Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Rosa Clemente - Building the Green Party

Rosa Clemente, our Green Party vice presidential candidate, has given a number of great talks about building the Green Party, several of which are available on YouTube thanks to Craig Seeman of Third Planet Video: The Media Whiteout and Building the Green Party. Thanks Rosa and Craig!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hooray for Cynthia McKinney!

Cynthia McKinney's acceptance speech at the Green Party Convention in Chicago, her statements in her campaign appearances, her choice of running mate and her campaign website all show that she understands and shares the values of the Green Party and sees the importance of building our party. It is wonderfully affirming to a long-time Green like myself to have a presidential candidate who shares my views about the importance of doing this. Thank you, Cynthia!

John Rensenbrink expresses similiar feelings in a recent article in Green Horizon magazine. Rensenbrink says:
"Allow yourself to think beyond the present power structure. Envision a different situation in which the present power structure has been dismantled. Surely, no power structure is permanent. The present one is dominated by megacorporate predatory giants and their Democrat and Republican minions. It will not last. It is not permanent. Please savor that thought. . . ."

"Cynthia is running full tilt as a Green. For the Green Party. She has stated that her goal is to get at least 5% in November. This will qualify the Green Party candidate for President in 2012 for millions of dollars in public funding. It will make the national Green party a substantial force and lay the basis for greater victories in the future. Now, that’s really thinking! Even if she does not get the 5%, her campaign will strengthen the Green Party and give it greater internal fiber and exposure to the public. This will help all future Green campaigns for all offices, including for president.

"Hooray for Cynthia! She really gets it. She knows that the powers-that-be are a power structure – and a bad one to boot. And that it must be dismantled if the issues people hold dear are to get a chance at being resolved. She puts first things first. Cynthia will not win the White House in November, but she is helping to lay the groundwork for “painting the White House Green” in the future. Thus a vote for her is a vote for our future."

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Petitioning to Get McKinney on NY Ballot

I am out petitioning every day to collect signatures to get Cynthia McKinney, our outstanding Green Party presidential candidate, on the New York state ballot. We need to file at least 15,000 signatures with the New York State Board of Elections on August, 19, 2008, to qualify Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente for the Nov. 4th ballot. I have been getting lots of signatures in Steuben County, where I live, and in Yates County next door.

If you are a registered voter in New York, please join our efforts. You can download a petition and petitioning instructions at http://steubengreens.org. Because the Green Party does not have ballot status in New York, any registered voter (who has not already signed for another presidential candidate) is eligible to witness and to sign the petition.

Read more about McKinney's campaign at http://runcynthiarun.org/
Women Top Green Party Presidential Ticket

Friday, August 08, 2008

Green Party Challenges Apportionment of Electoral College

The Green Party filed a lawsuit on July 28, 2008, seeking to democratize the Electoral College by enforcing 14th Amendment voter protections. The action seeks relief against the defendant, Vice President Cheney, who will preside over the tabulation of "unbound electoral states" on January 6, 2009, and challenges the recognition of Electoral College votes that are apportioned by states on a winner-take-all basis.

The civil action seeks enforcement of the 'Mal-Apportionment Penalty' provided in Section 2 of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, which mandates a reduction of a state's presidential electors and congressional representatives if "the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States... is denied... or in any way abridged." The action also seeks the issuance of a court order providing proportional apportionment of presidential electors.

"[Our challenge] exposes the hypocrisy and fraud behind charges that the McKinney campaign might 'spoil' the Democratic presidential ticket's chances of winning," said Asa Gordon, chair of the DC Statehood Green Party's Electoral College Task Force and executive director of the Douglass Institute of Government. Mr. Gordon filed the action in the US District Court for the District of Columbia (1:08-cv-01294). Cynthia McKinney was nominated as the Green Party's presidential candidate during the 2008 Green National Convention in Chicago, July 10-13.

"Democratic leaders should have to explain why they choose to ignore 13 additional electors from southern states that they'd gain through the Green Party's presidential electors project. Why is the Green Party fighting to give voice to Democratic voters that the Democratic Party will not fight for? Let me be clear -- we're not doing this to assist Barack Obama, but to foster real democracy and voter participation, and to offer Cynthia McKinney as the truly democratic choice for all the people," said Mr. Gordon.

"By refusing to challenge Electoral College malapportionment in 2000 and 2004, which blocked Democratic electors from voting in those elections, the Democratic Party's leaders abandoned tens of thousands of their own voters, just as they failed to challenge the election irregularities in Florida and Ohio in 2000 and 2004. Will they fail to challenge malapportionment again in 2008, and hand the Republicans another victory? Barack Obama would not be the Democratic nominee if not for the Democratic Party's proportional assignment of primary delegates. The winner-take-all provisions in the general election present the distinct possibility that Mr. Obama in 2008 will win the popular vote by a considerably larger margin than did Gore in 2000, but will repeat the Democratic loss in the Electoral College."

Mr. Gordon said that African American voters in several southern states that were represented by proportional assignment of delegates in the Democratic primary, and who were critical to Barack Obama's success, will be lost to Mr. Obama under the winner-take-all rules of the general election. "If proportional assignment is considered by Democrats to be vital to democracy in their primary elections, why won't they fight for it in the general election?" asked Mr. Gordon, who led workshops for Green presidential electors during the 2008 Green National Convention.

If the relief sought is not granted, "We're in danger of seeing the 2008 election stolen again, as in 2000 and 2004," said Clyde Shabazz, Green candidate for the US House in Michigan (13th District). "In Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004, we witnessed the obstruction and manipulation of votes by election officials and possible tampering with computer voting machines. But equally insidious is the malapportionment of Electoral College votes, which disenfranchises whole sections of the voting public."

Mr. Gordon noted that the lawsuit has the potential to "alter the fate of the 2008 presidential election in a manner different from any presidential election in the nation's history."

Read Green Party Press Release: Greens launch effort against Electoral College manipulation of presidential elections

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Greens Pay for Own Convention, Dems and the Reps Get Funded by Corporations

Amy Goodman's article, Who’s Paying for the Conventions?, on Truthdig yesterday, describes huge corporate payments the Democratic and Republican presidential nominating conventions are receiving. These payments are in addition to the taxpayer funding these conventions receive, as I described in a previous post. Amy's article highlights a June 2008 report by the Campaign Finance Institute analyzing donors to the major party conventions.

The CFI report states that both Democrats and Republicans are using local “host committees” in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul as vehicles for unlimited soft money contributions to their respective 2008 party conventions. CFI's analysis is based on documents received from freedom of information requests to Governors and Mayors in Colorado and Minnesota which are excerpted in the report and its appendices.

According to the CFI report, the Federal Election Commission and Internal Revenue Service have permitted a vast expansion of host committee fundraising on the grounds that since these organizations are nonpartisan “charities” or “business leagues,” contributing to them does not present an issue of potential political corruption or appearance of corruption. But CFI’s investigation established that Republican federal and other elected officials, their financiers and party operatives, are asking for largely corporate money to fund the Republican convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul. And their Democratic equivalents are doing the same for their convention in Denver.

The CFI report shows that the 107 organizational donors to the convention host committees are drawing directly upon their corporate treasuries to help provide $55 million in private financing to the Democratic convention in Denver and $57 million for the Republican conclave in Minneapolis-St. Paul. CFI reports that among the largest pledges or contributions to host committees are: Qwest Communications ($6 million for each convention), Comcast ($5 million for Democrats), Xcel Energy ($2.25 million for Democrats and $1.2 million for Republicans), United Health Group ($1.5 million for Republicans but undefined for Democrats), Union Pacific ($1 million for Democrats), Molson Coors Brewing ($1 million for Democrats), and St. Jude Medical ($1 million for Republicans).

Voters should watch these numbers and vote Green. Our Green Party convention in Chicago two weeks ago was paid for entirely by individual contributors to our party and by the delegates themselves.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Paying for Our Own Convention

As I help recruit people to serve as delegates from New York to the 2008 national Green Party Presidential nominating convention in Chicago, I find myself explaining that we have to find people who can afford to pay their own way to attend. Neither our state party nor our national party have sufficient funds to help defray delegate expenses. In contrast, delegates to the Democratic and Republican conventions have their expenses paid by US taxpayers. This is just one of the many ways that third parties are disadvantaged in the US electoral system. The general public sees us struggling, but doesn't know the burdens we are struggling under.

According to the Federal Elections Commission website, each major political party is entitled to $4 million (plus cost-of-living adjustments) under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) to finance its national Presidential nominating convention. FECA was first passed in the 1970s, and the cost of living adjustments are now greatly in excess of $4 million. A minor party is eligible for a partial convention subsidy if its candidate received more than five percent of the vote in the previous presidential election.

The disadvantages of our public funding system to third parties are well-stated in the book Two Parties--or More? The American Party System, by John F. Bibby and Louis Sandy Maisel (Westview, 2002), pages 64-65:

"Advocates of a multiparty system are certainly correct in asserting that the Federal Election Campaign Act functions in a manner that benefits the two major parties at the expense of minor parties. Under the FECA, a party is eligible for public funding of its candidate's presidential campaign, provided that the party's nominee in the previous presidential election received the requisite percentage of the popular vote. Major parties—defined under the law as those that received at least 25 percent of the vote in the last presidential election—are entitled to full funding ($67.6 million in 2000) of their candidates' general election campaigns. Minor parties can receive a much smaller allocation of federal funds if they meet the minimum requirement of 5 percent of the vote in the previous election.

"Since it is difficult to imagine a set of circumstances in which the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates do not receive at least one-fourth of the vote, the FECA in effect, seems to guarantee the two major parties a government-subsidized existence in perpetuity. By contrast, even third parties that qualify for public funding do so at a much lower level than the major parties. Thus, the Democratic and Republican nominees in 2000 received a public subsidy of $67.6 million, whereas Pat Buchanan (the Reform party nominee) got $12.6 million. FECA also assists the major parties by funding their national conventions with public funds and providing matching money to their candidates during the pre-convention presidential primaries and state party caucuses to select national convention delegates."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mike Gravel Supports Jesse Johnson’s Bid for President

The Green Party of the United States announced today that former Senator Mike Gravel has endorsed Jesse Johnson’s Green Party presidential campaign. After a meeting between the two in Washington DC on Friday, Gravel stated, “I’m supporting Jesse because he began his political career with the determination that the environmental plundering must stop." Gravel said that Johnson is challenging "the corporations that destroy our national resources and then harvest from this practice a toxic energy source; coal. The mountain top mining practices devastate the landscape by blowing apart mountains and then carbon belching plants burn the coal creating a form of energy that serves as one of the major contributors for global climate change.”

“We must have a voice in the political realm speaking earnestly and intelligently about all of our environmental needs. Johnson and the Green Party have that environmental credibility that we Democrats have lost,” Gravel said.

Johnson, former chair of the West Virginia Mountain Party and two time candidate for statewide office, said that this sort of cross party support “was just the kind of non-traditional, selfless act that we have come to know Senator Mike Gravel to make. When he read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional record, or filibustered to end the draft he had his eye – at all times – on the big picture and the needs of others. I am not surprised that a true patriot and advocate of the citizen as leader of our country would take such an unprecedented and bold stand. And I am honored and humbled that he has selected my campaign and the Green Party as his allies in this very important race to save our environment from the actions of humans.”

Gravel explained why he is not supporting a Democratic Party candidate. “We’ve seen the havoc the two parties can wreak, on a global scale, by locking out the voices of reason – by eliminating the third party voices. I want to amplify those voices to save our country from our own shortsighted and greedy actions. If we want to end the war in Iraq, provide health care to all citizens, educate our young people, we’re going to have to start not only working together with these alternate parties: but literally working to support them. That’s why I’m supporting Jesse Johnson’s campaign for President.”

“My political party long ago walked away from taking the necessary steps that will safe guard our nation’s and our children’s futures. I worked dedicatedly throughout my career as a U.S. Senator to protect the precious resources our country had within it’s boundaries as well as to mitigate the negative impact our businesses and individuals were having on the planet. I have watched the ever important job of stewarding these gifts vanish from the political landscape and I hold the Democratic Party leadership responsible for giving up that fight,” Gravel said.

Gravel will campaign with Johnson as his schedule allows.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Nader Campaign is about Ballot Access

Excellent piece today in Delaware Online by David McCorquodale:

"The News Journal chose to print a cartoon and an editorial critical of Ralph Nader's decision to run for president as an independent. A man who has spent his life defending the rights of consumers was trashed in the cartoon as a "bottom-feeder," as if he were somehow profiting from this decision. The editorial said he was "ruining his reputation."

"If it's a reputation for challenging the status quo, then Nader is adding to it. The editorial referred to the myth that Nader's campaign in 2000 gave George W. Bush the presidency. Al Gore actually did win that election, but Bush took the presidency by 537 votes. The Democratic Party allowed itself to be steamrolled.

"Here's the larger point about 2000. Isn't it possible that of the 95,000 votes Nader got in Florida, some people wouldn't have voted at all if Nader had not been on the ballot?

"One of the issues the Nader campaign will concentrate on is ballot access. His campaign in 2004 was hindered by the Democratic Party. In Pennsylvania, ballot petition signatures of the Nader campaign were challenged. When a court ruled in favor of the Democratic Party and denied Nader ballot status, it also charged the Nader campaign more than $100,000 in court costs, even though usually costs are only levied against frivolous lawsuits. It turns out most of the judges involved in this ruling had ties to the Democratic law firm that filed suit.

"In 2006, the Green Party of Pennsylvania saw a similar effort to deny ballot access when U.S. Senate candidate Carl Romanelli had most his petition signatures ruled invalid by Democratic judges and was fined $80,000. He faces the possibility of jail because of his inability to pay this fine, levied because he sought to run for political office.

"Is this country fated to choose only between Republican and Democratic candidates? Those parties and the media certainly seem to be conspiring to limit choices.

"There is a better way. Instant run-off voting would allow voters to rank their choices when more than two candidates are on the ballot. The candidate with the least number of votes would be eliminated and the second choices of voters would be assigned votes. This process would continue until someone won a majority.

"This reform is being adapted in other countries as well as some municipalities here. Minor Libertarian, Green and Reform parties would be able to show their true strength. The issues that concern them and many independents could not be ignored by major party candidates.

"The major parties would benefit because candidates would have to win a majority.

"The Green Party presidential candidate, most likely former six-term congresswoman from Georgia Cynthia McKinney, will have to compete with Ralph Nader for many of the same voters. Nader will hurt the Green Party more than any other party. But a democracy is about choices and we welcome the challenge."

David McCorquodale, of Wilmington, is treasurer of the Green Party of Delaware.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Nader Shows Up a Spoiled System, Helps McKinney

Ralph Nader entered the 2008 presidential campaign this week asking tough questions that none of the major party candidates have taken up. No wonder they denounce him as a spoiler. Nader, McKinney and the other third party candidates do spoil the insider game that seeks to limit American voters to the two choices of the two corporate parties. All voters benefit from their efforts.

Nader’s independent campaign helps all third parties and third party presidential candidates. His campaign particularly helps the Green Party and the campaign of Cynthia McKinney.

The fight to open up the US electoral system in which the Green Party is engaged benefits greatly from the presence on the ballot of as many highly qualified independent and third party candidates as possible. The more well-qualified candidates the better because they can debate each other and draw attention to each other’s campaigns in ways that would not be possible if each were the only third party candidate in the race.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Re-Thinking the Foundations of Green Politics

Inspiring article by Steve Welzer in the new issue of Green Horizon Quarterly. Here are some excerpts:

Transcending Marxism, Freudianism, and Environmentalism

"The leftist movement for social liberation focused narrowly on sociopathological issues. As the critique of modernity broadened, two alternative, but also narrowly-focused, liberatory movements arose during the 20th century: a movement focusing on the psychopathological aspects of modernity (vide Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents) and the environmental movement, which focuses on the ecopathological aspects.

"The importance of the Green movement is that it holds the promise of synthesizing the narrowly-focused social, psychological, and ecological critiques. Emergent Green theory recognizes that our most serious problems flow from the aberrant direction we’ve been going in for millennia—away from sanity, toward lifeways that are unmoored from the community/nature matrix.

"This implies that human liberation won't result from changing ownership of the means of production or from psychotherapy/pharmacology or from simple environmentalism. Beyond notions of political revolution or personal liberation, what is required will be a Deep Green transformation of lifeways—renewal of appreciation for limits and balances, revaluation of community, re-establishment of our relation to nature and place. The problems of the epoch of development—imperialism, war, inequality, ecological crisis, mass forms of neurosis, preoccupation with technology—are all symptoms of the fact that we’ve lost our bearings in a headlong rush toward hyper-modernity. Our challenge now is to recover our grounding and find our way home."

Kent Mesplay on Breaking the Stranglehold of the Two-Party System

Green Party presidential candidate Kent Mesplay was recently interviewed by Lisa Karpova in Pravda, the Russian daily, on his presidential campaign. He was asked a number of good questions about the operation of the US political system.

Interview with Green Party Presidential Candidate Kent Mesplay

1. As we can see, the system presently is heavily weighted against 3rd parties.What steps do you think need to be taken to break the stranglehold of the 2 party system?

The first step will be to allow candidates equal time and access to media coverage. Right now, most coverage is purchased by the wealthier candidates. Running for office is a money-grab, with back-up provided by committees in the two parties that accept funding and direction from corporations (e.g. debates are not regulated as "in kind" expensive contributions and are corporate-driven in content and appearance). So, getting the money out of polics is important, such as by publicly funded campaigns. Still, rather than just have taxpayers subsidize advertizing agencies it would be better to reinstitute equal access laws. Also, having proportional representation and, as a step to this, preferential voting such as I.R.V. will help improve representation and alternative party access

2. Why do you think American voters are unwilling to vote for candidates who are neither Republican or Democrat, (according to the Green site "corporate" parties)?

People who are disgusted with politics in this country do not vote (a silent, invisible vote against the system). The way forward is to have a rapidly moving campaign that begins to look like it can succeed. It is possible, even for higher-ticket races, for Greens to be elected (although generally improbable). Currently, there are over 200 elected Greens to office. These tend to be local positions, including mayor-ships. Voters will vote for an "underdog" but only if it does not look like the underdog is moments away from being steam-rolled flat. So, there is a chance of electing a Green president or senator, but it is slight under the current system. A full-out, organized "protest" vote engaging celebrity support and the youth is a good way forward. It's not that the voting public tend to like the candidates of the two main parties: they tend to enact "lesser evilism" voting in which they vote for the least offensive candidate. Changing the system through preferential voting, in which one ranks candidates, will go a long way toward improving this process.

3. The media makes exposure difficult for 3rd party candidates. Don't you think this situation should be legally challenged?

Yes. Nader and others have law suits taking place, such as around the blocking of a candidate in Pennsylvania and in the illegal blocking of Nader's campaign by Democratic-party operatives in 2004. It is practically illegal to participate in politics in this country outside the rigid two-party structure (that behaves as one party on key issues).

4. The problems with the US election system leave much to be desired when preaching to other nations about democracy. Please comment about the current fixation of the administration to "spread freedom and democracy" which frankly has people worldwide rather cynical regarding US motivations.

The "freedom and democracy" rhetoric used by the U.S. government is only a cheap selling point used to buy the support of supposed patriots who are really the ones, through their lack of critical thinking, selling out this country. Our country invades and then proclaims itself the "good guy." It's not just "worldwide": we are getting sick of this within the U.S. as well.

5. What would be your first order of business were you to be the President of the United States regarding how the US would tackle global warming and its dependence on oil? What about US use of depleted and enriched uranium, is this not an ecological disaster of horrendous proportions?

The United States needs to declare a state of emergency and use all available resources to improve our energy efficiency and move entirely toward sustainable, renewable energy. It is for lack of separation of big-business and state that we do not have this. Our government is run by corporations. Nader recently said every branch of our government is run by business: even the labor department. Our government is border-line fascist, and I mean this in the loose, lay-man sense of the term denoting a dangerous confluence of business and government, especially regarding the business of war. Yes, I fully agree regarding the release of depleted uranium: another "verboten" subject in the U.S. . . .

8. How would you propose conducting relations with Cuba and your other southern neighbors such as Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia? What about Iran?

I believe in normalizing relations with Cuba and creating better diplomatic ties to the other southern neighbors mentioned. Especially with Fidel Castro stepping down there may be an opportunity for thawing the chill between our countries. Cuba has invested resources in living sustainably and now has much "green" experience that may be valuable for other countries such as the United States that need to cut their waste and live more within their means. Foreign leaders critical of the Bush regime are immediately villified in our press.

Hugo Chavez is not the villian he is made out to be. Iran is not the threat that our government would like us to believe it is. Especially after our invasion of Iraq, I am extremely critical of our presidential administration's grasp of reality.

9. Re ending the occupation of Iraq:

The policy concerning Iraq needs to be a presidential-level apology to the people of Iraq, apology to U.S. service personnel and their families, apology to other U.S. citizens and world citizens. The stated goal needs to be unconditional, immediate withdrawal (which may take six months to fully implement) together with a parallel "surge" in diplomatic efforts. Politically, an international body such as the U.N. is needed to help with transitioning toward a more peaceful society.

Informants and others friendly to "coalition" efforts need expedited VISAs so that they can leave the country. U.S. high-level diplomats need to work tirelessly in the countries surrounding Iraq to form a coalition of politicians, celebrities (authors, musicians, sports personalities, etc), tribal leaders, religious leaders and a cross-section of the youth who can help lead the region toward becoming stable. At the very least, such a coalition would have a visible advisory role, but more appropriately would have a strong role to counter the business-driven policies of the U.S. government and would act in a manner representing the needs of the Iraqi people, not our war investors. Finally, a U.S.-sponsored clean-up needs to be conducted to address environmental damage and war reparations need to be offered in an effort at real justice.

10. There are many possible methods of implementing universal health care. The Green Party advocates single-payer health care in which the government is responsible for insuring and ensuring that ALL citizens within the United States are covered.

I would like the policy extended toward non-nationals who are here visiting or working illegally. If rare illnesses are brought into the country by people seeking work, it is important that they, too, receive adequate health coverage to stem the spread of disease. We are a wealthy enough country to provide health care for all. Forms of "universal" health coverage that allow competition and depend on private insurers, such as the plans I have seen offered by Democratic Party candidates, tend to leave people uncovered.

The Republican Party is opposed to anything but free-market health coverage, which leaves over 40 million people without coverage for some time of the year in the U.S. Health care in the U.S. is sporadic, expensive and exclusionary. We can change this. A feature that I would like would be for allowance of regional specialization with clinics scattered about for ready access, rather than the current model of fewer, larger, more distant hospitals.

For security purposes, it is important to have strong regional health care. Also, I would be friendly toward policies recognizing and encouraging complementary or alternative health care, such as by recognizing the importance of working with healing plants and ancient "energy" practices. Western medicine has much to learn. Because of corporate influence (pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, advertising companies) the trend has been toward abolishing health care that is rooted in community wisdom and practice. I would like a blend of "old and new" with our medical practices, with a balance of standardization and respect for diversity. I study with Native healers and others who do "energy" healing.

11. Why did the Clintons experience difficulties in implementing their health care plan?

The difficulty experienced by the Clintons in producing a reasonable health care plan in the United States came from the business sector, which treats health care as a business from which short-term profits are to be derived. Our elected representatives first and foremost represent business interests. There is no separation of business and state in the United States, which gets in the way of representatives being able to actually solve problems in various sectors, including that which ought to be considered a basic human right: health care.

12. What are your chances of being the nominee?

Someone once told me to always run as though I am winning. At present, other Green Party candidates have more votes and nominating delegates than I have. I have not done a strict delegate count, in part because there are so many "fluid" parameters in the Green Party race, but I think it would be safe to say that by the time of the July convention I will be in third place or better. At present I am somewhere in the middle. The two most famous candidates are currently in the lead, but our most famous one (Nader) has not declared himself a candidate as of this writing. My strategy is to pick up my campaign and be a solid third or better and to be the second-choice pick of most of the delegates.

In 2004 I was told, after the nominating convention, that if our rounds based upon preferential voting had lasted longer I would have been the nominee since I had so much "second place" support. Depending on what happens in between rounds of caucusing and voting at the nominating convention I could win if one of our two front-runners drops out of the race and I attract their delegates. This is not as unlikely as it sounds. In 2003 Nader requested that his name be taken off the primary ballot in my state of California prior to the primary race. It is not at all clear what the man is doing this time around, but it is creating dissention within the party.

13. Anything else?

Yes, thank you for the interview. The Green Party is a truly international party. The reader is encouraged to read about our key values and be advocates for their favorite ones: be it decentralization, post-patriarchical values, peace and nonviolence, social justice or environmental health. In the United States we are at a critical time in that our government is sliding toward totalitarianism in a way that is invisible to many people. Because of the fear promulgated by our "leaders" another 9/11-type event could be used as an excuse to impose martial law and cancel the presidential election. Many people here do not realize how many of our rights as citizens have disappeared under the current Bush regime. We need perestroika and glasnost, American-style, here in the US: restructuring and openness.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Green Party Ignored to Death on Stupor Tuesday

Bill Meyers, a California Green, has an interesting post on his blog about yesterday's California primary. Here are some of Bill's points:

"Ralph Nader won, which I'll get back to in a second. The most obvious point is that only about 25,000 Green votes were cast in all of California, excepting I think there were a lot of write-ins for Barack Obama. This is a dismal turnout, and if you are not depressed enough by American politics already, I'm going to go into why.

"For statewide offices in California Green Party candidates have polled far higher. For instance, in the 2002 race for Governor, Peter Camejo received 393,036 votes.

"Before declaring an end to the Green Party, consider what people in Mendocino County were saying about how they wanted to vote in the primary. There were two common themes among greenish voters here: people could not vote in the Green Primary because they had switched to Democrat, usually back in 2004, to vote for Dennis Kucinich. And people who were mad they were registered Green because they wanted to vote for Barack Obama.

"Let's take the Barack Obama greens first. A secondary comment was that the Green Party primary was not exciting because they had not heard of any of the candidates except Ralph Nader, who no longer excited them. Since there was close to zero press coverage of the Green Party candidates, of course they had not heard of them. If the corporate press that they say they hate and distrust had not whipped up Barack's campaign he'd be as obscure as any other black person in Congress.

"The Kucinich greens are a sad lot. Consciously or not, Dennis Kucinich had a mission in 2004: to destroy the Green Party. He did great at that. He claimed he was going to move the Democrats to the left, but instead he made a joke of the left within the party. So he killed two birds with one stone. The dope-addled Kucinich Democrats of Mendocino County mostly fell into the we-love-Obama camp. After all, they had trained themselves for over a decade to hate the kind of Democratic Party that the Clintons represent. And Obama is not Clinton.

"Anyone who thinks that because they are now what passes for the far left in the United States, people registered in the Green Party must be particularly astute or even news-aware don't know the Greens of Mendocino County, or of California. Green Party members, as a whole, hardly ever vote. They pay little attention to the news, and get most of their knowledge of the world from the corporate media. When focused they are as smart as anyone and may remember some of the lessons they have learned about corporate control of the media, the candidates, and the two party system, but they drift away from that pretty easily.

"Cynthia McKinney is a far better choice to lead the Green Party ticket in 2008 than Ralph Nader, but she was smashed in the primary. Interestingly, there was only one city where the press covered the Green Party primary at all: San Francisco. There was a Green Party Presidential debate there, and while there was no TV coverage, the daily paper wrote a short article and enough people attended to create a buzz. Cynthia edged out Ralph there, 46% to 44%. If there had been statewide televised debates I think the statewide electoral results would have been similar.

"Why? Because Greens, like other voters, mostly vote based solely on name recognition. Ralph Nader has way better name recognition than Ms. McKinney, an African-American who has served several terms in the House of Representatives for her Georgia district."

Green Party Presidential Primary Results

Richard Winger reports today in Ballot Access News the results of yesterday's Green Party presidential primaries.

"Four states held Green Party presidential primaries on February 5. Arkansas and California state elections officials have incomplete, unofficial results, but Illinois and Massachusetts elections officials do not provide that service.

"Arkansas: With only three-fourths of the counties reporting so far, the results are: uncommitted 273; Cynthia McKinney 116; Jared Ball 54; Kent Mesplay 48; Kat Swift 26. Ralph Nader was unable to have his name on this ballot since he hasn’t declared his candidacy. Arkansas Greens have severely criticized Pulaski County (the most populous county in the state) election administrators, for not making Green Party ballots available in many precincts.

"California: with 96% of the precincts reporting (but many uncounted absentee and provisional ballots), the results are: Ralph Nader 16,835; Cynthia McKinney 7,124; Elaine Brown 1,259; Kat Swift 843; Kent Mesplay 564; Jesse Johnson 506; Jared Ball 444.

"Illinois: check back for better results. The Chicago Tribune reports 1,446 for Cynthia McKinney, 438 for Howie Hawkins, 369 for Kent Mesplay, and 302 for Jared Ball. Thanks to Brian (commenter below) for these returns. As in Arkansas, Green Party activists are making a determined effort to alert the press in Illinois of election day problems. In Cook County and certain other counties, there were many precincts in which elections officials told voters that there is no Green Party primary ballot.

"Massachusetts: check back for better results. Fragmentary returns suggest that the race between Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney is extremely close."

The reason we had no Green Party primary in New York yesterday is because the Green Party does not have ballot status in New York. Only parties who have ballot status are permitted to participate in the official primaries. The Green Party of New York participated in 2002 when we had ballot status. We have not had ballot status since that time because our candidate for governor has not gotten at least 50,000 votes. People have a right to register in the Green Party in New York because we won a lawsuit in 2003 giving us that right as long as we are successful in placing a candidate for governor on the ballot. In 2006 we placed Malachy McCourt on the ballot by collecting almost 30,000 signatures.

The Green Party of New York will decide how to choose our presidential delegates at the state committee meeting on Feb. 23.

Court Overrules BOE and Allows DREs

To the disappointment of many, on Monday, Justice Kimberly O'Connor, Acting Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, overruled the decision of the Board of Elections and determined that LibertyVote’s DRE could be purchased by New York counties. Read Bo Lipari’s blog for the details http://www.nyvv.org/boblog/

Friday, January 25, 2008

Paper Ballots for New York

Excellent news this morning from Bo Lipari, the Director of New Yorkers for Verified Voting. "I'm pleased to announce that after five years of hard work on the part of voting integrity advocates, New York State has rejected DREs and approved only the Automark and the Sequoia ImageCast scanner/marker for use in 2008 polling places. This momentous decision by the State Board of Elections virtually guarantees that New York State will vote on paper ballots and ballot scanners when it finally replaces lever machines in 2009." Many thanks to Bo and his wife Susanne, and to the many other activists across the state such as Susan and Gray Multer, for their five years of hard work to address the deficiencies of DRE's and encourage our election commissioners to choose paper ballot voting systems.

Who Decides Who’ll Be Allowed on TV Debates?

Yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle highlights the significance of the Nevada Supreme Court's very troubling ruling allowing a cable network to exclude Dennis Kucinich from a Democratic presidential debate, Who Decides Who’ll Be Allowed on TV Debates? by Bob Egelko.

The article notes that the ruling "constituted the strongest judicial statement yet of news organizations’ near-absolute power to control participation in pre-election forums - including the debates scheduled in California next week in advance of the state’s Feb. 5 primary. Broadcasters’ right to exclude candidates they consider marginal has been established at least since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a 1998 case involving a state-owned television station in Arkansas that had excluded a congressional candidate from a debate." Click here for the rest of the article.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Letter to Steuben County Board of Elections

Dear Steuben County Election Commissioners,

I am writing to urge you to choose ballot marking devices that are
compatible with paper ballot optical scan voting systems. Please do not
choose devices compatible with Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems.

As you know, the New York State Board of Elections requires county
election commissioners to select the ballot marking devices they will
use by February 8, 2008. Your choice in this matter will decide the
long-term future for how votes are counted in Steuben County. Please
protect election integrity in Steuben County by choosing devices that
are compatible with paper ballot optical scan voting systems.

Kucinich Refused to Debate Opponent in 2006

I am disappointed to see on the web that Dennis Kucinich refused to debate his opponent in the Democratic primary in 2006, Opponent Interrupts Summit After Kucinich Skips Debate. In order to have free and fair elections, candidates need to participate in debates with their opponents.

Who is Looking Out for the Voters?

The New York Times reports, NBC Wins Battle Over Debate, that the Nevada Supreme Court overruled the district court judge and decided that MSNBC was not required to include candidate Dennis Kucinich in its Democratic presidential debate last night. The Times report says that the victory "will likely be described as a First Amendment victory by [MSNBC], as lawyers for NBC had argued that it had a right, as a privately owned network, to determine whom to invite to the debate. " If so, it is an odd interpretation of the First Amendment. It is an interpretation that allows gigantic news corporations using the public airways to restrict the public's access to information about candidates. The network was explicit in claiming the right to determine who is a viable candidate. But it is the voters who must be allowed this right, not the network corporations.

As John Nichols noted in his ironic article in the Nation, NBC Battles To Keep Kucinich Out of Las Vegas Debate, NBC went court to fight for "the cherished right of television networks to decide who is and who is not a legitimate candidate for president. . . . [M]ajor media conglomerates have traditionally been able to police the parameters of presidential politics. Any affront to this order of affairs is a threat to the ability of corporations to define the American discourse." Nichols concludes that Kucinich’s lawyers " have fewer resources, but are possessed of one commodity that the broadcast and cable network seem to lack: an understanding that democracy is best served by free and open debate." We agree.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Nevada Judge Rules Kucinich Must Be Allowed to Participate in Debate, NBC Appeals

Huffington Post reports that NBC News said Monday it will appeal a judge's ruling rather than include Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich in a candidates' debate in Nevada.

Hours earlier, Senior Clark County District Court Judge Charles Thompson ruled that Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, must be allowed to participate. If he is excluded, Thompson said he would issue an injunction to stop the televised debate. Thompson called it a matter of fairness and said Nevada voters will benefit by hearing from more than just top contenders Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.

Ironically, the network and the Democratic Party have promoted the debate as a chance for the candidates to be questioned about issues from Nevada's minority communities.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Green Presidential Debate Videos

Opening statements from the Green Party presidential debate on Jan. 13 are on YouTube at http://youtube.com/watch?v=NNGtJ_0vTgk. Coverage of the debates by KTVU in San Francisco is at http://www.ktvu.com/video/15040480/index.html

800 Attend Green Party Presidential Debate Jan. 13 in San Francisco

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that 800 people attended the first Green Party presidential debate of 2008 held in San Francisco on Jan. 13. Candidates Cynthia McKinney, Jared Ball, Kent Mesplay, Kat Swift and Jesse Johnson participated in a debate moderated by Cindy Sheehan and KPFA radio host Aimee Allison. Bay Area elected officials who are Green Party members - including Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi and San Francisco Board of Education member Mark Sanchez - also spoke. Ralph Nader, the 2000 Green Party presidential nominee who has yet to announce his intentions for 2008, was scheduled to participate in the debate, but he did not. Instead, he addressed the crowd after the debate concluded. Two segments of the debate are now on YouTube, one features Cynthia McKinney, the other features Jesse Johnson and Jared Ball. It is to be hoped that other segments of the debate will be posted soon.

Green Party Sues to Overturn Mich Law that Allows only GOP and Dems to See Voter Lists

There is no justification in a democracy for a law like this.

ACLU sues over voter lists from primary
Law lets only GOP, Democratic Party see names

January 11, 2008, by David Ashenfelter, Detroit Free Press

The ACLU of Michigan filed a federal lawsuit in Detroit today on behalf of three political parties to overturn a new law that enables the Democratic and Republican parties – but no one else – from obtaining lists of people who will vote on Tuesday’s presidential primary.

“It’s not our intention to stop the primary,” Michigan ACLU director Kary Moss said Friday after the suit was filed in U.S. District Court. “Instead, it is our contention that the state cannot lawfully limit access to this information to the two major political parties. The consequence of this law is to exclude individuals and parties from meaningful participation in the process.”

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Green, Libertarian and Reform parties of Michigan, the Metro Times and Winning Strategies, a political consulting firm. The new law, passed last August, doesn’t require Michigan voters to register by party, so the party in which residents will cast votes on Tuesday is valuable to political parties, candidates, journalists and citizen groups that support or oppose ballot proposals, the ACLU said. The law says anyone other than the two parties who uses a “secret” record could be issued a 93-day, $1,000 misdemeanor.

Moss said the statute gives the major political parties an unfair advantage and violates the Equal Protection Clause and 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds. No hearings have been scheduled. The suit asks Edmunds to declare the law unconstitutional and prohibit the Michigan Secretary of State from carrying out the law’s provisions.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Exclusion of Candidates from Democratic and Republican Primary Debates is Undemocratic

Greens have watched with sympathy and frustration the exclusion of major party candidates expressing anti-war views from the primary debates sponsored by national news media. Their exclusion highlights the narrowness of the political dialogue allowed by the national media, and raises extremely significant issues regarding the democracy of elections in this country. GP-US has issued a press release protesting the exclusion of Kucinich, Gravel, and Paul from the primary debates.

The release notes that the first Green presidential candidates' debate is set for San Francisco on Sunday, January 13. All announced Green presidential candidates will participate in the debate, and unannounced candidate Ralph Nader will be a special guest. The debate will be moderated by Cindy Sheehan.

Greens Protest the Exclusion of Antiwar Candidates from Democratic and Republican Primary Debates

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, January 8, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders and candidates protested the exclusion of Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and Ron Paul from primary presidential debates sponsored by major news organizations.

Greens noted that Mr. Kucinich, Mr. Gravel, and Mr. Paul hold strong positions against the Iraq war and other Bush policies, in agreement with most Americans but contrary to the positions of other Democrats and Republicans running for the White House.

Mr. Kucinich, like the Green Party, favors single-payer national health care, unlike his fellow Democratic presidential candidates and the major media, which rely on corporate campaign contributions and advertising dollars from insurance firms, HMOs, and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Mr. Kucinich was excluded from an ABC TV debate on January 5.

The six candidates for the Green Party's presidential nomination, all of whom oppose the war, will be featured in upcoming Green debates. The first debate will take place in San Francisco on January 13. The nomination will be decided at the Green Party's 2008 national convention, July 10-13 in Chicago.

Jody Grage, treasurer of the Green Party of the United States: "In democratic elections, voters have a right to be informed about all the candidates whose names they'll see on the ballot. Fox and ABC TV have violated the public interest and their licenses to use the publicly owned airwaves. They're acting like the official news bureaus of dictatorships."

Jason Wallace, peace activist, Iraq War veteran, and Green candidate for Congress in Illinois (11th district): "It's no accident that Kucinich, Gravel, and Paul -- the most vocal opponents of the Iraq invasion -- are getting shut out of the debates. While the Democratic and Republican parties and big media conglomerates try to close down serious public discussion over the Iraq war, the Green Party's 'Peace Slate' will continue to represent the opinion of most Americans, whom poll after poll have shown oppose the war. On Election Day 2008, the only truly antiwar candidates on the ballot will be from the Green Party or another third party or will be independent."

Rodger Jennings, Green candidate for Congress in Illinois (12th District): "The Democratic and Republican parties and media companies like Fox and ABC have censored the opinions of the majority of Americans, who want to see a quick end to the Iraq War. It's revealing that Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee won in Iowa. Among the frontrunners within their respective parties, they've been the most critical of President Bush's foreign policies. But Mr. Huckabee has only criticized the Bush Administration's strategic blunders in Iraq, rather the war itself. While Mr. Obama has opposed the war, he only favors a vague and delayed timetable for partial withdrawal of troops, which suggests that the occupation will continue in some form regardless of which Democratic frontrunner might be elected in November. Mr. Obama has also added his voice to the military threat against Iran, and says nothing about holding the Bush Administration and war profiteers accountable for their crimes. Unfortunately, voters are being denied the chance to hear the real antiwar candidates and are being told that Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and Ron Paul shouldn't be taken seriously."

John Walsh, Massachusetts Green-Rainbow Party delegate to the Green Party's National Committee: "In recent elections, the Commission on Presidential Debates, the corporate-owned body controlled by the two established parties, has only allowed Democratic and Republican presidential candidates and has barred Green, independent, and other candidates from participating. We urge all Americans -- especially those who oppose bipartisan warhawk policies on Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran -- to speak out in demand of fair elections and election coverage, and inclusion of all qualified candidates in the debates, regardless of their positions or party memberships."

Monday, January 07, 2008

Kucinich Protests Outside NH Democratic Debate That Excluded Him

This video from the Alternet website shows footage of Kucinich outside the ABC debates in New Hampshire. The narrator of the video and Kucinich each make excellent points about why ABC and Facebook, the sponsors of the debate, would exclude a candidate who met their test for inclusion (Kucinich scored over 5% in Facebook's own presidential poll).

Third party candidates are not the only candidates being excluded from debates. The recent exclusion of Dennis Kucinich from the ABC debates and of Ron Paul from the Fox debates shows that candidates seeking to operate within the dominant parties are being excluded when they seek to offer alternative ideas to the electorate. Kucinich and Paul are each presenting an anti-war platform.