Police riot against protesters in Miami

November 25, 2003 at 12:45 pm
Contributed by:

—–Original Message—–
Here is the story you’re not getting in the paper about what’s been going on in Miami in the name of patriotism – extreme police and military aggression against peaceful protesters exercising true democracy. I hope you will share this news with many people, so that the media’s lies of omission and misrepresentation can be displaced.
____________________

Hi all–below is my report from yesterday in Miami and some breaking news from today, and below that, our appeal for help and solidarity. Please pass it along–right this moment our friends are in jail, facing brutality and torture, and we need your help! Thanks, Starhawk

Miami 11/21/03 Bitter Beauty

A strange and hard day. We are all in a bit of shock after yesterday. The Pagan cluster meets for an emotional debrief, very stressed because time is short and we are committed to taking part in the Really, Really Free Market action at noon. We have so much to say and so much emotion to share, grief and rage and shock, but yesterday’s police attacks. Many people in the cluster are new and have not ever experienced anything like it. Some of us have, and each new incident stirs up an old well of grief and anger.

We rush off to the Really, Really Free Market-the action to show the alternatives. The delegates have ended their meetings a day early, signed a surface agreement that means little and gone home, so there is no need for confrontation. Nevertheless police have been following us all day, picking people off, arresting people peacefully walking on sidewalks. They grab a couple of kids coming out of the convergence center and crush their bicycles. They harrass a vanful of radical cheerleaders coming to the Really, Really Free Market.

The Really, Really Free Market is a beautiful oasis in the midst of a brutal police state. We negotiate with a group of homeless women who hang out in the park we have a permit for, and set up our ‘booths’-blankets on the ground. There is a Free Massage booth, free food from Food Not Bombs, free Medical care from our medics. The Pagans set up our Living River to decorate the fences. We set up a healing tent for free trauma counseling, and another healing circle inside swath’s of magically dyed blue cloth. We pull out the masks for the Witches’ and Anarchists’ Ball that we never got to hold because of yesterday’s police riots, and the paper fish and turtle hats that never quite got to the march. We give away fairy money, little slips of decorated paper you give to your friends for things you value, like a smile, or a hug, or for courage under fire. On the back you write what you gave it for, so that as each bill flows around it accumulates a story. Soon the market has all the lively feel of a true village market, but with a sweetness that comes from constant little gifts we are making to each other, all the more poignant because of the constant reports of arrests that keep coming in. The street people join in the fun-I look over and see the four women who live here each wearing a fish hat, and the baby in her stroller laughing in delight.

We end with a spiral dance, people holding the blue cloth over their heads and twining in and out as we sing and chant “We are sweet water, we are the seed, we are the storm wind to blow away greed. We are the new world we bring to birth, the river rising to reclaim the earth.” And “Fortress walls, crumbling down, Witches healing dancing, spiralling around.” And finally, “Brothers and sisters, go in peace, charges dropped, all released.” We are laughing and joyful, but as we are singing, over at the jail vigil a few blocks away the police declaire an illegal assembly. They tell people to get on the sidewalk and they’ll be safe. Then they surround the group on the sidewalk, beat people to the ground, kneel on their spines and arrest them.

Sobered, we go back to the convergence center to secure it, and pull together a debrief meeting. It’s hard to debrief at this moment, when shit is still happening, I say, but it’s a part of our resistance, a way of saying that our movement is strong and will continue and will grow.

In the middle of the debrief, a friend comes up and tells me that Abby and her friends have been badly beaten up, jumped by cops on their way home to their hotel, her sweet, lovely face pushed into the pavement.. “We could kill you here,” the cops tell them.

I am really shaken. During the break I go off into the field and lay my head in Ruby’s lap and just sob. She asks me what I am seeing and I really can’t even say-I feel like I’m staring hard into the dark heart of cruelty and seeing more bad things headed our way. Two other dear young women, friends of mine, have been arrested and they are immigrants and I’m afraid of what will happen to them. And I really, really hate this. I hate beautiful young girls getting beaten up by the cops. I hate fearing for the lives and freedom of amazing women just because they happened to be born across a border. I hate the sneering, sly media lies and I hate the constant constant barrage of one awful thing after another directed against these exuberant, loving young warriors. I can’t cry enough, I can’t yell or scream or wail enough or beat enough barrels or smash enough furniture to release either the pain or the rage.

But I pull myself together and go back in to the meeting, where we decide on our strategy of political pressure and organize our jail support. At the end of the night, a young blond woman and a long-haired man are having a sword fight with leftover cardboard tubes. They are whacking each other and playing and laughing. Others join in, whirling with their swords and feinting at each other. The harder they hit, the more they laugh. Another cadre dashes in from outside, swords drawn, yelling a battle cry, and a mock war breaks out. It’s play therapy, I think, re-enacting the beatings we’ve suffered, transforming them into play and laughter and joy. And that is the strength of the movement, a power ultimately stronger, I believe, than anything they can do to us.

11/22 The School of the Americas

I wake up early, catch a plane to Georgia, get driven to the School of the Americas protest to shut down the institute that trains torturers and murderers for Latin America. I have promised to speak, and I speak about the connections-that the SOA trains torturers to enforce the global economic system we are fighting at the FTAA, which can only be sustained by police and military power, as we’ve seen in Miami. Today is the rally, very calm and peaceful except for the military music blasted from the base to try and drown out the rally.

The news from Miami comes in through the day, bad and worse. Our friends are being tortured in jail. We hear about a young Latino man, taken out and brutally beaten, pepper sprayed and not allowed to wash. They are being kept in cages with no toilets, forced to pee and shit on the floor, then hosed down under the pretence of cleaning the cages. The young anarchists of color are being especially targeted. I am sick with worry for a few friends in particular, and for any immigrants that might be among the group, subject to deportation or disappearance. We hear rumors of sexual assault.

Lisa tells me we need money, cash on the ground in Miami, for bail and for all the expenses of the defense. The SOA organizers let me go back up onstage to make another announcement. I ask the crowd for help. I am asking you, readers, for help, too. All the relevant information is below. This week we have seen a blatant and ugly form of repression reveal itself. We have been targeted and attacked, not for anything we’ve done but for who we are and what we stand for. Yet I hear no one suggesting we stop, or give up-only thoughtful consideration of how we support each other and move forward, for we all know that if we don’t, we will live with the boot in the face and the nightstick at the skull in unrelieved, grim, despair. But if we only stand together, in solidarity and love, we can withstand anything they throw at us. We are one movement, a movement of life, putting down roots and unfurling leaves, and we can and must continue to grow. This week we have seen the possibility of love unfolding in hostile soil. Help us nurture that love and keep it alive.

Daily updates are posted at www.starhawk.org and www.utne.com.

www.starhawk.org

Starhawk is an activist, organizer, and author of Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising and eight other books on feminism, politics and earth-based spirituality. She teaches Earth Activist Trainings that combine permaculture design and activist skills, and works with the RANT trainer’s collective, www.rantcollective.org that offers training and support for mobilizations around global justice and peace issues. To get her periodic posts of her writings, email Starhawk-subscribe@lists.riseup.net and put ‘subscribe’ in the subject heading. If you’re on that list and don’t want any more of these writings, email Starhawk-unsubscribe@lists.riseup.net and put ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject heading.

*** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.***

Please Post Widely

Urgent Call to Action: FTAA Protesters Brutalized in Miami!

This week thousands of protestors came to Miami to oppose the FTAA. The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas is an international trade agreement that aims to extend corporate control throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Prior to the mass action there was a calculated campaign on the part of the police to intimidate and harass protestors. One officer characterized this campaign by saying “You can beat the rap, but not the ride”.

As we feared, our protests were met by a massive show of state repression, backed by $8.5 million in US Government funding. Miami Police Commissioner John Timoney oversaw a massive, paramilitary assault on our constitutional and human rights

Protestors were attacked by police wielding batons, tear gas, pepper spray, rubber, wooden, and plastic bullets and other chemical agents. Over 100 protestors were treated for injuries; 12 were hospitalized. Police dispersed large groups of peaceful protestors with tear gas, pepper spray and open fire. Small groups leaving the protests were harassed, arrested and beaten. This campaign of fear and intimidation culminated in the closure and militarization of downtown Miami. There were confirmed reports of military tanks patrolling the streets after dark on Thursday night.

Our legal team estimates more than 250 arrests. People have become political prisoners and are being held in jail. More than 50 of them were arrested while holding a peaceful vigil outside the jail in solidarity with those inside. They were surrounded by riot police and ordered to disperse. As they did, police opened fire and blocked the streets preventing many from leaving.

We are now receiving reports from people being released or calling from jail that there is excessive brutality, sexual assault and torture going on inside. People of color, Queer and transgender prisoners are particularly being targeted. There is a confirmed report of one Latino man arrested along with 62 others outside Miami-Dade County Jail Friday, who is currently hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit for an injury he received after being beaten in the head with night stick by an arresting officer.

People have also been denied access to attorneys, visitation rights, vegetarian or vegan food, and access to essential medication and medical attention.

We call on people from around the globe to take action immediately to support our sisters and brothers who are being unfairly arrested and brutalized. We are calling for three immediate actions:

1) Call, fax, email elected officials with the demands listed below. Contact information below.

2) Money is urgently needed to get people out of jail. They are making everyone post between $100 – $5000 I in bail. We are working with bail bondsmen, but this is not enough. Send money to cover legal and jail-support expenses including: bail, getting people rides back home and other legal costs. Please send money to: United for Peace and Justice. Online donations are possible at www.unitedforpeace.org/ftaadonate You can also mail a check or money order to: United for Peace and Justice/FTAA Fund P.O. Box 607, Times Square Station, New York, NY 10108. Please specify Legal Fund in the memo field:

3) Global Day of Action on Monday at any time and any appropriate location. This could be US Embassies, Departments of Justice or FBI offices

THESE ARE OUR DEMANDS:

*

Drop all charges.

*

Release all political prisoners.

*

Meet basic human needs: no more brutality, provide appropriate food, access to medicine and medical attention, warm clothing.

*

Provide access to attorneys and visitation rights.

*

Provide equitable treatment to all prisoners.

*

Do not share information collected with the INS.

*

Fire Chief Timoney

Many thanks for your support. It is urgently needed.

In solidarity,

Direct Action Contingency, Miami

To send a free fax:

http://www.citizen.org/fax/background.cfm?ID=245&source=19

PLEASE CALL AND WRITE:

MANUEL A. DIAZ, Mayor, City of Miami

305.250.5300

305.375.5071

mayor@miamidade.gov OR mannydiaz@ci.miami.fl.us

ALEX PENELAS, Mayor, Miami-Dade County

305.829.9336 home

305.375.5071 office

Chief of Staff: Francois Illas Fillas@ci.miami.fl.us

KATHERINE FERNANDEZ RUNDLE

State Attorney

305.547.0100

JOHN TIMONEY

Chief of Police

305-673-7925

305-579-6565


When we build walls and borders from fear and hate and gun
The hatred turns around and strikes at everyone
But when we stand strong together and let love and joy its will
Misfortune can’t defeat us, it makes us stronger still
– Dan Bern, “Oklahoma”

The Credibility Chasm

November 25, 2003 at 12:42 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

Demonstrating the
ever-widening gap between reality and rhetoric, President Bush yesterday said
that we “put the Taliban out of business forever,” a day after evidence surfaced
that the Taliban is growing stronger. http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1307348&l=10031

Before we invaded Afghanistan, a
lot of people predicted that by invading and deposing the Taliban, we would do
little more than lay waste to that already wasted country, and cause its heroin
production to skyrocket. Those people were rudely criticized and denounced. They
were absolutely right.

Before we invaded Iraq, a lot of people–myself
included–predicted that we would not find weapons of mass destruction, that we
would never bring democracy or stability to the Middle East by invading Iraq,
and that in fact we would cut off the head of Saddam (only metaphorically,
unfortunately) only to watch it sprout a hydra of anti-American terrorists and
suicide bombers, in a place where they hardly even existed before thanks to the
iron fist of Saddam. As Bush’s team continued to spin the roulette wheel of
justifications and rationales, I said in one of my posts that it seemed like
they were just floating balloons to see if anything would stick, including the
claims about WMD. And so it was, precisely.
We were abused,
roundly criticized, called “unpatriotic,” and assured that Iraqis would welcome
us with open arms and call us liberators. Guess what–we were completely
correct.


“We had no coherent plan or coordinated strategy for post-war
Iraq,” a former senior CIA official told UPI. Instead there were “rosy
misassumptions, wishful thinking, ideological blindness.”
http://www.menafn.com/qn_news_story.asp?StoryId=Cp72B0eidAxjHCs1ICMvTzxi


But that doesn’t matter. In fact, no amount of
factual evidence seems to matter in the face of the Bush team’s juggernaut of
lies, distortions, and propaganda. We’re still unpatriotic, and they still
haven’t made an error in their lives.


Are any of the Bush hawks going to learn their
lesson, or pay for their errors? Will the media make them own up to this
reality? No. The media is a compliant lap-dog, existing for no
other reason than to swallow the Bush team’s propaganda whole, and help them to
manufacture consent for their ideological agenda. The media doesn’t even attempt
to call him on it anymore, for fear they’ll be shut out of future propaganda
briefings! Bush continues to spew his lies, and is never held accountable by the
press. He can be as wrong as wrong gets, and still, it doesn’t matter.


People wonder why this country seems so
polarized today. I submit it has something to do with a credibility
chasm.

–C

—–Original Message—–
From: The
Daily Mislead [mailto:latest@daily.misleader.org]
Sent:
Tuesday, November 25, 2003 12:05 PM
Subject: While Bush Boasts of Ouster,
Taliban Rebuilds


===============================
THE DAILY
MIS-LEAD
http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1307348&l=10031
===============================

The Daily Mislead is all about
chronicling the gap between what President
Bush and his administration say,
and what they do. Starting today, to stay
on top of the Bush administration’s
serial misleading, The Daily Mislead
will be posted by noon
daily.

DESPITE BUSH BOAST OF OUSTER, TALIBAN IS REBUILDING ON THE GROUND
IN
AFGHANISTAN

President Bush yesterday said that we “put the Taliban
out of business
forever” – taking credit for supposedly ridding the world of
the terrorist
regime. He made these comments just a day after the Taliban
launched a
rocket attack on Kabul’s most prominent hotel. It was also one day
after
Reuters reported Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s still at-large leader,
“urged
Afghans to unite against U.S.-led foreign forces on their soil” and
the same
day Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister desperately requested more
international
help in fighting off Taliban geurillas. All told, the AP calls
the Taliban “
an increasingly virulent insurgency” while the LA Times reports
“nearly two
years after the U.S. drove the Taliban from power, remnants of
the Islamic
extremist group are regrouping and attacking U.S.
troops.”

Read the full Mis-Lead –>
http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1307348&l=10032

===========================================================

Subscribe
to the Daily Mislead! Go to http://www.misleader.org and
enter
your e-mail address in the “Receive the Daily Mislead” box in
the
top-left corner of the page.

Mystery Surrounds Death of State Dept. Official

November 24, 2003 at 2:53 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

Chalk up one more guy who paid for telling the truth about our intelligence
on Iraq with his life.

–C—–Original Message—–
From: bounce@fromthewilderness.com
[mailto:bounce@fromthewilderness.com]On Behalf Of From The Wilderness
Email Alert List
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2003 8:34 PM
Subject: From The Wilderness Headline Story: MYSTERY SURROUNDS DEATH OF
STATE DEPT. OFFICIAL

NOVEMBER 20, 2003

FTW Exclusive! MYSTERY SURROUNDS DEATH OF STATE DEPT. OFFICIAL Who Worked on
Iraqi Intelligence
by Wayne Madsen.
How Did a Senior Analyst at State’s Intelligence Unit Fall from the Roof of
State’s
Headquarters This Week and Why is No One Talking About It? State Department
reveal that Kokal was worried about his security clearance.

Read Now: http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ww3/112003_kokal.html

AOL Users:
Click
Here


You received this message because you are a
subscriber to From The Wilderness Publications,
or have signed up for the Free Email Alerts.

http://www.copvcia.com

“A Nonpartisan, Non-sectarian, MAP from the Here
That Is, Into the Tomorrow of Our Own Making.”

Copyright (c) 2003 From The Wilderness. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Colin Campbell on Peak Oil

November 24, 2003 at 2:48 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

 

Here are a couple more resources on
Peak Oil that I strongly encourage you to check out. If you’ve read the articles
on Peak Oil that I’ve sent around previously, you will recognize Dr. Campbell’s
name, and much of this material. But these resources really bring the problem
into focus in a less academic and more accessible way.

 

Here are some video excerpts of an
interview with Dr. Campbell from December 18, 2002, along with transcripts.
These excerpts are easily digested, especially if the previous articles were too
daunting:

http://globalpublicmedia.com/INTERVIEWS/COLIN.CAMPBELL/

 

Here is an updated paper by Dr.
Campbell from April 2001, for the M King Hubbert Center for Petroleum
Supply Studies at the Colorado School of Mines, presenting the critical material
in only 7 pages:

Peak Oil: A Turning Point for
Mankind

http://hubbert.mines.edu/news/Campbell_01-2.pdf

 

Finally, for those of you who enjoy
something a little more literary and academic, this article is interesting, and
highlights how the Peak Oil problem is at root of the Bush administration’s
foreign and domestic policies:

Spengler really
understands
By Joe Nichols

Asia Times, Nov 25, 200
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EK25Ak03.html

Here’s a worthy excerpt:

“This was nicely
demonstrated in a recent article by Gabriel Kolko, a leading military
historian[…] Noting that “the state’s intelligence mechanisms are constrained
by a larger structural and ideological environment which foredooms any effort to
base action on informed insight to a chimera”, and that “The political and
ideological imperatives and interests define the nature of ‘relevant’ truths,”
Kolko equates this tendency with the “US’s failed confrontation with the Islamic
world for over half a century” and places particular emphasis on the morass in
Iraq today. His conclusion: “To expect the US to behave other than as it has is
to cultivate serious illusions and delude oneself. The system, in a word, is
irrational. We saw it in Vietnam and we are seeing it today in Iraq.”

 

In plainer language: we invaded
Iraq because we absolutely must have control of the Middle East and its fossil
fuels before the shit really hits the fan.

 

This seems like a good time to review
Paul Krugman’s “Rules of reporting” for concerned citizens who are trying to
understand the news (from his book The Great Unraveling):

1. Don’t assume that policy proposals
make sense in terms of their stated goals.

2. Do some homework to discover the
real goals.

3. Don’t assume that the usual rules
of politics apply.

4. Expect a revolutionary power to
respond to criticism by attacking.

5. Don’t think that there’s a limit
to a revolutionary power’s objectives.

 

Let’s give Dr. Campbell the final
word:

“All of this is so incredibly obvious, being
clearly revealed by even the simplest analysis of discovery and production
trends. The inexplicable part is our great reluctance to look reality in the
face and at least make some plans for what promises to be one of the greatest
economic and political discontinuities of all time. Time is of the essence. It
is later than you think.”

–C

Robert Kennedy Jr. – Crimes Against Nature

November 22, 2003 at 10:31 am
Contributed by:

Folks,

 

Suddenly, Robert Kennedy Jr. seems
like he’s everywhere, taking up the fight against the Bush administration for
its unrelenting attacks on our environment and the public health. Here is the
first of two recent articles by Kennedy, both worth reading, every word. Even as
someone who keeps fairly current on environmental issues, I had no idea that the
Bush team’s attacks were so broad, so deep, so unconscionable, so horrific.
These are essential messages we must get out to the general public. Please
forward them broadly.

 

No matter what your political
allegiance is–right or left–you should read these articles and ask yourself
how much of your health, and the health of your children, you are willing to
sacrifice in order to enrich the barons of the energy industry.

 

Rolling Stone

Crimes Against
Nature


Bush is sabotaging the laws that have protected
America’s environment for more than thirty years


By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.


http://www.rollingstone.com/features/nationalaffairs/featuregen.asp?pid=2154&reset=true


–C

Kennedy – \"Save the Earth — dump Bush\"

November 22, 2003 at 10:31 am
Contributed by: Chris
Folks,
Here
is the second article, from Salon. Please read. (It even gives one a little hope
that Ahnold won’t be terrible for the California
environment.)
–C

Opinion

Save
the Earth — dump Bush
In a slashing interview,
environmental leader Bobby Kennedy Jr. denounces the administration’s “crimes
against nature” and discusses the Democratic presidential pack, the dawn of
Arnold’s California reign — and his own political future.
– – – – – –
– – – – – –
By David
Talbot

printe-mail
Nov. 19, 2003
|  When Bobby Kennedy Jr. talks about
the corporate polluters he has been fighting for nearly 20 years as an
environmental lawyer — and their accomplices in the Bush administration — he
gets the same steely look in his blue eyes that his father did when he was
confronting the moguls of organized crime. “I am angry,” he says, with a
Kennedyesque hand chop of the air. “Three of my sons have asthma and I watch
them struggle to breathe on bad air days. And it’s just scandalous to me that
these polluters can give millions to Bush and suddenly all these environmental
regulations are thrown out the window. These guys in Washington are selling huge
chunks of America’s natural resources, they have our government up for sale to
the highest bidder, and they’re getting away with it scot-free.”
This week Kennedy declares war on this new “enemy within” — the term his
father applied to the Mafia lords who were subverting American politics,
business and labor — with a passionate, sweeping indictment of the
Bush-sanctioned rape of our environment in the latest issue of Rolling Stone.
Kennedy lays out in legal-brief detail how, under Bush, the federal agencies
supposed to be guarding our air, water and natural resources have been
systematically turned over to the industry foxes that are ravaging them. But the
tone of his lengthy essay, titled “Crimes Against Nature,” is far from lawyerly.
Kennedy’s original subtitle was “Corporate Fascism and the End of Nature.”
Kennedy, who has built a reputation over the past two decades as the leading
defender of the huge Hudson Valley watershed that stretches from the Adirondacks
to New York City, is senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council
and also chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper, an organization
of fishermen on behalf of whom he’s battled G.E., Enron and dozens of other
corporate and governmental polluters of the legendary river. No other
environmental champion has a higher public profile than Kennedy, a factor not
just of his family name and impressive legal accomplishments, but of his
tireless speaking schedule, which takes him all over the country, from an energy
industry association one week to a conservative women’s club the next (two
recent engagements, he proudly notes, where he received standing ovations).
Kennedy, who is an avid fisherman and falconer, says he has been an
environmentalist all his life: “My mother said that when I was in the crib, I
was always picking up beetles.” As a boy, he wanted to be a veterinarian, but
after his father’s assassination in 1968, when Bobby Jr. was 14, he decided to
follow his father’s path through Harvard and the University of Virginia law
school. He was working for the Manhattan district attorney’s office in 1983 when
the drug problems he had long been wrestling with caught up with him; while
flying to South Dakota for drug treatment, the 29-year-old Kennedy overdosed on
heroin and was arrested for possession after his plane landed. The following
year, as part of his rehabilitation Kennedy volunteered to work for the Natural
Resources Defense Council. Kennedy will not talk about what he took from this
experience — “That’s not something I want to talk about with the press. I have
other places where I talk about that,” he once told the New York Times — but it
doesn’t seem overly dramatic to suggest that by committing himself to a life of
environmental action, he was saving his life. As the Times noted, 1984 was the
year Kennedy (in his words) “reevaluated” his life: “I was going to do what I
wanted to do.”

Kennedy’s main base of operations is a modest, two-story building on the Pace
University campus in White Plains, N.Y., where he teaches law and runs an
environmental litigation clinic. Outside, a weathered-looking fishing boat
stands vigil. The building lobby is awash in aquatic life, with mounted fish on
the walls and a big, brimming aquarium in the center. Kennedy’s cramped office
is adorned on one side with a wall of fame, including photos picturing him at
various events with a mixed bag of celebrities — Cameron Diaz, Keith Richards,
Bonnie Raitt, Nancy Reagan, Dan Quayle, Gloria Estefan. (Kennedy has called his
family name a “blessing” that gives him access to a range of public figures who
can help his causes.) Another wall is dominated by a haunting black-and-white
poster of his father, walking down a lonely open road in Oregon, with snow peaks
in the distance, during his 1968 presidential run.
Kennedy, who is 49 years old and lives in nearby Bedford with his wife, Mary,
and six children, sat down in the legal clinic’s no-frills boardroom to talk
with Salon over a Chinese take-out lunch and cups of Keeper Springs water, his
bottled water that is sold in the Mid-Atlantic states (all profits go to the
national organization of river keepers). Kennedy, who was wearing a navy blue
work shirt and rumpled white Dockers, has an unassuming personality. Before
digging into his “Triple Delight with Scallions” and fried rice, Kennedy, who is
a devout Catholic, said a silent prayer and crossed himself. The conversation
ranged from Bush’s environmental record to the 2004 Democratic challengers to
the fate of American democracy and his own political future. Kennedy also had a
surprisingly warm assessment of the Republican in his extended family,
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who he is convinced is a strong
environmentalist.
You charge in your Rolling Stone article that Bush is the worst
environmental president in American history.

Yes, that’s true. And he’s far worse than No. 2, who’s Warren Harding. Based
upon the fact that we have 30 major environmental laws that are now being
eviscerated. All of the investment we have made in our environmental
infrastructure since Earth Day 1970 is now being undermined in a three-year
period of astonishing activity.
The NRDC Web site lists over
200 environmental rollbacks by the White House in the last two years. If even a
fraction of those are actually implemented, we will effectively have no
significant federal environmental law left in our country by this time next
year. That’s not exaggeration, it’s not hyperbole, it is a fact.
As I say in the Rolling Stone article, many of our laws will remain on the
books in one form or another. But we’ll be Mexico, which has these wonderful,
even poetic, environmental laws, but nobody knows about them and nobody complies
with them because they can’t be enforced.
You also point out that the Bush administration has been very careful in
how they’ve gone about rolling back environmental progress. You write that,
unlike the Reagan administration’s more confrontational approach, they operate
in a stealth manner. Exactly how does this work?

Well, unlike Reagan, they control both houses of Congress, so they can attach
stealthy, anti-environmental riders to must-pass budget bills. In that way they
can alter statutes without debate or public scrutiny. Furthermore, a lot of the
environmental regulations are arcane and highly technical and require strict
enforcement by the various agencies. The Bush administration is suspending
enforcement or changing agency policies without altering the regulations. A lot
of the changes are illegal, and groups like the NRDC will sue them and we will
win the lawsuits — but that litigation process takes 10 or 12 years, and by
that time the damage will be done.
So how are they getting away with it?
Because they’ve taken control of the agencies that are supposed to be
protecting us. And Congress doesn’t scrutinize them because, as I said, the
Republicans control Capitol Hill. The people running Congress these days,
particularly Tom DeLay, are among the strongest advocates for dismantling our
environmental infrastructure. There are no hearings on Capitol Hill, no public
scrutiny.
Why isn’t the media being more of a watchdog on this?
The consolidation of American media over the past decade or so has
dramatically diminished the inquisitiveness of our national press. There are now
only 11 companies that control virtually every radio outlet, every TV outlet and
every newspaper in our country. And because of that media consolidation, the
news bureaus are no longer run by newspeople. They are now corporate profit
centers. Most of these companies have liquidated their foreign bureaus, because
they’re expensive to run. That’s why you can’t get foreign news in this country;
you have to go to the BBC. And they’ve liquidated their investigative journalism
units, because that kind of reporting is also expensive. So news has become the
lowest common denominator, which is why you see sensational crime coverage, you
see Laci Peterson and Kobe Bryant all the time, you see celebrity gossip, which
is really just a form of pornography. And you see murders, which is really just
another form of pornography. You just see notorious crimes, and you don’t really
see much substantive news anymore.
The Tyndall Report,
which is the service that analyzes what’s on TV, recently surveyed the
environmental content on TV news and of the 15,000 minutes of network news that
aired last year only 4 percent of them were devoted to the environment. And this
is at a time when we have a president who is dismantling 30 years of
environmental law, and when we are going through a global environmental crisis,
including mass extinctions comparable to the disappearance of the dinosaurs.
Global fisheries have dropped to 10 percent of their 1950s levels, the ice caps
and glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, and one out of every four black
children in New York has asthma.
Your own children have asthma too, don’t they?
Yes, three of my six children, three of my boys, have asthma. We don’t know
why there’s this epidemic of asthma, but we do know that asthma attacks are
triggered by bad air days, especially by high levels of particulates and ozone.
And just a couple weeks ago, the Bush administration abandoned the new source
performance standards (that regulate industrial pollution), which means that the
amount of junk in our air is actually going to increase. The energy industry
contributed $48 million to Bush and the Republicans in the 2000 campaign. And
this is one of their big payoffs — it will mean billions of dollars in extra
profits for the industry. But the public is going to be paying that debt for
generations — with children, American children, who are gasping for breath and
people literally dying. The National Academy of Sciences predicts that 30,000
Americans a year will die because of the Bush decision. And that’s just one of
the impacts.
Another is that airborne mercury contamination has made it dangerous to eat
any freshwater fish in 28 states and the fish in most of our coastal waters. And
that mercury is coming from those same power plants. Fifty percent of the lakes
in the Adirondacks are now sterilized from acid rain that’s coming from those
same power plants. The forest cover all the way up the Appalachians from Georgia
to Canada is now deteriorating, again because of acid rain from those same power
plants. And in order to provide the fuel for those power plants, we’re cutting
down the Appalachian mountains. It’s illegal what they’re doing, for coal
companies to blast off the mountaintops and dump them into the adjoining rivers
and streams. But the Bush administration has announced that it will no longer
enforce those laws. And that’s what’s happening at the White House these days.
If we’re looking at an environmental wasteland under Bush, why aren’t
there people in the streets the way they were on Earth Day 1970, which launched
the modern environmental movement?

Well, it’s not because people aren’t interested. The primary reason is it’s
not being covered in the news. I asked [Fox News chief] Roger Ailes about this
recently, and he said, “We just don’t cover it because it’s not fast-breaking.
If you release toxics into the air, people don’t get sick for 20 years. We need
something that is happening this afternoon. The polar ice caps melting — that’s
just too slow for us to cover.”
And of course the tampering with the regulations you’re seeing in Washington
is happening in back corridors, and the networks can’t be bothered to
investigate, much less explain to the public the connection between these
regulatory rollbacks, even though the outcomes will be dramatic and will affect
America for generations.
But I’ll say this — every poll shows that both Republicans and Democrats
want strong environmental laws, up around 75 percent of the public, and there’s
almost no difference between the parties. Those polls are confirmed by my own
anecdotal evidence. I speak all around the country on environmental issues.
Three weeks ago I spoke at a petroleum and gas industry conference, and I got a
standing ovation from the audience when I told them about Bush’s environmental
record. And I’ll give you another example: I was recently in Richmond, Va.,
speaking to the Women’s Club, which is solidly Republican — I was told that
none of its members had voted for a Democrat since Jefferson Davis. And I got a
standing ovation there, too. It’s because most Republicans are actually
Democrats; they just don’t know it. If they knew what was happening in the White
House, they would be angry, they would be furious. And when they are told what
is happening, they get angry. And that’s the reaction I get all around the
country. If we get the message out, we win.
You don’t think people who belong to an energy trade association
understand what’s happening on the environment in Washington?

Well, the people who actually work in the petroleum industry, many of them
are hunters and fishermen and they care about the outdoors and the environment.
And no, I don’t think they realize in many cases what their trade association is
doing, what their lobbying groups are doing in Washington. These groups always
take the most radical, ultraright-wing positions on every issue. But that
doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of their membership. And most Americans
care about this country and the outdoors, and they understand that we have to
practice some self-restraint. And over the long term what is good economic
policy is identical to what is good environmental policy.
So why isn’t the environmental movement giving Roger Ailes the visuals he
needs by getting out in the streets and practicing the kind of civil
disobedience and spectacular protest that would make the media take notice? Let
me put it another way: Has the environmental movement lost its political fire
and become too legalistic?

It’s true that in its early years, the environmental movement was driven by
former labor organizers who knew how to do grass-roots organizing. And they were
able to bring 20 million people out on the streets of America on Earth Day 1970.
But since then it has become less activist. Between then and 1995, because of
the success of the movement, a lot of the leadership was focused on
inside-the-Beltway concerns, about how to push through maximum contaminant
levels for drinking water and water-quality standards, and issues that were
arcane and technical that lost touch with the parables that gave the
environmental movement its original power. The Cuyahoga River burning, Lake Erie
being declared dead, Love Canal, and Three Mile Island. These were the dramatic
stories — where people suffered obvious environmental injury — that once
animated the movement.
At the same time, you had an extremely sophisticated industry effort to
discredit the environmental movement, to dismiss them as tree huggers, as
unrealistic, as anti-job, as elitist. And they have been very successful at it.
They’ve put huge amounts of money into it. The Heritage Foundation is a creation
of this industry movement, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute — all of
those type of think tanks in Washington are funded by industry to promote its
views. That there is no such thing as global warming, that DDT is good for you,
that caribou love the Alaska pipeline. And they stock these phony think tanks
with marginalized scientists, who we call “biostitutes,” whose whole job is to
do the industry’s bidding and to persuade the public that environmental injury
doesn’t exist, that it’s an illusion, that it’s henny-penny-ism.
In most Americans’ hearts, the investment in our environmental infrastructure
is well worth making. They want our children to have clean air and clean water
to drink, and they want to preserve the wild places that make America special,
the places that are sacred to Americans.
But there is a marriage between the pollution interests and these right-wing
paranoid movements led by people like Rush Limbaugh, Paul Weyrich, Pat Robertson
and Jerry Falwell. They got a huge infusion of money in the 1980s from big
industrial polluters like Joseph Coors, and it suddenly gave them an enormous
voice. This wing has come to dominate the Republican Party. And the central
platform of all these groups is their anti-environmentalism. They’re against any
regulations that interfere with corporate profit-taking.
What about the Democratic Party? Isn’t it part of the problem too?
Democratic politicians receive money from many of these same corporate
polluters. And Al Gore certainly failed to make the environment a major issue in
the last presidential race, even though he was supposedly Mr. Environment.

Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s because most of the candidates do not know
how to explain these issues in a way that makes them relevant to the average
voter. And in fact they have extraordinary relevance to average people. We’re
not protecting the environment for the sake of the fishes and the birds; we’re
doing it because it enriches us. It’s the basis of our economy, and we ignore
that at our peril. The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of our environment.
It also enriches us aesthetically and recreationally and culturally and
historically — and spiritually. Human beings have other appetites besides
money, and if we don’t feed them, we’re not going to become the beings that our
Creator intended us to become.
When we destroy the environment, we are diminishing ourselves and we’re
impoverishing our children. And our obligation as a generation — as Americans,
as a civilization — is to create communities that give our children the same
opportunities for dignity and enrichment as the communities that our parents
gave us. And we cannot do that if we don’t protect our environmental
infrastructure. And that’s really what this is all about.
So why didn’t Al Gore go near this issue in the 2000 race?
That was a great disappointment to me. I urged him to do it. And I believe he
would be president if he had.
Have you talked with him about it since the race?
No, not since the race. But I talked to him and to [key Gore advisor] Bob
Shrum during the race.
And what was their explanation at the time — that it wouldn’t get him
swing votes?

Their rationale was, No. 1, that they were talking about the
environment, but that it wasn’t getting traction with the press, and No. 2, that
everyone knew that Gore was an environmentalist and he needed to establish his
credentials in other areas.
But it was my feeling that Americans don’t vote for a politician because he’s
mastered the issues — they vote for a politician who they believe shares values
with them. And is passionate about those values, and will fight for those
values. And I think Gore’s challenge was to explain the environment in ways that
made Americans understand it was intertwined with all the other issues they
cared about, and all their basic values.
Gore’s failure was he didn’t embrace the thing he genuinely cared about — he
didn’t have the confidence to do that. Instead, he felt he had to prove his
competence in all these other areas, to master the minutiae of every other
issue. And Americans don’t care about that.
I mean, look at George W. Bush — he knows nothing about any issue. He
doesn’t seem to have a single complex thought in his head or shred of curiosity.
I mean, he claims he doesn’t even watch the news or read newspapers. But people
find something kind of charming and trustworthy about his manner — and that’s
all they need.
Ironically, the environment — because he did care so strongly about it —
might have been the one issue that humanized Gore as a candidate.

Exactly. And make people trust him. Make them feel he’s not just a guy who’s
following the polls and consumed by ambition. That he’s running because he has a
core value that he considers worth fighting for. That’s the challenge that every
politician has. Instead, people just saw him as a phony, that he didn’t really
believe in anything, aside from getting elected. And that his campaign wasn’t
about a vision for America and for the world — it was just about ambition.
You’ve endorsed John Kerry in the 2004 race. Do you think he’ll champion
the environment more boldly than Gore in his campaign?

I think he already is; he’s already framed this as his issue. I like all of
the Democratic candidates and they’re all relatively good on the environment.
Actually, I don’t know anything about Wes Clark on this issue, I haven’t talked
to him. But I have good friends who have and they say he’s expressed strong
feelings on the environment. So I think all the Democratic candidates are in the
right place.
But Kerry has the best record of any senator; he has a 96 percent lifetime
rating with the League of Conservation Voters. This has been a passion for him
since he got into public life. He was the Massachusetts organizer for Earth Day
in 1970, and he has fought hard for fuel efficiency standards, which is now the
holy grail of the environmental movement. He’s been the one consistent champion
on that issue.
I’ve known Kerry almost all my life and he’s an outdoorsman, he loves being
on the water, he loves fishing. I’ve spent a lot of time on Nantucket Sound with
him. Last summer he called my brother Max and asked him to come to Wood’s Hole
to go windsurfing with him, and they ended up windsurfing all the way from
Wood’s Hole to Nantucket, which is 45 miles, over open ocean. And that’s pretty
good for a 56-year-old guy. And he wasn’t calling a press conference or
anything. He just did it because they got into the water. It’s genuine.
Have you campaigned for Kerry?
Yeah. But I also have relationships with all the other candidates. Whoever
the Democrat is, I’m going to be supporting him. I want someone to beat Bush,
that’s all I care about. And I think Kerry is more likely to do that than any of
the other candidates.
In a one-to-one debate, Kerry’s unbeatable. He’s a genuine war hero, unlike
the draft dodgers who are now devising our foreign policy, Bush, Cheney,
Wolfowitz, Perle, DeLay. Of course there are lots of people who evaded the draft
during Vietnam due to moral qualms about the war. But these characters were
pro-war hawks. They just wanted someone else to die for our country. Kerry’s
record of bravery, on the other hand, will appeal to voters in swing states like
South Carolina where there are plenty of veterans who understand the
significance of the sacrifice that he was willing to make.
You
talk a lot about the environment in spiritual terms. Are you a practicing
Catholic?

Yes.
And yet, as you point out in your Rolling Stone article, some of the most
passionate ground troops for the anti-environment backlash have come from the
Christian right. How do you make sense of that — that these people are also
inspired by religious conviction?

I would say what the fundamentalists call “dominion theology” is a Christian
heresy. These are people who read the Bible in a certain way, to justify
corporate domination of the planet, the same way people used to read the Bible
to justify slavery.


Dominion Christians believe that the Apocalypse is coming soon, the planet
was put here for us to exploit, to liquidate for cash, and we have a duty to do
that — even if we destroy nature in the process. Reagan’s EPA chief James Watt
was a radical dominion fundamentalist — he believed it was sinful for us to
protect the earth for future generations.
The industrialist who first recognized the potential for organzing these
right-wing fanatics into a political movement was Joseph Coors, who was
Colorado’s biggest polluter. Coors engineered a pact between polluting
industries and this marginalized, paranoid element that has existed throughout
America’s political history. This was in the 1980s, around the same time that
world communism was falling apart, and so the right wing needed a new bugaboo.
If you read Pat Roberts’ book “New World Order,” the evolution is clearly
outlined; he says the new communists are the environmentalists. He calls them
“watermelons” — green on the outside, but red on the inside. And he makes the
same association that the John Birch Society did — that because Earth Day
happened to fall on Lenin’s birthday, this was evidence that environmentalists
were the new secret spies of the new world order, as communism disappeared.
Robertson interprets American politics through the lens of his apocalyptic
theology. He calls environmentalists “the minions of Satan,” who are trying to
turn America — which is the New Jerusalem — over to the philistines of the
earth who seek to dominate us through internationalism and the U.N.
Does this radical fringe actually have influence within the Bush
administration?

Absolutely. Many of Bush’s key appointments come out of this far-right fringe
and the industries that fund them. [Interior Secretary] Gale Norton was Watts’
successor at Mountain States Legal Foundation. Steven Griles, an energy industry
lobbyist who is now Norton’s deputy, also came right out of Watts’ shop, and now
he’s busy doing all these terrible things — giving away our parks, punishing
scientists who tell the truth. The administration is full of these people, like
Andrew Card, Condoleezza Rice, Spencer Abraham — they come out of the auto or
oil industries, the militantly anti-environmental wing of industry.
Why do you think Christie Todd Whitman resigned as EPA chief?
It was clearly a no-win situation for her. Now Whitman had an absolutely
miserable environmental record when she was governor of New Jersey; she was one
of the worst governors in the country — the first thing she did when she took
office in New Jersey was fire every lawyer in the state environmental department
who knew how to do enforcement. We would have fought her EPA appointment, but
despite her disastrous record, she actually looked good in comparison to some of
the other characters Bush was recruiting as Cabinet secretaries.
After she took over the EPA, she tried to rein in the Bush administration on
Kyoto [the global warming accords] and made a couple of anemic efforts to
mitigate the industry looting. But each time, she was humiliated by the White
House and ended up looking like a feeble scold at a frat house orgy. So if you
look at it from her point of view, she was not making friends with the
environmental movement and she was not making friends within the Republican
Party. So what’s the point of being there? It was just an untenable, no-win
situation for her.
So for someone like Christie Whitman to find herself in an untenable
position …

Shows the radicalism of this crowd. That they made her look moderate!
In Rolling Stone, you use the term “corporate fascism” to describe what’s
happening under Bush. Do you think that’s excessive rhetoric?

No, I don’t. When I was growing up, I was taught that communism leads to
dictatorship and capitalism leads inevitably to democracy. And I think that’s
the assumption of most Americans. Certainly if you listen to people like Sean
Hannity or any other voices of the right, there’s an assumption that capitalism
in any form is beneficial for democracy. But that’s not always true. Free market
capitalism certainly democratizes a nation and a people. But corporate
capitalism has the opposite effect. The control of the capitalist system by
large corporations leads to the elimination of markets and ultimately to the
elimination of democracy. And we desperately need to understand that point in
our country — that the domination of our country by large corporations is
absolutely catastrophic for our democratic process.
Corporations don’t want free markets, they want profits. And the best way to
guarantee profits is to eliminate the competition; in other words, eliminate the
marketplace, through the control of government. And that’s what we’re seeing
today in our country. There is no free market left in agriculture. The free
market has almost been eliminated in the energy sector. These are two of our
most critical sectors, and the marketplace has disappeared. We’re seeing the
same process underway in the media industry now. So there’s very little consumer
choice and Americans aren’t getting the benefits and efficiencies that the free
market promises us.
Under Bush we’re seeing the complete corporate domination of the various
departments of government. The Agriculture Department, which was created to
benefit small farmers, is now a wholly owned subsidiary of big agribusiness and
the principal instrument of their destruction. The Forest Service is being run
by a timber industry lobbyist, Public Lands by a mining industry lobbyist.
Virtually all Bush’s Cabinet secretaries, department deputies and agency heads
come from the very industries that those agencies are supposed to be regulating.
The same thing happened in Germany, Italy and Spain during the fascist
takeover in the 1920s and ’30s — you had industrialists flooding the ministries
and running the ministries, and running them in many ways for their own profit.
If you read the American Heritage Dictionary definition of fascism, it says “the
domination of a government by corporations of the political right, combined with
bellicose nationalism.” Well, we’re seeing that today.
Of course the first people who start talking about this connection are going
to be derided for it. Even though Rush Limbaugh calls feminists “Nazis.” The
right wing for years has tried to discredit anyone who believes in the idea of
community as a “communist” or a “pinko.” But it’s time that people started
telling the truth about what’s going on in this country. And start realizing
that democracy is fragile, that corporate cronyism is as antithetical to
democracy in America as it is in Nigeria.
The other day I got something in the mail from a farmer — small farmers in
this country understand better than anyone how markets are being stolen and
democracy is being eroded. He sent me a quote from Mussolini that said fascism
should really be called “corporatism” — because it’s the control of government
by large corporations.
Another farmer sent me my favorite quote. This one was by Lincoln, in 1863,
during the height of the Civil War, when he says, “I have the South in front of
me and the bankers behind me — and for my country, I fear the bankers most.”
Lincoln, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Eisenhower and all of our great
leaders have warned our nation that the greatest threat to our democracy is from
large corporate interests.
Many conservatives would say it’s easy for wealthy liberals like the
Kennedys to talk about saving the environment because they’ve amassed their
wealth already. Your grandfather Joe Kennedy was the buccaneer capitalist who
made the family fortune, and all his descendants are living off his wealth. But
what about the rest of us, who are still clawing our way toward our piece of the
American dream and are being hobbled by government regulations? These are people
who equate environmentalism with elite liberalism, and the Kennedy name to them
symbolizes all of that.

Well, let me say this: Good environmental policy is identical to good
economic policy, if we want to measure our economy — and this is how we should
be measuring it — based on how it produces jobs, and the dignity of those jobs,
and how it creates opportunity, and how it preserves the value of our nation’s
assets. If, on the other hand, you want to treat the planet the way the current
Washington regime does, like it’s a business in liquidation, to convert our
natural resources to cash as quickly as possible, to have a few years of
pollution-based prosperity, well then you can create the short-term illusion of
a prosperous economy, but our children are going to pay for our joy ride. And
they’re going to pay for it with denuded landscapes and poor health and huge
cleanup costs that they’re never going to be able to pay. Environmental injury
is deficit spending. It’s a way of loading the costs of our prosperity onto the
backs of our children.
So your environmentalism is not the luxury hobby of a rich kid?
There is no stronger advocate of free-market capitalism than myself. As a
small businessman who is founder and operator of a bottled water company, I
believe in and understand the free market a lot better than Sean Hannity ever
will. But in a true free-market economy, you can’t make yourself rich without
making your neighbors rich and without enriching your community. What polluters
do is make themselves rich by making everyone else poor. They raise standards of
living for themselves by lowering quality of life for everyone else. And they do
that by escaping the discipline of the free market. Show me a polluter and I’ll
show you a subsidy, I’ll show you a fat cat who’s using political clout to
escape the discipline of the free market and forcing the public to pay his costs
of production.
You look at all the Western resource issues, like grazing and lumber and
mining and agriculture, and it’s all about subsidies — for some of the richest
people in America, these welfare cowboys in the Western states who are getting
$35 billion a year in federal subsidies that are destroying our ecosystems out
there. And these are the same people who financed this right-wing revolution on
Capitol Hill and helped put Bush in the White House, and now they have their
indentured servants in Washington all demanding that we have capitalism for the
poor and socialism for the rich.
I’ll give you another example of how pollution is a form of corporate
subsidy. When General Electric dumped PCBs into the Hudson River, it was
avoiding the costs of bringing its product to market, which was the cost of
properly disposing of a dangerous processed chemical. But when it avoided the
cost, the cost didn’t just disappear — it went into the fish, it made people
sick, it put people who depend on the river for their livelihood out of work. I
now have 1,000 commercial fishermen, my clients, who are now permanently out of
work. It dried up the river’s barge traffic because the shipping channels are
now too toxic to dredge. It forced local towns along the Hudson to invest in
expensive water filtration systems. Every woman between Oswego and New York has
elevated levels of PCB in her breast milk. And everybody in the Hudson Valley
has PCBs in our flesh and our organs. All those impacts impose costs on the rest
of us that should, in a true free-market economy, be reflected in the prices of
G.E. products when they make it to the market. But what G.E. did — which is
what all polluters do — is use political clout to escape the discipline of the
free market and force the public to pay the costs of its production.
G.E. was finally forced to pay some of the costs of the cleanup, wasn’t
it?

Well, they’re going to do an initial cleanup, but that doesn’t start until
2006. They’ll never have to account for the true costs that they imposed on the
Hudson River community. I don’t even consider myself an environmentalist
anymore; I consider myself a free marketeer. We go out into the marketplace and
we catch the cheaters. And we say to them, “We’re going to force you to
internalize your costs, the same way you internalize your profits.” Because when
someone cheats the free market, it distorts the whole marketplace.
The Kennedy family and the Bush family are the two modern American
political dynasties. How would you characterize the differences between the two
families and what they stand for?

What I see is this. I think there’s always been a tension in American history
between two separate philosophies. One is the philosophy that was first
articulated by Jonathan Winthrop when he made the most important speech in
American history, in 1630, as he approached the New World with a convoy of
Puritans. He was the Moses of the great Puritan migration. And he stood up on
the deck of the sloop Arbella, and he gave his famous speech, which was called
“A Model of Christian Charity.” And he said this land is being given to us by
God so that we can create cities on a hill, not so that we can increase our
carnal opportunities or expand our self-interest or disappear into the lure of
real estate, but so that we can build cities on a hill — models to all the rest
of the nations of what human beings can accomplish if they work together and
maintain their focus on a spiritual mission. And even though he was a Puritan
and an Englishman, what he said that day was integrated into the fabric of what
became America.
Now that philosophy distinguished the European settlement of North America
from the European conquest of Asia, Africa and Latin America — where the
Europeans came as conquistadors to subjugate the peoples, extract the metals,
and enrich themselves and then keep moving. Here, in America, they came to build
communities that were models to the rest of the world.
There is, of course, also a conquistador aspect to our American character,
which really didn’t take a strong hold in our nation until the Gold Rush of
1849, when people said, “Oh, this is a place where you can go and get rich quick
and take care of yourself, and it’s all about making my pile higher and whoever
dies with the most stuff wins.”
I think those two polarized philosophies provide the tension that has driven
every major political conflict in American history. One vision is about building
communities, and emphasizing that we can’t advance as a nation by leaving our
poor brothers and sisters behind, or by abandoning our obligation to the next
generation. And the other philosophy is “just take care of myself,” and that
will somehow drive the economy and make us great.
So you think those clashing philosophies are what define the Kennedy
family vs. the Bush family?

Well, I don’t want to make generalizations about the whole Bush family, but I
think it definitely defines the current president. He’s got the conquistador
mentality, that you take care of your friends, you enrich yourself, and that’s
the point of government.
I know you’ve been asked this question many times, but I’m going to ask it
again. The legendary environmental activist Dave Foreman has said that what the
movement needs is a leader with charismatic appeal to make these issues come
alive for the American people. I can’t think of any other environmentalist with
as high a profile as you have — and it’s based not just on your name but years
of hard work as an environmental activist. I think you did the right thing by
keeping a low profile for many years and just letting your work speak for
itself. And that’s certainly a commendable thing. But at this stage, clearly
what America lacks is a solid bench of talented, progressive leaders. The
country is crying out for it now. I know there must be a number of personal
reasons that have made you hold back from going into politics to espouse these
ideas. But certainly if there were any time for a leader to articulate the
environmental agenda — which is a progressive social agenda, as you point out
— it would be now. So why haven’t you run for public office — is it something
that you’ve ruled out forever?

No. But I would prefer not to run for political office, because of the costs
it imposes on the rest of your life. I have six children. And my primary
obligation is to them. Otherwise, I almost certainly would have run, if I did
not have children.
What are their ages?
My oldest is 19, and my youngest is 2. But my aspiration is to try to be
effective without imposing the costs of a political race on my kids. At this
point I can travel a lot and bring my family with me, and I see them every night
at dinnertime and I’m able to spend weekends with them, while at the same time
I’m doing my best [in the public arena].
But in the last six months, I’ve made a shift — I’m going to be doing more
public stuff, because I believe that we win this debate if the public
understands it. And it seems so overwhelming a battle a lot of the time, because
industry has so much money to get their arguments out there, and we have so
little. But as Winston Churchill said, you just have to keep talking about it,
you have to keep telling the story again and again and again. And ultimately the
public will realize the truth. And I see that as my role. I’m going to do
everything I can to tell this story to as many people as possible, with the hope
that at some point the public will recognize the truth, and when they do,
they’ll share the same kind of anger and indignation that I feel.
I believe that George W. Bush is stealing my country, that he is absolutely
stealing the environment from our children, stealing the breath from my
children’s lungs and stealing the Bill of Rights, selling off the sacred places,
and trashing all the things I value about America. Our reputation across the
globe, the love and admiration that other peoples and nations once had for
America, the safety of our nation, the security of our children, the economy,
the ability of our children to educate themselves for the future — it’s all
being liquidated by this president for his wealthy friends and contributors. And
I am so furious at this man for stealing the thing I love most, which is
America, my country.
As a young man, your father was among the first public officials to
recognize the dangers of organized crime, how it was infiltrating and corrupting
business, labor and politics and undermining the nation. This threat clearly
brought out the passionate crusader in your father. And I’m wondering if there
is a parallel between his crusade against the underworld bosses and your own
campaign against corporate polluters?

I’m very comfortable with my father’s philosophies, and I feel very strongly
that my life in many ways is an extension of the battles that he was trying to
fight. His book on organized crime was titled “The Enemy Within” — and I think
the enemy within is still the greatest threat to our country, but it’s no longer
the Mafia, it’s corporate control of our country and our communities, it’s the
erosion of democracy. I’m not scared of Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. They
can never hurt America in any fundamental way. As Teddy Roosevelt said, American
democracy will never be destroyed by outside enemies — but it can be destroyed
by the malefactors of great wealth who subtly rob and undermine it from within.
And I see that process happening today. And just as there were a lot of people
who denied that the Mafia existed at that time, today there’s a huge lobby that
is denying the fact that our democracy is really threatened by corporate
control.
Before I let you go, I have to ask you about the latest elected official
in the extended Kennedy clan, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Do you think Schwarzenegger,
knowing him as you do, will prove to be the governor who cozied up with Ken Lay
of Enron or, as he claims he will, the governor of the people?

I think Arnold will be good for California. I think that having a Republican
in office is always a bad thing, because you’re bringing in the people who got
you elected — the Chemical Manufacturers Association, the Farm Bureau, the
American Petroleum Institute, and all of these kind of bad characters, the
pirates of the American economy. But I think Arnold will be good. He said to me
last summer, during an August weekend on Cape Cod, that he wanted to make the
environment one of his key issues, that he was going to be the greatest
environmental governor in the history of California. And he asked me then to
help him put together a team. I didn’t endorse him because I had a close
relationship with Governor Gray Davis and Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante,
who had done decent things on the environment. But I helped Arnold put together
an environmental policy, which Arnold read and then adopted. And it’s probably
stronger than Gore’s policy. It’s certainly stronger than anybody else who was
running for California governor, with the exception of the Green Party
candidate.
I’ll be able to answer this question better in a little while, when Arnold
will announce the new chief of California’s Environmental Protection Agency. I
encouraged Arnold to name a very strong conservationist, Terry Tamminen, who is
the Santa Monica Baykeeper, to the post. And it looks like he’s going to do it.
And there’s never been anyone with those kind of environmental credentials in
that position. [Last week Schwarzenegger did indeed name Tamminen as his new
environmental secretary.]
I know he was urged by very strong Republicans not to appoint Terry. I have a
friend who was in the room with him when Arnold received a call from a
Republican whom he’s very fond of and who’s in his inner circle [he was later
identified in press reports as Schwarzenegger’s powerful transition chief,
California Rep. David Dreier], and he said to Arnold, “You cannot appoint Terry
Tammimen.” And Arnold said to him, “I deeply appreciate the work you did on my
campaign and I value your advice, but I’m the governor and I’m going to appoint
who I want.” That made me extremely encouraged and proud.
Arnold still has one environmental flaw, his love of Hummers — have you
talked to him about that?

(Laughs) Yeah, extensively. He understands the issue and he’s converting his
Hummers to hydrogen. And he also understands that he needs to exert his
influence on Detroit. And he supports the California fuel efficiency bill, which
will make it the most progressive state in the country.

salon.com

printe-mail
– – – – – – – – – – –

About the writer
David Talbot is Salon’s founder and editor
in chief.

Sound Off
Send us a Letter to the Editor

Who voted for/against energy bill cloture vote?

November 21, 2003 at 10:46 am
Contributed by:

Folks,

I did a little sleuthing this morning trying to find out exactly who supported the filibuster (by voting against the cloture vote) and who didn’t. Journalist Bill Watts of CBS Marketwatch.com came through for me, here’s the link:
http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=108&session=1&vote=00456
If you’ve got a little time today, I suggest contacting these 13 Democratic senators who did not support the filibuster, and who could swing this thing one way or the other today. The filibuster continues and another cloture vote is likely to come up this afternoon.

Baucus (D-MT)
Breaux (D-LA)
Conrad (D-ND)
Daschle (D-SD)
Dayton, (D-MN)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Harkin, (D-IA)
Johnson (D-SD)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Miller (D-GA)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
In particular, I hope everybody gives Tom Daschle a piece of their minds. These senators need to get their priorities straight and think about the long term energy security of the country, instead of just some short-term pork for their corn agribusiness.

–C

Senate Filibuster of Energy Bill Succeeds!

November 21, 2003 at 9:47 am
Contributed by:

Folks,

 

Great news! The Democrats in the
Senate did lead a successful filibuster of the energy bill yesterday, and the
attempt to cut off the filibuster with a cloture vote failed today–by three
votes. The filibuster succeeded because five Republicans from New
England and John McCain (R-AZ) crossed the aisle
to
support it. My heartfelt
thanks to all of you who contacted your senators to support the filibuster!

 

However, the Republican leadership is
hoping to shift some votes, and conduct another vote later today. Put in another
call to your senators todayas the filibuster is continuing and the bill is still
teetering on the edge
. I will contact some Midwestern senators today to express my support, and put in a personal thanks to
the Republican senators who stood with the filibuster. I’ve already chastised
Tom Daschle (D-SD) for his shameful and gutless support of the bill due to its
ethanol provision, an issue near and dear to the heart of his corn belt
constituency
.

 

While there have been a
number of choice quotes about this bill, including “Hooters and Polluters”
(because it included $2 billion in tax-exempt “green bonds” to help fund
energy-saving projects such as an entertainment center in Louisiana that will
include a Hooters restaurant), the best quote, in my opinion, was John McCain’s: “Sen.
John McCain (R-Ariz.) protested that the bill was so full of goodies for special
interests, ‘I feel somewhat like a mosquito in a nudist colony. I hardly know
where to begin.'”

Read on:

 

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-112103energy_lat,1,5653626.story?coll=la-home-headlines

 

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=584&e=1&u=/nm/20031121/pl_nm/energy_congress_dc

 

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/11/21/EDG3H36C9E1.DTL

 

Here’s
another interesting link, to 37 editorials from yesterday, compiled by the Senate
Committe On Energy and Natural Resources, all of them negative:


 

Of course, this fight ain’t over yet.
If the second vote today fails, the bill will likely be taken up again next
year. So keep your pencils sharp. In the meantime, if you didn’t get around to
reading that article I sent around a while ago about PUHCA, I’ll give it another
plug, because it was very good, and because PUHCA would be repealed by this
bill, opening the door to a wave of Enron-style energy market
gaming: 

 



www.citizen.org/documents/puhcafordummies.pdf  
(Yeah, sorry, it’s another horrid PDF file.)

 

And if
you just don’t have the patience to read that one, then at least check out this
summary:

 

THE PUHCA PRIMER


 

–C

China’s new fuel standards

November 20, 2003 at 2:36 pm
Contributed by: Chris

Folks,

 

As I sit here listening to the
energy bill debate on CSPAN, watching Sen. Sununu (R-New Hampshire) complain
about the $250 million in the bill for solar photovoltaics and the $250 million
for energy efficiency (while doing nothing about fuel economy) I’m sure
that somehow, I woke up today in Bizarro World.

But if that isn’t proof enough, check this out.

(more…)

The Radical Ideaology of the Right

November 20, 2003 at 11:46 am
Contributed by:

Folks,

 

Like
me, you probably don’t know most of this material, which is loosely centered
around the current right-wing attack on reproductive rights. The degree to which
radical right-wing ideaology has taken control of the Republican Party is
breathtaking. This is not your father’s Republican Party. This isn’t even
conservative. It’s a radical agenda to turn our country into one based entirely
on religion, and legislated far-right morality. Consider a few of these choice
points:

 

– They
want to roll back the Constitution to its 1937 version.

 

– The
word “reproductive” and the phrase “reproductive rights” have been banned
from Title X and international rulings. The words “abortion” and “condoms” 
have been banned from USAID websites.

 

– “The
funding in three years has increased for Abstinence Only programs 100 percent,
and the Bush administration is seeking a $73 million increase for 2004, even
though there is no evidence whatsoever that it has any
effect.”

 


“2002 Bush named Tom Coburn, a former congressman, to co-chair the Presidential
Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS. He was renowned as an anti-condom activist.
And as a member of Congress his biggest campaign was to push the FDA to label
condoms as ineffective against the spread of sexually transmitted
diseases.”

 


Contrast that with these words of George H.W. Bush in 1969:

“We need to make population and family
planning household words. We need to take this sensationalism out of this topic
so that it can no longer be used by militants who have no real knowledge of the
voluntary nature of the program, but rather are using it as a political stepping
stone. If family planning is anything, it is a public health matter.”
~
George Herbert Walker Bush.

 


– “One
of the stranger sugar daddies of the far right, California billionaire savings
and loan heir Howard Ahmanson, who is as nutty and reclusive as Richard Mellon
Scaife, has financed these efforts. He is a follower of a sect called
“Reconstructionism,” that believes in replacing the Constitution with what it
calls “biblical law.” They believe that Christians should take “dominion over
American society,” and under “biblical law” the death penalty would be required
for dozens of new categories, including adultery, homosexuality, witches… the
next category includes someone in every family here—incorrigible children. And
they regard the teaching of evolution as a war against the Book of
Genesis.”

 

– In
its effort to pack the federal courts with far-right judicial nominees, the Bush
administration has put members of “a little-known but very influential group
called The Federalist Society…in charge of the selection process for nominees
for the federal bench. They have ruled out, and the president has agreed, not to
hear the recommendations of the American Bar Association.”

 

One
final word on where this is all coming from:

“This
radicalism involves seemingly fringe groups and the Bush White House, eccentric
billionaires with bizarre agendas and the leaders of the Republican Congress.
This radical strategy is concerted, well-organized, well-financed, aligned with
the most powerful political forces in the government.”

 

All we
need now is a couple dozen more George Soroses.

 

Read
all about it here:

 

Sidney Blumenthal’s address to Planned Parenthood of Austin,
TX

November 10, 2003
http://www.ppaustin.org/blumenthal/index.html

 

You
may also find this commentary interesting:

 

In the Battle for Pro-Choice Rights, Bush’s Texas is Ground Zero

BuzzFlash Guest Commentary
http://www.buzzflash.com/contributors/03/11/con03352.html

Thanks, as always, to the alert reader who submitted this article.

 

God
help us.

 

–C

 

One last plea to oppose the Energy Bill in Congress

November 20, 2003 at 10:49 am
Contributed by:

Folks,

 

If you
haven’t contacted your Senators yet and asked them to filibuster the Energy
Bill, please do so today. It will only take one minute of your time to
call them and make yourself heard. Remember, every call received by a Senator is
considered to represent the opinions of thousands.

 

Look
up your senators here: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/ 

Or
call the Capitol Switchboard and ask for your senators: 1-888-508-2974.

Or
just sign up with True Majority and submit your comments using their site, here:

http://action.truemajority.com/index.asp?action=10102

 

This
bill is cryingly bad. This Republican-controlled Congress has utterly
steamrolled over the interests of the people, the environment, our energy
security, and our health, in order to advance the interests and wealth of big
energy businesses. They’re rolling back key legislation that has protected us
and our environment for decades, including PUCHA, and contributing even more to
global warming and fossil fuel dependence. Not to mention billions in subsidies
for the coal, oil, gas, & nuclear industries. Special exemptions for Texas! Big pork barrel projects for New Mexico
(home of the conference committee chair, Pete Domenici)! These guys have
absolutely no shame, and this bill could hardly be any worse.

 

Read
the following summary, and weep:

 

Summary of the Energy Bill (H.R.6) by Coalition of Public
Interest Groups

http://www.citizen.org/cmep/energy_enviro_nuclear/electricity/energybill/2003/articles.cfm?ID=10716

 

For
more information on the Energy bill, click here:
www.citizen.org/cmep/energy_enviro_nuclear/electricity/energybill/2003/


To find out what states could do with
the subsidies that would go to giant energy companies under the proposed Energy
Bill, click here:
www.nationalpriorities.org/Issues/Energy/EnergyTaxBreaks.html


Please
take a minute of your time today to contact your Senators.

 

–C

Bush\’s SEC Chair Ignores Corporate Responsibility

November 19, 2003 at 9:26 am
Contributed by:



 

Folks,

 

Surprise, surprise: Bush’s
hand-picked wolf isn’t quite sure what happened to all those chickens. When will
this administration have anything more than lip service for these huge financial
scandals that have destroyed the wealth of so many Americans?

 

http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1307348&l=9351

November 19, 2003 | Daily Mislead
Archive

Bush’s SEC Chairman Negotiates Weak Settlement with Mutual Fund, Ignoring
Corporate ResponsibilityDespite President Bush’s strong support for
corporate accountability, the President’s hand-picked Securities and Exchange
Commission chairman, William Donaldson, is coming under fire for negotiating a
weak first settlement in the burgeoning mutual funds scandal with the nation’s
fifth-largest fund.

President Bush’s corporate responsibility bill,
signed into law in July 2002, was designed to address the wave of corporate
scandals that had impacted markets, beginning with Enron’s collapse in December
2001. “The fundamentals of a free market…require clear rules and confidence in
basic fairness.”1

The SEC settlement with Putnam Investments,
announced last week, prompted Massachusetts Commonwealth Secretary Bill Galvin
to say, “It’s clear that the SEC is more interested in papering over wrongdoing
than uncovering it.”2

Donaldson was nominated by President
Bush to take over for Harvey L. Pitt, who was forced to resign under pressure
for perceived close ties to the companies he was supposed to regulate. Bush said
as he nominated him, “Bill Donaldson will be a strong leader with a clear
mission, to vigorously enforce our nation’s laws against corporate corruption
and to uphold the highest standards of integrity in the securities
markets.”3

Earlier this summer, Donaldson talked about
improvements in corporate responsibility, saying, “I think that our actions
speak pretty loudly in terms of what we’ve done. … I think that there is a
confidence — a building [investor] confidence out there that the cop is on the
beat.”4

But Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby
said, “mutual fund abuses simply did not receive adequate attention from the
SEC.”5

Testifying before Shelby’s committee yesterday,
Donaldson reforms of mutual fund trading in the next few months.

The
President has not yet commented publicly on the growing scandal, which has thus
far forced the resignation of several executives with large mutual funds and
resulted in millions of dollars in fines.6

Sources:

  1. Bill Signing Ceremony, 7/30/02.
  2. “2 Mutual Funds Move to Assure Wary Investors,” New York Times,
    A1.
  3. Presidential Personnel Announcement, 12/10/02.
  4. Press Briefing with William Donaldson and Assistant Attorney
    General Larry Thompson
    , Whitehouse.gov, 7/22/03.
  5. SEC, Under Fire, Outlines New Fund Rules,” Reuters,
    11/18/03.
  6. Funds under the microscope,” MSNBC.com.


 

Do the American People Deserve Better?

November 18, 2003 at 5:18 am
Contributed by:

Folks,


I wrote this in response to a query from an alert reader, then decided to give it wider distribution.

–C

[Alert Reader, re: the Al Gore article] Yeah – it really saddens me that he couldn’t have been a straight shooter during the election – regardless if it was “close” – he should not have lost to that dumbshit. There really is no good reason he should not be president right now. He is so much more of a global thinker than Bush (of course any thinking at all is more than Bush).

I hope whomever runs for Pres in 2004 doesn’t try to do the political glad-hand game. Do you really think the American people deserve anything less than a straight shooter?

The American people deserve exactly what they get, for the most part. To invert Ben Franklin: those who will not fight for their liberty and security deserve neither. Shit, man, half of this country doesn’t even vote! I have lots of good, well educated, well heeled, liberals on my list who won’t even rise up out of their Laz-Z-Boys to write a damn letter to their Congressman. Yes, there is a good reason why Gore isn’t president right now: because the Republicans wanted it more. They fought for it. They poured money into it, organized like mad for decades, endowing university chairs, founding think tanks, making sure key positions on K Street got filled with their guys. In Florida, they placed their guys in key positions in the election machinery, purged the voter rolls, committed voter fraud, and got the Supreme Court to overreach its responsibility and intervene on their behalf. They worked for it


And you can bet that whoever wins the presidency next time will have to do the political glad-hand game. That’s how people get elected in this country. As much as I respect him, I think we’re in for trouble if Dean gets the nomination, because middle America isn’t going to vote for the angry guy.


Yes, I’d like us to have a straight shooter…please. But I don’t know if we deserve one. I believe we are complacent, inattentive, non-participatory, even downright lazy. Who among us is going to cover the Christian Coalition’s guys man-on-man while they’re out canvassing their neighborhoods and bringing out the vote? Who’s going to organize Democrats in Detroit and East LA? Will you make sure everybody that you know votes?


The fact is, power and money will always corrupt politics, and bend it to personal gain over the public good. And people will always be small-minded, selfish, and fearful of people who aren’t like them. Therefore the only hope for a just and plural world is one in which good people oppose those ever-present forces within our society, and within ourselves.


Here are a couple of choice quotes for ya:


“The world is a dangerous place to live;
not because of the people who are evil,
but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.
–Albert Einstein


Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
— Benjamin Franklin


“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
— Teddy Roosevelt


“Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.”
–Gore Vidal


“Think for yourselves and do not uncritically accept what you are told, and do what you can to make the world a better place, particularly for those who suffer and are oppressed.”
–Noam Chomsky


“…we don’t need perfect political systems; we need perfect participation.”
–Cesar Chavez


“Liberal wimpiness is the far-right’s best friend.”
–Eric Alterman


“It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to
the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is
eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the
consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.”
–John Philpot Curran: Speech upon the Right of Election, July 10, 1790


“Lethargy [is] the forerunner of death to the public liberty.”
–Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, 1787.


“We, I hope, shall adhere to our republican government and keep it to its
original principles by narrowly watching it.”
–Thomas Jefferson to ——, March 18, 1793. ME 9:45


“I do most anxiously wish to see the highest degrees of education given
to the higher degrees of genius and to all degrees of it, so much as may
enable them to read and understand what is going on in the world and to
keep their part of it going on right; for nothing can keep it right but
their own vigilant and distrustful superintendence.” –Thomas Jefferson
to Mann Page, 1795. ME 9:306


“I agree that something has to be done. One of us, Chris, needs to get into politics, Chris, and get used to rolling with the swine, Chris…So forget Europe.”
–James Hillhouse


Now call your Congressman, would ya?


–C

\"Hold On to Your Humanity\" – Letter to military forces in Iraq

November 17, 2003 at 5:29 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,


This is a very intense read, by Stan Goff, a retired Special Forces master sergeant, and the father of an active duty soldier. From a Vietnam vet, addressed to those stationed in Iraq, this is hard core, and worth your time.


Hold On to Your Humanity

by Stan Goff

t r u t h o u t | Letter

Saturday 15 November 2003




An Open Letter to GIs in Iraq


–C

Urgent: Stop the secret Bush-Cheney energy bill

November 17, 2003 at 3:56 pm
Contributed by: Chris

Folks,

Well, the energy bill has finally come up for a vote, and in typical style,
we’ve were given a mere 48 hours to look at it before the voting
begins–today! Unfortunately, it sounds like it’s even worse than I expected
it to be. So much for air, water, fuel efficiency, renewables, or for that
matter, even the lauded fuel cell initiative that Bush made such a big deal
about!

Please contact your Senators TODAY and ask them to filibuster this bill. The
below was generated for residents of California. If you’re outside of
California and need to look up your Senators, you can find them here:
http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/

–C

(more…)

Al Gore Speech on \’\’Freedom and Security\’\’

November 17, 2003 at 9:46 am
Contributed by:



Folks,

 

If you
would rather read this Gore speech than watch or listen to it, you may find a
transcript of it here:

http://truthout.org/docs_03/111103C.shtml

 

Thanks
to an alert reader for passing that on.

 

–C

 

—–Original Message—–
From: Chris Nelder
[mailto:chris.nelder@idiotwind.net]
Sent: Sunday, November 16, 2003
12:59 PM
To: Undisclosed Recipients
Subject: [GetRealList]:
Al Gore Speech on ”Freedom and Security”


Folks,

 

This recent speech by Al Gore is
outstanding. He continues to surprise with his strong, articulate response to
the Bush administration, especially on matters of civil liberty, and in his
opposition to the Patriot Act (being one of the few who’s actually read it).
Well worth watching.

 

PLAYFmr.
Vice Pres. Al Gore Policy Speech on ”Freedom
and Security”
At an event co-sponsored by MoveOn.org & The American
Constitution Society for Law and Policy, Fmr. V.P. Al Gore speaks on “Freedom and
Security.”
11/9/2003: WASHINGTON, DC: 1 hr. 10
min.: C-SPAN

 

(From http://www.c-span.org/Search/basic.asp?BasicQueryText=gore&SortBy=date)

 

–C

Iraq: learning from the British experience

November 17, 2003 at 9:43 am
Contributed by:



Folks,

 

Here’s
an interesting, short article about the British experience of invading Iraq in
1920, which certainly has some bearing on our current experience over there.

 

–C

 

—–Original Message—–


From a British tabloid:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/11/16/wchop216.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/11/16/ixnewstop.html

Saddam
or not, they just don’t want us there 

by BBC’s World Affairs Editor, John Simpson

(Filed:
16/11/2003)

The
parallels between the recent US action against Iraq and the British invasion in
1920 are disturbingly close, but nobody seems to have noticed, writes John
Simpson

The greatest
military power on earth marched into Iraq, utterly confident that the Iraqi
people would welcome it. Within weeks, a major uprising had begun and it was
forced to start negotiating a way out. Not the Americans in 2003, but the
British in 1920. The parallels are disturbingly close, and seem mostly to have
gone unnoticed.

At the end of the First World War Britain, brimming with
over-confidence, twisted the arm of the League of Nations to give it a mandate
over territory carved from the Turkish empire and called “Iraq”. The British
wanted the new country’s oil, and they assumed that everybody there wanted to be
governed by them.

With remarkable speed, the British Mandate officials
realised that it wasn’t going to work, and that they would have to set up a
government of Iraqis which they could hand the country over to: the first
example – apart from America itself, of course – of a British possession
achieving full independence.

The uprising against them affected every
part of Iraq. One hundred thousand people died, and the British only managed to
hang on to power by rushing in the Indian army.

As the rebellion
continued for several years, the British were sometimes disgustingly brutal.
Winston Churchill advised the RAF to bomb recalcitrant Kurdish villages with
poison gas, which it duly did; thereby establishing a dubious historical
precedent.

Iraq eventually achieved full independence in 1932. Its
educational system, its roads, its communications all gained remarkably as a
result of the 12-year British presence, but the British themselves were not
wanted. The one thing that the Iraqis share is a stubborn sense of pride in
themselves, and a dislike of being pushed around by outsiders.

Donald
Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, and Paul Wolfowitz, his deputy at the
Pentagon, allowed themselves to suggest that most Iraqis were longing for the
arrival of American troops and the creation of an American link. Not
so.

In 1920 there was, of course, no Saddam Hussein figure. This is the
second war in two years which the Americans have fought against a personalised
enemy, without managing to catch either of them.

A year ago we were
assured in some over-credulous newspaper and magazine articles that Osama bin
Laden was unquestionably dead; last month the CIA said that the latest tape from
him, condemning the goings-on in Iraq, was probably genuine.

Now that
President Bush has done his U-turn and decided to hand over to an Iraqi
administration sooner rather than later, the appalling possibility exists that
the Americans will do a runner while leaving Saddam in a position to influence
things still.

But where is he? Combining information from several
well-informed sources, I think we can venture the following: he is in the desert
to the west or north-west of Baghdad, within striking reach of the Jordanian and
Syrian borders, and is being protected by the Bedouin tribes that he cultivated
so assiduously while he was in power.

This is a vast area, with only four
or five roads crossing it. Any force of armoured vehicles or helicopters setting
out to get him would be spotted long before it arrived.

In case of
attack, he probably has the option of hiding in a small underground bunker which
was built during the 1990s. The architect who designed it and the labourers who
built it will all have been disposed of afterwards, Mafia-style, and only Saddam
and perhaps two or three of his closest associates will know where it
is.

It will be stocked with enough supplies to keep them going for years,
together – we can be sure – with a short-wave radio set. Saddam has always been
an assiduous listener and viewer of the BBC; as I found to my own cost before
this last war started.

So is he masterminding the campaign against the
American presence? Probably not; after all, like Osama bin Laden, his one great
strategic advantage is that he is still alive and uncaught, and if he is
constantly meeting people in the underground movement, he’ll be betrayed at some
point. It is much more likely that his deputy, Izzat Ibrahim, controls the
resistance from his hiding-place in eastern Syria.

Most of the resistance
is instinctive rather than organised, and much of it isn’t even pro-Saddam. It’s
just that, as in 1920, large numbers of Iraqis want to be left alone.

If
Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz had done a little light historical reading
beforehand, they might have thought twice about following exactly what the
British did, 83 years before.

John Simpson is the BBC’s World
Affairs Editor

The New Anti-Semitism

November 16, 2003 at 7:21 pm
Contributed by:

Folks,

 

For those of you who aren’t Jews,
this cover story from the current (Nov/Dec 2003) issue of Tikkun Magazine is excellent reading. You could
also call it “Anti-Semitism for Dummies” or “What’s the Deal with that
Israeli-Palenstinian Conflict, Anyway?” I wish I’d read it a long time ago; it
would have made many world events easier for me to understand. And for those of
you who are Jews, you’ll probably find it worthwhile as well, as it’s really a
very balanced and fair-handed look at the problems of Anti-Semitism in general.


The New
Anti-Semitism
http://www.tikkun.org/magazine/index.cfm/action/tikkun/issue/tik0311/article/031111a.html
by Miriam Greenspan

I thought it very interesting that much
of this article can just as easily be applied to other current events, for
regardless of the details, injustice is injustice, propaganda is propaganda, and
hatred is hatred, wherever and however it is practiced. Here are two choice
paragraphs, which I thought were equally, if not even more so, illuminating when
applied to some of our other current problems. 


Consider this paragraph in light of the
recent debate about the supposed “hatred” that the Left has toward Bush:


It is fashionable in certain political circles to justify and legitimate
hatred as a rational response to oppression and injustice. The psychiatrist
Willard Gaylin devotes his study, Hatred: the Psychological Descent into
Violence
, to dispelling this idea. He makes a critical distinction between
hatred and justified anger or rage. A group can oppose injustice without
resorting to hatred. As Gaylin defines it, hatred is more than an emotion; it is
a form of delusional thinking that demonizes an Enemy. It is the sick glue that
binds the hater to the object of his hatred. The desperation in the Palestinian
camps does not explain or justify acts of terrorism committed by Palestinians,
says Gaylin, because hatred is not a rational emotion, or a viable political
program. Hatred is a social disease, and it is highly contagious: “I have heard
many say, in defense of Palestinian hatred, that after generations of being kept
in squalid refugee camps … feeling frustrated and humiliated by the exercise of
Israeli power, Palestinians are “entitled” to their hatred. This is a sad
misunderstanding of the nature of hatred. Hatred is not an entitlement like
health care. It is a disease (that) may infect others, but it inevitably
destroys the hater, diminishing his humanity and perverting the purpose and
promise of life itself. No one is entitled to hatred any more than he is
entitled to cancer.”

Now think about this one with
respect to the US’s “War on Terrorism”:


While hatred may be a perennial human pathology, it doesn’t come naturally.
It has to be taught. In War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning,
Chris Hedges argues that “ancient hatreds” don’t generally explode of their own
accord. They need the drums of war to goad them on. These drums are beaten by
leaders on both sides, who foment hatred to justify war. Even the seemingly most
intransigent ethnic and religious conflicts (like that amongst the Croats,
Serbs, and Muslims in the former Yugoslavia), are actually manufactured wars,
fed by nationalist propaganda. Wars require lies and myths. The Zionist and
Palestinian myths have promulgated years of increasing mistrust and hatred, not
because Palestinians are inherently more anti-Semitic than any other people, nor
because Jewish settlers are inherently more racist. The war between Israel and
Palestine has been goaded by leaders on both sides who are tragically
short-sighted, or worse, corrupt and morally bankrupt. “Nationalist
triumphalism,” as Chris Hedges refers to it, egged on by these leaders, is a
plague that easily lends itself to the “collective psychosis” of war. Both
Sharon and Arafat are war criminals who have cynically manipulated the intense
nationalisms of their people into a long war that has accomplished nothing but
to escalate the hatred, killing, and “psychosis” on both sides. “War gives a
justification to what is often nothing more than gross human cruelty and
stupidity,” says Hedges. “It allows us to believe we have achieved our place in
human society because of a long chain of heroic endeavors, rather than accept
the sad reality that we stumble along a dimly lit corridor of disasters.”


“Nationalist triumphalism” indeed. We
certainly dished up a huge portion of that along with our attack on Iraq, an
enemy that was so weak and powerless, it was shameful to attack them.
Interesting isn’t it? Wherever you go, whoever you are, it’s the same old, same
old.


–C


 

WH Admits Pre-9/11 Warnings; Bush Still Denies It

November 16, 2003 at 10:50 am
Contributed by:

Folks,

For those of you keeping track of Bush’s word parsings and lies–oops, I
mean, “misleadings, misunderstandings, mischaracterizations,
overstatements”–try this one on for size: the president’s pre-9/11 warning
was actually “not a warning.” I guess it depends on what the meaning of
“warning” is.

–C

—–Original Message—–
From: The Daily Mislead [mailto:latest@daily.misleader.org]
Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2003 10:34 AM
Subject: WH Admits Pre-9/11 Warnings; Bush Still Denies It

===============================
THE DAILY MIS-LEAD
http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1307348&l=12259
===============================

WHITE HOUSE ADMITS PRE-9/11 WARNINGS; BUSH STILL DENIES IT

At his press conference yesterday, President Bush was asked about charges
that he had received warnings prior to the September 11th attacks that a
terrorist incident was imminent. He answered that even asking such a
question was “an absurd insinuation.” It was the same sentiment expressed by
Bush’s National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who said in May of 2002
that “[no one predicted] that they would try to use an airplane as a
missile, a hijacked airplane.”

The problem for the president and the administration is that the White House
has previously admitted that the president had personally received such
specific warnings. As ABC News reported in May of 2002, “White House
officials acknowledge that U.S. intelligence officials informed President
Bush weeks before the September 11th attacks that Osama bin Laden’s
terrorist network might try to hijack American planes.” As Condoleezza Rice
said at a hastily called press conference to spin these revelations, the
President specifically received an “analytic report” on August 6th, 2001 at
his Crawford mansion that “talked about Osama bin Laden’s methods of
operation” and “mentioned hijacking.” According to Reuters, that report was
congruent with “intelligence since 1998 that said followers of bin Laden
were planning to strike U.S. targets, hijack U.S. planes.”.

While the administration claims that the president’s pre-9/11 warning was
actually “not a warning,” the threat was specific enough for Attorney
General John Ashcroft to stop flying commercial airlines. While no warning
was issued for the general public after Bush’s personal intelligence
warning, Ashcroft was flying exclusively by leased jet instead of commercial
airlines because of an official “threat assessment by the FBI.”

Read the Mis-Lead –>
http://daily.misleader.org/ctt.asp?u=1307348&l=12260

===========================================================

Subscribe to the Daily Mislead! Go to http://www.misleader.org and enter
your e-mail address in the “Receive the Daily Mislead” box in the
top-left corner of the page.

A Saudi-Israeli Deal

November 13, 2003 at 9:38 pm
Contributed by:



Folks,

This short article has
some salient thinking about how the problems of Saudi Arabia and Israel are
inextricably linked, and speaks volumes about what that means for the US and its
ambitions.

–C


The New York Times


http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/13/opinion/13FRIE.html?pagewanted=print


November 13, 2003
A Saudi-Israeli Deal

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN



Reading the latest poll from the European Union, which indicates that 59
percent of E.U. citizens now consider Israel the greatest “threat to world
peace,” reading reports that Mikis Theodorakis, the composer of “Zorba the
Greek,” has opined that Jews are “the root of evil,” and observing the latest
bombing in Saudi Arabia by Islamist fanatics, the following heretical thought
comes to mind: The keepers of the Muslim holy places and the keepers of the
Jewish holy places really need each other today.


Israel can’t solve the problem of rising anti-Semitism
without the help of the Saudi ruling family, and the Saudis can’t buy the time
they need for gradual political and economic reform at home without the help of
Israel. Yes, the House of Saud and the House of Sharon really do need each
other. Too bad neither can see that.


Let’s start with the House of Saud. What ails the Saudi
monarchy is a soaring population; dwindling per-capita oil income; schools that
stress religious teachings over science, math and literature; a ruling family
with 5,000 useless princes feeding at the trough; and an aging, divided
leadership. Together, all this has spawned two grass-roots
challenges.


The most obvious is from Osama bin Laden. One could
easily do a revisionist history of 9/11 and show how it was simply the opening
salvo in an attempted coup within Saudi Arabia — with the attack on America
meant only as a bank shot to undermine one of the main supports of the Saudi
ruling family. Last week’s Riyadh bombing was just the latest episode in this
civil war, involving hard-core Islamists out to overthrow the
moderate/Westernized/indulgent Saudi elite. The fact that these murderous
militants have to kill innocent Saudis to draw attention suggests that they can
only create mayhem, not a movement with any mass following.


But the other challenge is more serious and legitimate.
It comes from frustrated, claustrophobic, jobless Saudi youth and a voiceless
middle class that resents the excesses of the ruling family. They are now
clamoring for more participation and political reform and have challenged the
regime with petitions and spontaneous demonstrations.


“The only hope for the Saudi ruling family, for long-term
survival, is to deliver on two key sources of legitimacy: a rising standard of
living and the Palestine question,” argues the Middle East expert Stephen P.
Cohen. “Improving standards of living requires gradual political and economic
reforms to transform the Saudi education system and society so it delivers for
more young people. That will take time.”


But to buy time for economics, adds Mr. Cohen, the Saudis
need to deliver on emotions “by helping to bring about a dignified solution to
the Palestine problem, which returns the mosques of Jerusalem to Muslim control.
. . . Some 26 years ago Anwar Sadat responded to the food riots in Egypt by
going to Jerusalem to make peace with Israel. In doing so he bought his
successor 26 years to deal with Egypt’s economic problems. Crown Prince Abdullah
needs to forge his own breakthrough for the same reasons.” In short, to buy the
time to deal with the people’s economic aspirations, the Saudis need to deliver
on their political aspirations, from Palestine to participation.


Where the Israelis need the Saudis is in combating the
rising tide of anti-Semitism. This new anti-Semitism is a witches’ brew of
Muslim rage — nurtured in madrasas and mosques financed by Saudi money — and
classic European hatred fed by a new anti-Israel anti-Semitism. Both are fanned
by a European press that increasingly reads like the worst Arab press, and
abetted by the real images of Israeli settlers seizing Palestinian land and
uprooting their olive groves.


The way to reduce these fires — which will only worsen
with the growth of Muslim populations in Europe — is by forging a solution to
the Palestine issue along the lines of the Clinton plan. Nothing would do more
to extinguish this new anti-Semitism than an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal —
followed by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, the custodian of Mecca and Medina,
carrying out his promise to normalize relations with Israel once such an accord
is reached.


Unfortunately, right now both the House of Saud and the
House of Sharon prefer to buy time by relying on police rather than political
initiatives. In the long run, this won’t work. Both need to take on their
Wahhabis: the Muslim Wahhabi extremists who are choking Saudi Arabia’s future
and the Jewish Wahhabi settlers who are doing the same to
Israel.  


Copyright
2003
 The New York Times
Company
| Home | Privacy
Policy
| Search | Corrections | Help | Back
to Top


Page 1 of 3123


Copyright © 2008 GetRealList
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners.
FAIR USE NOTICE