The Anti-Empire Report #13
By William Blum – Published September 17th, 2004
Progressives and the election
Is it not peculiar to circulate a statement calling upon people to vote for a particular candidate without giving a single reason why that candidate is worthy of support? Indeed, the statement is critical of the candidate’s position on the most important current issue. Such is what has been sent out by a group of prominent progressives, who were members of Ralph Nader’s 2000 Citizens Committee, urging a vote for John Kerry in swing states, even while they “strongly disagree with Kerry’s policies on Iraq and other issues.” That is the entirety of what the statement has to say about Kerry’s political positions. What is the principle here? Defeating George Bush is not a principle unless he’s replaced by someone significantly more progressive. Is there any reason to believe that Kerry is such a person? Of course not. If there were such a reason the signers would have expressed it. What’s that? You think that “significantly more progressive” is asking too much? How about moderately more? A bit more? Anything-at-all more? Does your own vote mean anything to you? Are you willing to give it up for next to nothing? Your vote may not mean as much to you as a young woman’s virginity which she is not willing to surrender except to someone she loves, but it does hold some value for you, does it not? 1
If Kerry wins, and a few months (weeks?) into his administration these progressives start to turn the radio or TV off when he comes on, as many now do with Bush … then what? There’s no future at all in electoral politics for progressives as long as they fail to cut their ties to the hopeless and treacherous Democrats and concentrate on building a third party. (Violent revolution, if successful, would be a more efficient manner of effecting progressive social change, but it can be awfully messy.)
Of course there are policy differences between Bush and Kerry, but if I tried to explain what they are I’d put myself to sleep. So this November, who will get your vote? Coke or Pepsi?
I believe that George W. Bush’s being held in such low esteem and producing visceral disgust in countless people owes as much to his intellectual and character shortcomings as to his policies. Bill Clinton could much easier get away with his abominable policies than Bush can because Clinton was often able to impart a sufficiently literate and charming manner.
Democrats, case in point, I
In the last report I raised the question: Why did Dennis Kucinich doggedly remain an official Democratic candidate for the presidency for months if not to remain principled on progressive issues? But when he failed to win support in the platform committee on those issues, he didn’t raise them on the floor of the convention and then announced his support for Kerry. One of my readers, Rich Piedmonte, has suggested an answer. Rich writes that Kucinich “probably WAS an ‘official candidate’ in a different sense. He was the official safety valve candidate. Knowing that they weren’t going to offer up anything but a ‘me, too – only smarter!’ candidate this year,” and frightened by the creativity and Internet technical expertise of the anti-war protestors, the Dems slipped Kucinich enough money to keep going so as to keep progressive party members busy and not agitating Kerry to move to the left.
I never cease to be surprised by such ideas. No matter how cynical I or others may think I am, I find at times that I’m not cynical enough.
Democrats, case in point, II
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., being interviewed by Diane Rehm (September 3) about his new book on saving the environment, recited a litany of corporate misbehavior that directly or indirectly harms the environment; again and again he sounded unforgiving of corporate greed; then, seemingly out of nowhere, he interjected that “there’s no greater supporter of a free-market economy than myself”. Why did he feel it necessary to put that on the record? So he won’t be seen as some kind of leftwing radical kook? Not the proper image for a “Kennedy”, is it? But the proper and standard cop-out for a liberal Democrat. Or a liberal Republican. They’re both paid by the same lobbyists.
Picture the Bushies sitting around discussing Venezuela and their bête noire, Hugo Chávez … Well, we tried the coup and that lasted only two days. Then we tried the recall and that failed, badly. So what do we do now? Hey, how about sanctions?
Thus it was that on September 10 the White House announced that the United States will not support $250 million in Venezuelan loan requests expected to come before international lending institutions during the next fiscal year. Bush took the action under Congressional legislation that called for sanctions against countries that – you ready? – fail to crack down on international trafficking in persons. In June, the State Department had issued a report that said that “Venezuela is a source, transit and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation” 2 , something which of course could be said about virtually every country on earth, including the country which houses the State Department.
How long before the Bushies turn to the good old standbys – bombing and invasion?
A tale of two cities
Two articles in the Washington Post, same day (September 1), same page (16):
Srinagar, India – “Militants threw a grenade near a crowded bus stop in Indian Kashmir on Tuesday, killing a schoolteacher and wounding 22 people … Police said that the guerrillas aimed the grenade at a police patrol in Pulwama, in southern Kashmir, but that it exploded on the street instead, wounding people waiting for buses.”
Kabul, Afghanistan – “The U.S. military said its forces killed more than 20 Islamic fighters on Tuesday in eastern Afghanistan but denied reports it had killed up to eight villagers in the same operation. Local police and aid workers said that between six and eight villagers were killed and nine wounded by U.S. bombing … They said several houses were also destroyed. But Maj. Scott Nelson, a U.S. military spokesman in the capital, Kabul, said: ‘We didn’t fire on these people’.”
Today’s question: Which of these two groups – the militants or the U.S. military – are commonly referred to as terrorists?
Sign-in of the times
We’re all accustomed to signing in when we visit certain office buildings. The sign-in book usually calls for date, your name, time arrived, who you’re visiting, time left. At 1779 Massachusetts Avenue, just off Dupont Circle in Washington, DC, the sign-in book now asks: “Are you a citizen of the USA?” What’s next, signing a loyalty oath or undergoing a strip search before you can enter a public civilian building?
Treason: None dare call it nothing Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has asked the CIA why the agency did not launch an investigation into the disclosure of classified information appearing in the best-selling book “Bush at War,” by Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward. Rockefeller cited 20 passages that he said contained highly classified information.
Woodward has responded that although some of the information in the book was classified, “no one has seriously suggested to me that there is information in the book that has harmed U.S. national security. That’s the real test.” 3
If only this were the way it worked. Instead, there are numerous individuals sitting in American prisons at this very moment, facing unconscionably long sentences, for passing information laughably inconsequential to foreign governments. In some cases the information was not even passed because the horrible “traitor” was caught before that could take place. But none of these poor souls had the foresight to first become Bob Woodward. I’ve written a study of two of these cases, a husband and wife from Washington, DC. 4
- for the statement and list of signers, see http://vote2stopbush.com
- Associated Press, September 10, 2004
- Washington Post, September 11, 2004
- William Blum, “Treason: None dare call it nothing”
Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to williamblum.org is provided.