peter White, MA-10, Cape Cod, Independent
Charlie Shick, MI-03, Wyoming, Green
Anna Janek, MI-09, West Bloomfield, Republican
Diana Longrie, MN-04, Democrat | Statement
Michael Cavlan, MN-05, Minneapolis, Independent Progressive | Statement
Kevin Craig, MO-07, Springfield, Libertarian
William OBrien, MO-09, Mexico, Libertarian | Statement
Thomas Hill, NC-08, Fayetteville, Libertarian
Lon Cecil, NC-12, High Point, Libertarian
Anthony Gronowicz, NY-07, New York City, Green
Jonathan Tasini, NY-15, New York City, Democrat | Statement | Video
Emin Eddie Egriu, NY-28, Buffalo, Democrat
Chris Henry, OR-01, Portland, Green
Michael Meo, OR-03, Portland, Green | Statement
Ebert G. Beeman, PA-03, Lake Erie, Libertarian | Statement
Vernon Etzel, PA-05, Oil City, Libertarian
Ed Bortz, PA-14, Pittsburgh, Green | Statement
Jake Towne, PA-15, Nazareth, Independent | Statement
David Segal, RI-01, Democrat
Robert A. Dobbs, SC-01, Myrtle Beach, Green | Statement
Eric Schechter, TN-05, Nashville, Democrat
Christopher J. Claytor, TX-03, Plano, Libertarian | Statement
Steve Susman, TX-22, Houston, Libertarian | Statement
Martin Nitschke, TX-23, El Paso to San Antonio, Libertarian | Statement
John Jay Myers, TX-32, Dallas, Libertarian | Statement
Claudia Wright, UT-02, Salt Lake City, Democrat
Gail Parker, VA-01, Green
Ron Fisher, VA-08, Arlington, Independent Green/Progressive
David Gillis, VA-11, Green
Larry Kalb, WA-02, northwest corner, Democrat
Diana McGinness, WA-02, Bellingham, Democrat | Statement
Roy Olson, WA-09, Olympia, Green | Statement

Candidates for U.S. Senate:
Duane Roberts, CA, Green | Statement
Gail K Lightfoot, CA, Libertarian | Statement
John Finger, CO, Libertarian | Statement
Bob Kinsey, CO, Green | Statement
Richard A. Weir, NC, Green | Statement
Cecile Lawrence, NY, Green
Dan La Botz, OH, Socialist | Statement
Rick Staggenborg, OR, Green
Mel Packer, PA, Green | Statement
Ben Masel, WI, Democrat (2012)

Backbone Campaign
Campaign Corner: A Home for Progressive Populist Candidates | Statement
CODE PINK: Women for Peace
Consumers for Peace
The Democratic Activist
End US Wars
Global Exchange
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
Global Peace
Green Change | Statement
Jobs for Afghans | Statement
Justice Through Music
Liberty Tree
Military Families Speak Out
Peace Majority Report
Progressive Democrats of America
Progressive Push
Proposition One Campaign
Rethink Afghanistan
Velvet Revolution
Veterans For Peace
Voters For Peace
War Criminals Watch



NB: The candidates and organizations listed here are not endorsing each other, and many strongly disagree with each other on many issues. But all fully support the statement at the top.



I’m Down With Dennis

1:28 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Let me get this straight. The Senate will pass a public option if the House will. And the House will, because it already did. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t allow it. So the mortal enemy of public-option backers is . . . Dennis Kucinich.

Why? Because when Congressman Kucinich said he’d stand for a public option he stupidly thought he was supposed to mean it.

Let’s review a brief history of the disease known as "health insurance reform."

When the president and the speaker of the House thought it would be strategic to censor any talk of single-payer healthcare, almost every member of Congress and almost every astroturfing party-before-country activist group and labor union, and almost every follower of those groups, fell obediently into line. "We’ll open the debate with the least we’ll settle for, a pathetic token public-option," they thought cleverly, rubbing their hands together. "Then we’ll compromise down from there."

But after demanding the "public option," too many people refused to toss it overboard, and public pressure grew to keep it in. So 60 congress members signed a letter to the speaker last summer insisting that they would not settle for a health insurance bill that lacked a serious public option. When they were presented with a bill that did not meet their demands, almost all of them voted for it anyway.

Now 51 senators say they will pass a bill including a super-pathetic token public option of the sort passed by the House last summer, but Pelosi wants to pass a bill without anything even called a "public option" in it. Almost all of the congressional public-option stalwarts want to go along with the speaker and the president. And almost all of the astroturfing party-before-country activist groups want to fall obediently into line.

Meanwhile several states are moving single-payer healthcare bills through their legislatures, but they face likely lawsuits from insurance companies over conflicts with federal law if they try to actually get their residents healthcare. Senator Bernie Sanders is advertising the Senate bill as solving this problem, routinely failing to mention that his solution, if it is one, does not kick in for seven years. But an amendment passed in a House committee last summer would have clearly and unequivocally taken care of states’ concerns. The president told the speaker to strip that amendment out of the bill, and almost no members of Congress complained when she did so.

Where does Dennis Kucinich fit into this story? He’s the reason the word "almost" appears in it so many times. He didn’t open negotiations by proposing the lowest he’d accept. He pushed for a real single-payer solution. He single-handedly framed the public option as a compromise rather than a communist plot. Kucinich signed the letter committing to take a stand for at least a public option. But he made the mistake of thinking people actually wanted him to mean it. So he took that lonely stand. And he introduced and passed the amendment that would have allowed states to provide their residents with a serious healthcare solution.

Now, all the astroturfers applauded and encouraged taking a stand for a public option when there were 60 congress members pretending to do it, without apparently giving any thought to how greatly weakened progressives would be in Congress if they didn’t follow through. Did they think the chance that a bluff might work was worth damaging all future campaigns? Did they disbelieve all their own talk about how the bill would be worthless without the "public option." It’s hard to know. The so-called public option had shrunk to such a token gesture that it was always hard to know what good they imagined it would do if included. And today they talk about passing a bill without even that token included, and passing it "for political reasons," usually avoiding the question of whether the bill is actually better or worse than nothing.

But suppose that you honestly thought the public option was worth at least pretending to take a stand for, and now you no longer do, but you think the remaining bill does more good than harm. Why would you have no complaint with Pelosi who could put the "public option" back in and pass the bill? Why would you have no complaint with congress members who oppose the bill on the grounds that it protects abortion rights? Why would your complaints be focused on the one guy who stuck to what you used to want him to stick to? Could embarrassment be a factor here? Shame? Humiliation? Do you feel uneasy about asking that ever congress member be an obedient slave to the president? Do you sense that progressives would then be excluded entirely? Does it worry you that you’re protesting insurance companies in support of a bill that causes insurance companies’ stocks to rise?

Even the activist groups that have acted on principle throughout this ordeal have fallen short of Kucinich’s actions. Kucinich knew that real progress would come through the states, so he worked to pass an amendment permitting state single-payer. And virtually nobody backed him up. Activist groups either prattled on in a fog about national single-payer, or they focused exclusively on the so-called public option. These two camps wouldn’t talk to each other, but they both agreed on leaving states’ concerns by the wayside.

If, in stark contrast to what was done, labor unions and activist groups and progressive media had taken their agenda from their membership and brought it to Washington, rather than the reverse, then very quickly Kucinich would not have been alone in demanding single-payer, and the right-wingers would have soon been begging for a token public option as a compromise.

Healthcare is only one issue. There are dozens of stories like the one above, with different issues but the same characters and plot. When dozens of congress members commit to opposing war funding, Kucinich commits and then follows through. When it comes to ending the wars or impeaching the war criminals, Kucinich leads, in opposition to his political party but in support of his constituents, the American people, the rule of law, and the stated goals of progressives.

I hope self-loathing partisan sycophants realize that the corporate media will equally depict either passage or nonpassage of a "health insurance reform" bill as a defeat for Democrats. And, in this case, rightly so. But the long-term impact of a reform that doesn’t reform, one that rather compels Americans to pay their hard-earned money to institutions even more hated than Congress, namely health insurance companies — THAT would be the real political loser, with or without a privately run program for 3 percent of us called "the public option." And, again, rightly so. Kucinich is saving the Democrats from themselves by helping to block their health insurance bill, but they can’t see what’s in front of them through the fog of their constant dreaming about mountains of money and a naked Rahm Emanuel poking them in the chests.