WASHINGTON, DC — The Green Party of the United States responded to President Obama’s Oval Office address to the nation on Tuesday, August 31, with a call for Americans who oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to press for a complete withdrawal of US forces from both countries and a halt to attacks inside Pakistan’s borders.
“When President Obama says we’re turning the page, we’re really moving to the next page of war without end. It would be a mistake for Americans who desire peace to let the President off the hook after Tuesday’s speech,” said Anthony Gronowicz, New York Green candidate for the US House, 7th Congressional District (Bronx/Queens, New York) and a member of the Green Party’s International Committee (http://www.gp.org/committees/intl).
Green Party leaders listed reasons for renewed protest against the Obama Administration’s military policies:
WASHINGTON, DC — Green Party leaders expressed puzzlement and outrage over the decision to award President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, and urged widespread demonstrations against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to take place in Oslo, Washington, and other cities on the day Mr. Obama picks up his prize in Oslo.
“The chief difference between President Obama and President Bush on war policy is one of salesmanship. The international cooperation that the Nobel Committee praises means only that Mr. Obama has had more success in selling aggressive war policies — maintaining the Afghanistan and Iraq occupations, with plans to increase troop levels in Afghanistan,” said Jody Grage, treasurer of the Green Party of the United States (and a Norwegian-American).
“We hope that those who support the Nobel Committee’s decision and are proud of President Obama will join antiwar protests and urge Mr. Obama to honor the Peace Prize by ending the occupations,” Ms. Grage added.
In a message today, the Reverend Billy Talen, who is running for Mayor of New York City on the Green Party line, had this to say about Barack Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize:
Now we have to change all our words around.
I never thought of Peace as a word that was moveable. All our words have been shifted by Consumerism and Militarism. Democracy is gone, America and Freedom are gone. Peace always stayed there in one place.
Peace patiently waited for us to notice the best things about ourselves. Peace always stayed with us. Peace was ignored by the governments and the powerful but it was still there – the monument that is made of the sky and the wind, our memories of a face and our loving touch. But now we have to change our words around. They have taken the word Peace and we’ll have to make up a new word, a secret signal.
Predator drones will be released tonight destroying the word we always depended on. The flying bomb will go out over the villages, sailing over the sleeping children and prayers and friends stopping for a laugh. The bombs will float and hesitate and change direction from computers in Florida and Missouri and the soldiers at the computers will know that Obama has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. And so they will be consumers of a war that is now being marketed as a product named Peace.
So – it has come to this. War has finally captured Peace.
From Green Change:
This morning, President Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” the Nobel Committee said.
Did Obama bring peace to Iraq?
No. He has retained 124,000 U.S. troops there, with tens of thousands deployed perhaps indefinitely.
Did he bring peace to Afghanistan?
No. He has escalated the Afghan war, and is part responsible for the scores of civilian deaths that have occurred there. He has done this despite that most Americans believe that the war is “not worth fighting.”
Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Nobel committee said in an interview that “Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics.” Has Obama done anything singular to stop the worldwide crisis of climate change?
No. He has spent little or no political capital on the climate crisis, and still refuses to commit the U.S. to strong actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And there are widespread reports that he is trying to weaken the Copenhagen global climate treaty.
Jagland said that “The Nobel Committee has in particular looked at Obama’s vision and work toward a world without atomic weapons.” But on this issue, Obama is merely implementing the ideas of the more conservative foreign policy minds of our nation, including Henry Kissinger.
Did he beat the swords of the giant U.S. defense budget into plowshares of peace?
No. In fact, he will soon sign into law the largest defense bill in our nation’s history.
Has he brought home the troops scattered across the world stationed to maintain our empire?
No. We still have an estimated 1,000 military bases in foreign lands worldwide.
Has he stopped our nation’s scandalous weapons trade?
No. The U.S. has expanded its weapons trade. We now supply 2/3rds of the world’s foreign armaments.
Did Obama sign the cluster munitions treaty to ban cluster bombs, because 98% of cluster bomb casualties are children?
No. The U.S. has not signed the cluster munitions treaty.
Has Obama brought home the army of mercenaries we have stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan?
No. He has expanded the ranks of these mercenaries to 250,000.
There are millions of people across our world who spend their blood and sweat every day for peace — real peace. Every one of them deserves the Nobel Peace Prize far more than Barack Obama.
When government agencies release a report on a Friday, you know that there’s someone who’s hoping that news about the report will get lost in the weekend news cycle and be forgotten by Monday. When that government report is released on a Friday evening in the middle of the summer, it’s a sign of something particularly embarrassing.
That’s just what happened with the release of an inspectors general report about the use of Big Brother spying techniques by the White House against law-abiding Americans within the borders of the USA. There’s a lot to cover from this report, but here are some highlights:
– The Bush Administration was engaging in much more surveillance against Americans than has been revealed so far. The report calls this spying “extraordinary and inappropriate”, but the inspectors general won’t reveal to the public just what it involved.
– Top officials concluded that the Big Brother spying wasn’t actually very effective in protecting Americans against terrorism.
– Congress was not informed of the spying as required by law.
That last point is extremely important because of two other factors:
– Much of the warrantless spying against Americans continues under President Barack Obama
– The story expanded last night with leaked information that Vice President Dick Cheney himself was directing intelligence agencies to keep information about spying secret from the U.S. Congress.
What makes this a Green Party issue? For one thing, the Green Party is opposed to government secrecy and violations of Americans constitutional rights. On a political level, the Green Party can be strongly differentiated from the Democrats and the Republicans, as both of these political parties are involved in the cover-up of government surveillance programs against the American people.
Not only has the Democratic-led Congress failed to conduct any meaningful inquiry into the illegal spying, but last year, many Democrats, including then-Senator Barack Obama, joined the Republicans in passing the FISA Amendments Act, a law that legalized massive electronic surveillance of our private communications and provided retroactive immunity to telecommunications corporations who helped George W. Bush with his spying programs. Furthermore, President Obama has opposed efforts by the Electronic Frontier Foundation to reveal the extent of electronic spying against Americans.
Last month, in order to start to control the abuse, a small number of Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee introduced a measure into an appropriations bill that would increase the number of members of Congress who would have to be informed of CIA spying activities. Almost immediately, President Obama announced that he was opposed to the measure, and would veto any legislation that included such requirements for increased oversight.
How did the House Democrats react? They backed down, saying that they’ll work with the White House to cripple to oversight provision.
At the very time that it’s becoming clear that the Republicans’ illegally kept secrets about government spying from Congress, Obama and the congressional Democrats are working to make sure that the secrecy continues. The Democrats aren’t repairing the Republicans’ attacks against the Constitution – they’re continuing them. It’s going to take another political party with true progressive values to undo the damage.
One of the most common arguments against the Green Party comes from within the Democratic Party, in the form of the plea that activist energy ought to be focused on reforming the Democrats from within, rather than challenging them from without. The Democratic Party is a powerful organization, it’s said, and if progressive reformers could take over the party, they could change it and create a great deal of positive change.
I’m familiar with this argument, because I used to make it myself. During my time on the New York State Democratic Committee, I would write earnestly to Greens, urging them to join the Democratic Party, to reform it from within. Obviously, I’ve given up on that idea since.
The main problem that progressives encounter within the Democratic Party is a tremendous pressure to conform, to promote the Party in general, and not to speak out when its politicians support antiprogressive policies, with the idea that if the Democrats could just gain control over government, the Democrats would shake off their temporary concessions, and a progressive agenda would finally benefit.
In 2009, we finally have a federal government that is solidly Democratic. So, we can fairly evaluate now whether the strategy of working within the Democratic Party to reform it can work. We can ask, how progressive are the progressive Democrats?
I ask this question in the context of a growing crisis of secrecy and dishonesty from the Obama Administration on the issue of torture. Earlier this year, President Obama argued that he has the right to suppress lawsuits by people who have been tortured as a result of the U.S. government’s practice of extraordinary rendition. Then, Obama insisted upon violating the Freedom of Information Act in order to keep photographic evidence of torture by the military a secret. Last week, the Obama Administration informed Congress that it opposed legislation to prevent torture by requiring the videotaping of of military interrogations.
Yesterday, Obama added to his protection of torture secrets by delaying the release of a CIA memo that purportedly demonstrates that the intelligence agency informed the Bush White House that its use of torture was profoundly illegal. The Obama White House promised to release the memo yesterday, and people waited, and waited, but the memo never came. This is the third Obama postponement of the memo’s release. These delays are taking place, the Obama Administration says, so that officials have the chance to keep portions of the memo redacted – blacked out.
Why, if the Obama Administration truly opposes torture, is it so consistently working to keep America in the dark about the extent of government torture? Where, if the Democratic Party has any progressive potential at all, are the progressive Democrats?
There is a group of Democratic politicians in Congress who are willing to call themselves progressives. They’re called the Progressive Caucus. There isn’t a single Democrat in the Senate that’s willing to join the caucus, although independent Senator Bernard Sanders from Vermont is a member of the group. In the House of Representatives, there are 75 members of the Progressive Caucus. The Clerk of the House lists 255 Democrats in the House. That makes just 29 percent of Democrats in the House who are willing to organize in the name of progressive reform.
That number is just a count of House Democrats who are willing to even go by the name of “progressive”. The number who are actually willing to reliably act to promote progressive reform is even smaller.
This brings us back to Barack Obama’s repeated delays of the release the CIA torture memo. Given the President’s refusal to let the public know the truth about the crimes of the Bush Administration, it’s up to Congress act. Early this year, Congressman John Conyers introduced H.R. 104, a bill that would establish a “national commission on presidential war powers and civil liberties”, investigating the unconstitutional activities of the Bush Administration, identifying particular crimes for the purpose of prosecution. This commission would have subpoena powers to demand documents like the CIA torture memo currently being withheld by the Obama White House.
Unfortunately, H.R. 104 has been buried by the House Democratic leadership. It’s been sitting in the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties for months – and the Progressive Caucus hasn’t been much help in getting the legislation out of committee. Only 34 out of the 75 members of the caucus have gone to the relatively small trouble of cosponsoring H.R. 104. That’s just 45 percent of the caucus, which is just 29 percent of the Democratic membership of the House.
With the Presidency and Legislative Branch firmly in hand, 2009 is the time when the promises of progressive reform of the Democratic Party is most likely to be fulfilled. Yet, we can see that the group that’s supposed to contain the most progressive members of Congress can’t get the majority of its members to support an investigation of the crimes against the Constitution that took place under George W. Bush. Even Lynn Woolsey, one of the chairs of the Progressive Caucus, hasn’t added her cosponsorship.
This remarkable inaction is a clear sign that the Democratic Party isn’t going to be reformed from within. There are some progressives within the Democratic Party who mean well, but the overwhelming majority of Democrats are either not progressive, or have been co-opted by the Democratic leadership’s campaign of promises that it never intends to keep.
If you want progressive action from a politician, don’t vote for a Democrat. Vote for the Green Party candidate whenever you can.
Alan Augustson, a Green Party activist and candidate for Congress from Illinois, published an interesting piece at his Face Book page in which he explains why the Obama administration is not taking the US down a socialist path. The content of the piece can be found by clicking this article’s headline. The text at Face Book can be found here.
In a press release issued April 29th, the Green Party of the United States called for a full investigation of Bush era officials who provided justification for torture. The press release calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor, and says that any attempt by the Obama Whitehouse to limit the investigation will be an obstruction of justice. The full content of the press release can be found by clicking the “Read more” link or this article’s headline. Continue Reading
The continued political priority of Bush-Obama-McCain to maintain expansion continues a modern legacy of the political leaders in the Democratic and Republican Parties to circumvent the real checks and balances within the economy.
Those people who are panicky now and shaking at the prospect of having the bailout rejected should realize that the structure of the US economy has significantly changed. The presumption that this is a sound economy fails to recognize the great gap in income. It disregards the inability of American people to have health care that is less expensive than $700 billion. It ignores that the inflated housing prices have closed any opportunity for millions to own homes. It disregards the lack of government investment and the subsequent degrading of public infrastructure, such as public education and health, mass transportation, resource management and energy.
The economic extortion from Wall Street “Pay Us, or We Kill the Economy” to maintain continued growth disregards the necessity for periodic crises. Things do not just become better and better and better. There is a point where taking adrenaline for a deadly virus becomes self-defeating. To restructure the economy at this point takes political action that is not just based on maintaining the current presumptions of political leaders. As someone who recognizes the dynamism of the market system, I still recognize the basic law of economic gravity- what goes up, must come down.
Obama is heavily promoting the bailout and will NOT demonstrate the leadership needed to address the economy. As a Green, there is no better time to advocate for a transition of the economy away from globalization towards decentralization. Now is precisely the time to invest in a new renewable energy infrastructure that will cost less than $700 billion.
There is no clearer indicator of Obama’s intentions than his support for the bailout. Clinton2 will be no more of a change than Clinton1 was. Start looking at the role of the Fed. Greenspan was there during both Democratic and Republican Congresses from 1987 to 2006. “In 2004 Business Week Magazine and others criticized his keeping of low interest levels too long and his concurrent praise of sub-prime lending vehicles such as ARMs as leading to a housing bubble.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Greenspan
As Obama, McCain and the bi-Partisan Commission on presidential debates play Matador and Bull about the upcoming slate of fall debates, support for real, democratic multi-party debates are coming from some unlikely sources, albeit with differing motives.
Chris Bowers, co-founder of prominent Dem blogs MyDD & OpenLeft, is pushing Obama to have demand at least one 5-way debate including Barr, McKinney and Nader. His reading of the poll tea leaves tells him that the collective 3rd party pull of the Libertarian and Green candidates, as well as the Nader campaign, is a net drag on McCain, and that Obama has nothing to lose, even if McCain were to decline, and Obama were to debate Barr, McKinney & Nader.