Tag Archive | "Rocky Anderson"

Third Party Candidates in Final Debate

Beyond the presidential debates there’s a whole other world of third party candidates like Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein.

Critics have called the Romney-Obama debates as narrow as they were shallow, but few have done more to try to broaden and deeper the national discussion than Amy Goodman and the Democracy NOW!  team, who have produced their “Expanding the Debate” series with third party candidates added to the pair anointed by the two parties’ debate commission.

For the final debate October 22, Democracy NOW! went on the air in front of a live audience at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center in San Rafael, California, pausing the debate in progress to allow comments by two third-party presidential candidates who were excluded from the official debate: Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice PartyLibertarian candidate Gary Johnson was invited, but he declined.

The first question at the Florida debate purported to be about “Libya,” but was really about the September 11 events in Benghazi and their aftermath, as Bob Schieffer asked it: “What happened? What caused it? Was it spontaneous? Was it an intelligence failure? Was it a policy failure?”  Neither candidate responded directly to the question as Gov. Romney mentioned Libya as well as Syria, Egypt, Mali and Iran, while President Obama said in passing, “your strategy previously has been one that has been all over the map….”

Jill Stein, having audio problems at the start, did not answer the question either, but said in part:  “…it’s very clear that there is blowback going on now across the Middle East….  in many ways, we’re seeing a very ill-conceived, irresponsible and immoral war policy come back to haunt us, where United States foreign policies have been based, unfortunately, on brute military force and wars for oil. Under my administration, we will have a foreign policy based on international law and human rights and the use of diplomacy. And instead of fighting wars for oil, we will be leading—as America, we will be leading the fight to put an end to climate change.”

Rocky Anderson said in part: “The question was whether the killings at the embassy in Libya… reflected a policy failure. And it is so clear to everyone that the policy failure has been in the way the United States has treated so many nations in the Middle East….  We invaded Iraq and occupied that country. It was completely illegal. Two United Nations secretaries-general declared that it was illegal. It was a war of aggression, and it was all done on a pack of lies. Now, we aggravate the situation by keeping bases in so many other nations,… engaging in direct, unmanned drone strikes in at least four sovereign nations, killing, in the process, hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent men, women and children. That is the policy failure: our belligerence, our efforts to control, to dominate and to make certain that we will always have that control over the resources in these nations.”

The second question asked by Schieffer was about Syria:  “30,000 Syrians have died. We’ve had 300,000 refugees. The war goes on. [Assad is] still there.  Should we reassess our policy and see if we can find a better way to influence events there? Or is that even possible?”

President Obama, in effect, said “No.”Gov. Romney said, with creative geography, that: “Syria is an opportunity for us, because Syria plays an important role in the Middle East, particularly right now. Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea….  [But] we don’t want to have military involvement there.”  In a round about way he went on to say, in effect, he’d pretty much follow the President’s policy.

Rocky Anderson responded: “ We probably just heard the greatest example of why we need to open up these presidential debates, because the premises under which both of these candidates are operating…. We hear President Obama say we’ve got to do everything we can to help the opposition, and Mitt Romney is saying we ought to be shipping them heavy arms. This is a call for a bloodbath in Syria….  you’re not going to get any democratic advances through more violence in Syria.”

Jill Stein said:  Yes, and it’s as if there’s collective amnesia here, as if we didn’t just go through a decade, $5 trillion and thousands of U.S. soldiers whose lives have been sacrificed, and far more civilians whose lives have been lost, in an attempted military resolution to these civil and religious strife….  we have not, with all the power of that force, been able to resolve these conflicts on the ground in Iraq and in Afghanistan. So, how in the world… are they thinking that a lesser degree of military intervention is going to solve the problem?

Rocky Anderson: “I don’t think that the problem here is that we failed. I think the problem is that we’re trying to assert our will and dictate the result. Can you imagine if there were Muslim countries coming into the United States and occupying us, invading us, telling us how—where to run our government and then running unmanned drones over Canada, Mexico, the United States, determining who is going to live and who’s going to die?… It’s an outrage. And our national security is at risk long-term, because of the hostility and hatred that we’re generating throughout that part of the world.”

Jill Stein:  “Absolutely. And… with arms flowing in to both sides in Syria, you have really a catastrophe in the making. We need to stop the flow of the arms….  the United States and the Obama government, in fact, undermined an international treaty that would have begun to slow down the international flow of arms. So the American role here has actually been to throw gasoline on the fires of virtually every ethnic, religious and national conflict around the Middle East….”

The next question from Bob Schieffer related to Israel and Iran:  “Would either of you be willing to declare that an attack on Israel is an attack on the United States?” Neither candidate made such a statement, though both tiptoed close to it. President Obama said, “I will stand with Israel if they are attacked” and Gov. Romney added, “I want to underscore the same point the president made, which is that if I’m president of the United States… we will stand with Israel. And if Israel is attacked, we have their back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily.”

The President also said of Iran, “And they have said that they want to see Israel wiped off the map.”  This is a false statement, but it has also appeared on the Iranian President’s website in English.

Rocky Anderson:  “This is so predictable. Once again, President Obama repeats the lie that President Ahmadinejad in Iran stated that he wanted to wipe Israel off the map. He never said it…. It was a misinterpretation, and it is so warmongering of both of these candidates to talk about how they will basically blow Iran away.

Romney wants to impose crippling sanctions. Who would he be crippling? He’d be crippling, among others, some of the hundreds of thousands of people who stood in Tehran in a candlelight vigil in sympathy for the victims of the 9/11 attacks on the United States….  it’s the United States who has led the way for other nations to build up their nuclear armaments. And if Iran feels like they’re going to be attacked—and that’s all they’re hearing nowadays—of course they’re going to consider building a nuclear capability to deter an attack.”

Jill Stein:  And here again, we’re seeing the candidates very similar to each other. They’re both saber-rattling about Iran. They’re both vowing their obedience to the right-wing government in Israel. And they are both saying that they will stop at nothing, but that war will be the last resort…. In fact, Iran recently hosted the non-aligned nations… all the non-aligned nations —Brazil and Argentina and many others—that together put forward a proposal for eliminating nuclear weapons throughout the Middle East and, in fact, eliminating nuclear weapons throughout the world. That is the true solution that we should be getting behind…. this slave-like mentality towards Israel is absolutely unjustified. We need to start raising the bar for Israel and holding them to an equal standard for supporting human rights and international law and ending occupations and illegal settlements and apartheid.

Bob Schieffer’s next question addressed the U.S. military budget:  “Governor, you say you want a bigger military….  Where are you going to get the money?”   The Governor did not answer the question.   The President rambled around the question, noting at one point that “our military spending has gone up every single year that I’ve been in office. We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined—China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, you name it, next 10.”

Jill Stein: “We cannot continue spending a trillion dollars a year on this bloated military-industrial-security complex without having to really pay the price here at home…. We are spending trillions every year not only on the bloated military budget, but on the wars for oil as part of that, as well as the bailouts for Wall Street and tax breaks for the very wealthy….  It’s time to be breaking up the big banks and bailing out the students instead….  Likewise, we are squandering trillions of dollars over the coming decade on a massive, wasteful private health insurance bureaucracy. And the alternative to austerity is actually moving to a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system, which makes austerity unnecessary. So, in fact, by moving to a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system, we get a system that people are happy with, that they love and want to defend from government tampering, in fact, and that system covers everyone comprehensively, puts you back in charge of your healthcare, and, in addition, it actually saves us trillions over the coming decade….by conserving those dollars instead of squandering them, we can actually spend them on the things that we need, on bailing out the students and on creating public higher education, which is free, tuition-free, the way that it should be.”

Rocky Anderson:  “Well, we’ve heard another great example of how the Republican and Democratic candidates for president, just like their cohorts in Congress, are basically one and the same in terms of their corporatism and their militarism. It’s just a matter of degree. Anderson then described the military-industrial-congressional complex that puts defense contractors in as many districts as possible to get votes in Congress, saying: “That is treasonous conduct, when people are looking out for their own political interests and hammering the American people, especially when there are so many unmet needs in this country….  Now, in terms of jobs, our employers in this country are at a huge competitive disadvantage with their competitors overseas, because we are the only nation in the entire developed world that doesn’t provide insurance coverage for everyone, and we’re paying more than twice the average of the rest of the industrialized world. And we’re getting far worse medical outcomes. More than 70 percent of the American people and the majority of doctors during the healthcare debate said they wanted to see a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system in place. And this president wouldn’t even let the proposal see the light of day, because he, like the rest of the members in Congress, with the exception of a handful,… caved in to the for-profit insurance industry and the pharmaceutical companies. And once again, we end up getting shafted, the American people, again.”

These excerpts come from the Democracy NOW! one-hour broadcast of October 23.  The full debate, three-and-a-half hours with all four candidates is on the www.democracynow.org website.

Posted in News

Rocky Anderson for President!

Former Mayor of Salt Lake City Rocky Anderson is running for president on the Justice Party. This guy is the real deal, an outspoken progressive who pushes to end unjust wars, stop money corrupting politics, provide real health care for all, and to break the “stranglehold on our government by the military-industrial complex.”

That a genuine radical like Anderson got to be mayor of Salt Lake City is a testament to his political skills and his ability to explain his point of view clearly. I think people respect that. He left the Mormon Church and still became mayor of SLC, which says quite a lot about the good judgment of the voters in SLC to know a good candidate when they see one.

Wikipedia explains

Anderson is not a Mormon, but was raised as a Mormon, and was a practicing member of that predominant religion in Logan, but he has described his disagreement with certain doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ, particularly the denial, before 1978, of the priesthood and, therefore, temple ceremonies to men of black skin color. Anderson also expresses disagreement with what he describes as the L.D.S. teaching of personal moral abdication through obedience to people in positions of authority. Anderson deeply believes in the principle of personal conscience and individual accountability, and considers what he sees as a call for blind obedience as contrary thereto.

Now check out his response to Tom Hayden’s article telling people to vote for Obama.

Tom Hayden recently wrote an article imploring people to support President Obama. Someone wrote to Rocky, forwarding the Hayden article, urging Rocky to give up the fight. Imagine there not being a voice like Rocky’s at this moment in our nation’s history! Here is Rocky’s response:

Dear ______ -

I read Tom Hayden’s piece several days ago and think it is so beneath him — particularly the “white liberal-left” and “white blindness” racist condescensions. There are, of course, many in the Black community who are justifiably appalled at Obama’s performance (or lack thereof). See here and here. If Hayden wants to make this about race, perhaps he should focus on the fact that, after four years of Obama, far more Blacks are living in poverty and four times as many Black women in the U.S. are dying in connection with pregnancy and childbirth than White women.

Hayden never would have written such an apologist piece for an imperial militarist and corporatist regime in the ’60s or ’70s. Can you imagine such a piece by him then, gushingly endorsing Nixon because of his overtures to China, his signing of the Clean Air Act, and his establishment of the EPA?

Amazingly, he writes as if he is clueless about Obama’s miserable performance regarding climate change and energy — and the fact that tuition rates have skyrocketed under his administration. He worries in the first paragraph of his piece about what Romney would or wouldn’t do regarding these issues — as if Obama hasn’t made it all far worse.

And doesn’t it occur to Hayden that the reason so many Americans are misinformed is because our President is such a lousy leader/communicator? (Why else would “only six percent of Americans believe[ ] the stimulus had created any jobs”?)

We could have had a single-payer Medicare-for-all health care system had Obama stood up against the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Even with the vast majority of the American people favoring single-payer at the time, our President wouldn’t even let it see the light of day — then rapidly and cowardly abandoned a public option.

I’ve described my “strategic” thinking to you before. You know full well that I am campaigning to help encourage and inspire a broad-based people’s movement — the only way we’ll ever achieve real social, economic, and environmental justice in this nation. You apparently think it healthy for everyone just to shut up and be polite in the face of the Obama administration outrages. Amazing for someone who writes and teaches about the virtues of citizen engagement. Truly amazing.

Apparently you just don’t want to face your utter complicity in the outrages of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party. You would like to see everyone just get in line and be quiet about illegal wars of aggression, the abandonment of the rule of law, the shredding of due process and habeas corpus, the abysmal health care system that causes the deaths of thousands of poor and middle class people (particularly people of color) every week, and the caving in to Wall St. campaign contributors at the vast expense of most people in the U.S. (and abroad).

Would you have imagined four years ago that you would be a cheerleader for a president who brags about his personal participation in deciding who will be killed in several nations, knowing that hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent men, women, and children will be killed too? And does it ever occur to you why so many so-called “terrorists” despise the U.S. and want to strike out against us? Or that we’re creating more enemies and instilling more hatred and hostility toward the U.S. as a result of our disregard of so many nations’ sovereignty and as we kill and maim people throughout the Muslim world with such reckless abandon? (I wrote this before the recent killings of the U.S. Ambassador and three other diplomats in Libya and the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo — further evidence of the hatred we have generated by our international belligerence.)

Would you ever have imagined you would so enthusiastically support a president who orders that U.S. citizens be assassinated? (So far, at least three U.S. citizens have been killed by drones — one of whom was a 16 year-old boy.) Would you have imagined you would support a president who asked for, and signed into law, the authority to kidnap people anywhere (including U.S. citizens) and have them imprisoned up to the rest of their lives, without charges, trial, legal assistance, or the right of habeas corpus? (Imagine what you’d be doing and writing were that same president a Republican. The crass partisanship, instead of principle, that causes so many Democrats to blindly support this president is morally astounding.)

Damn straight I’m angry — and disgusted. Please read Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, an allegory about the rise of fascism in Europe. Whenever you write lately, I hear you “harumphing” and can imagine that horn growing from your forehead. In a decade, you can be really proud of your refusal to stand up in opposition to the march toward authoritarianism, the capitulation of our government to Wall Street, and the gross violations of civil and human rights.

It’s just amazing how “pragmatists” like you are selling out so conveniently, as our Constitution is being shredded and as our nation continues to cause so much misery in the lives of millions of people around the world. And as the administration persecutes and prosecutes those who inform us about government crimes and other misdeeds, while allowing the criminals to go free.

Please feel free to distribute this as you see fit. (I’ll do the same.) As I mentioned to you when you were in SLC, I’d love to debate you any time and any place about all of this. You and others need to be shaken into understanding what your blind obsequiousness is doing to our nation and world.

Hayden and you are so optimistic about what you can push Obama to do during the next four years. (It all reminds me of abused spouse syndrome.) Where have all of you been during the past four years to push Obama to bring war criminals to justice? To bring those who have illegally spied on U.S. citizens to justice? (It’s worth noting that you supported Obama four years ago after he lied to us as a U.S. Senator and voted to grant retroactive immunity to telecommunication companies that had committed federal felonies by providing the Bush administration with confidential information about their customers.) To end the drone killings of innocent people? To break up the too-big-to-fail banks and regulate Wall St. to protect the American people (and millions of others throughout the world) from another financial melt-down? To combat, rather than exacerbate, climate change? To end the disastrous “war on drugs”? To reduce, rather than continue to increase, the world-record incarceration rate, particularly of people of color? To provide decent health care to all Americans? To end poverty, rather than sit back and support a president who never speaks of it and who has “led” this nation while the poverty rate has increased to 1965 levels (and while our child-poverty rate is the worst in the industrialized world, except for Romania)? Are you aware of his pitiful record on presidential pardons? Or the fact that maternal and infant mortality rates are almost the worst in the developed world? Are you aware that he perpetuated yet another big lie in his embarrassingly sycophantic speech to AIPAC about Ahmadinejad supposedly saying (he never did say it) that Israel should be wiped off the map?

Obama’s not a statesman, nor is he a “leader”. He is a prostitute for the rich and powerful — and has betrayed, with tragic results, the sacred trust placed in him by the American people. The greatest problem we face is that too many, like you, seem to have no line you will draw. Are no crimes too great, is there no undermining of the rule of law too egregious, for you to refrain from saying “No more”?

Posted in News

The most important issue this presidential election? It’s not a single “issue” at all

In the streets of Manhattan, during a weekend in late September, the faces of steel and concrete behemoths staring down at me, I quickly weaved my way through stopped cars.  I moved with several thousand others.  A collective elation filled the air, surrounding us as we sped forward.  Cars honked in support, cab drivers flashed peace signs.  Our signs read, “I can’t afford a lobbyist,” and, “We are the 99 percent.”  We chanted, “How do you end the deficit?  End the wars, tax the rich,” and, “Whose streets?  Our streets!”  And with genuine surprise and delight I knew, I saw, I felt that we really had taken – for that moment of that day – these streets in New York City.

That day in late September I was among the participants in one of Occupy Wall Street’s early marches.  It was the first I know of during which, even with an absurdly large police presence, we walked and ran and danced off from the sidewalks onto the streets.  Now, after being apprehended in a mass arrest later that day and sleeping on Wall Street and organizing at my college and watching hundreds of camps get evicted and truly feeling and knowing and acting on solidarity, everyone is wondering where the Occupy movement will go from here.  As just a single person in the infinitely large mosaic of people and ideas and creations and action that makes up the movement, of course I can’t answer that anywhere close to fully.  But there exists an undeniable reality of heightened awareness and vocalization among the American public of one issue which affects everyone here and all people around the world:  the seizure of political and economic power by a tiny elite.

This will be the most important issue in the upcoming presidential election.  It will be the most important issue of this generation.  It is the most important issue currently facing humanity, precisely because it is not just another “issue.”  There is no place where a separation can be made between the top-heavy accumulation of power in our society and industry’s destruction of the environment or poverty in the United States and abroad or immigration or unemployment.  When several hundred people control as much of the resources and political representation of a nation as several hundred million, decisions in places ranging from the boardroom to local government to the White House to the classroom to the police department will inevitably favor that small, powerful group.  Nearly every decision a president must make is affected by this corporate hijacking of our society.  Whether it’s Barack Obama or Mitt Romney or Ron Paul or Rocky Anderson or Jill Stein or Gary Johnson or whoever in office, they will all face incredible pressure at every turn from powerful interests pushing them to make decisions not for the public good, but for the good of the profits of corporations, profits which will undoubtedly go into the pockets of executives rather than workers.

How will each of these candidates react to the opposing forces of calcification of corporate, wealth-driven power and organized popular resistance to the gutting of American society?  As more people wake up and react to their position in the eyes of an increasingly powerful elite as disposable units in the globalized capitalist machine, how will presidential candidates react to being part of this dynamic which is so much greater than any one of them?  Popular opposition to a top-down society is already influencing the presidential election.

Barack Obama’s rhetoric certainly has a populist tone to it these days, but words are cheap.  At the same time that he invoked Teddy Roosevelt, Obama sought to undermine Social Security, one of the fundamental social safety net programs in this country.  Ron Paul and the newly Libertarian Gary Johnson, on the other hand, provide adequate solutions to some of the symptoms of this greater problem.  Both are opposed to the race-driven drug war and the military-industrial complex and the empire which sustains it.  They are even opposed to our modern “crony capitalism,” and in my eyes they are certainly better choices than any of the offerings of the major parties, yet their libertarian ideologies encourage corporate greed and power in some nasty ways.  Actual solutions, or at least the first steps toward actual solutions, to our systematic socioeconomic inequality are present in the campaigns of the Green Party’s Jill Stein and the Justice Party’s Rocky Anderson.  Stein’s campaign is centered on the idea of a “Green New Deal,” providing employment and a fair, democratic redistribution of wealth while jump-starting American environmental efforts.  Anderson, the former mayor of Salt Lake City, recently formed the Justice Party and the central theme of his candidacy is, in his words, “to change the system and get the corrupting influence of corporate and other concentrated wealth out of our electoral system and out of our system of governance.”

It is truly exciting to see candidates so adamantly opposed to the corrupt status quo.  Yet no single candidacy and no single presidency and no government at all can sufficiently address this issue of power and wealth inequality.  I’m coming to believe that the only way to work out all of these problems is the messy, exhausting, unpolished democratic processes we’ve seen at work in the Occupy movement.  As they continue to flourish in the various situations where they’ve been tried so far, ideas will grow into organizing which will bloom into action which will ripen into sustained democratic solutions to our problems.  And as those continue, as they affect many people in countless places, the seeds of new ideas to sustain and reinvigorate this process when it falters will be planted.  At Liberty Plaza in Manhattan, as well as in many other cities, food and information distribution systems were designed and implemented in a highly democratic fashion as they were needed.  Similar systems were established so that the Occupy community could use monetary and other resources, and consensus-based general assemblies are used to plan actions and make innumerable other decisions.  Any person who so desires can address an assembly, and anyone who feels it necessary can block a group decision.  It is a radical experiment in democracy and empowerment of the majority, rather than an elite few.  The spirit of collective will and mutual responsibility and communal fulfillment embodied in this process offers more hope in the face of a bleak future dominated by globalized corporate power, war, and ecological collapse than any candidate ever could.

This blog entry is part of a scholarship contest:  “This is an official blog entry for the YourLocalSecurity.com Blogging Scholarship. If selected, I’ll receive $1000 towards my college expenses in 2012. This scholarship is sponsored by YourLocalSecurity.com

Posted in corporatism, Politics

Rocky Anderson and the Justice Party, Huntsman

So former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson is running for President of the United States. I like his platform mostly. I used to boo Rocky at the Pioneer Days parade in Salt Lake City primarily over his lack of restraint in involving himself in Davis County matters while he was the sitting mayor of Salt Lake City. But he’s not mayor anymore, the Legacy Highway is built (and is very nice), and again like I say I like the gist of his platform.

And I like that he has chosen the name of the Justice Party as a party name. Hopefully he didn’t personally choose the name–a fatally top-down initial move that a genuine grassroots movement needs to have come from bottom up. The Justice Party name reminds me of a political cartoon I did about a year ago.

Bob Morris sent me this link to an article looking at Jon Huntsman and Rocky Anderson written by Matt Stoller.

The bottom line up front on Huntsman is that I like him as well. I personally have adopted a policy that I only vote for reformers, particularly candidates who support open primaries and independent redistricting. Jon Huntsman fits both criteria, but alas he’s still a Republican (one of the enemy). Furthermore, being a good candidate unfortunately seems to be an automatic disqualification in this climate of wingnut politics within the parties. Jon Huntsman will not be the Republican nominee for 2012 unless a meteor hits CONUS or something. I am surprised he doesn’t have more traction with independents in New Hampshire in light of his support for open primaries and fair redistricting. But perhaps we will see more of him as the uber-conservative tea party faction of the GOP seems hellbent to go the way of the Whigs just to drive home a point. And to that point briefly, if they don’t want to raise taxes, don’t fight decade long wars on 2 fronts.

Which brings us back to Rocky Anderson. His anti-imperialism, anti-military industrial complex stances beat with the pulse of America. We shall see how this plays out. The two party system is accustomed to putting on little puppet shows of propaganda to convince people that they are concerned about our issues just enough to stave off popular opposition, but the backlights are coming on more and more to expose their silly little game of smoke and mirrors.

I read last night briefly on The Hankster that when Perot made a viable shot across the bow, disapproval of Congress was at 39%. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that current disapproval of Congress is 81% and that “something is going to explode”. Perhaps that is why Congress has suspended habeus corpus in anticipation of a serious challenge to their 2 party arrangement, but that is conspiracy speculation for another post!

Matt Stoller also reports that “Anderson is already being attacked bitterly by local Utah Democrats. Stay tuned.” The Utah Democrats are pathetically unorganized anyway, and Rocky has repudiated them for good reason. They simply are not behind the voice of the people even in Utah. They will tell you they are. The parties all say that, but they never bother to ask the people first. The Utah Democratic Party has relegated itself to minor party status. Less than 9% of registered voters are registered as Democrats. Link

The larger point is that the Rocky moment may get some traction. On an initial glance, he is not saying things that are all that different from Smedley Butler. It is all just a matter of timing.

Reformers and establishment challengers all–just sayin’

Posted in Politics


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