Let me ask you something: how do you think this is all going to end?
Do you suppose that somehow, magically, presto-chango, everything will all turn out for the best? If so, why do you think that? Because it always has, you say? Because this is America, the best country on earth. Because it always turns out well, in the end; we have a democracy in place, a republic, we are the shining beacon to the world and we have a Congress who will look out for us. In the end. Oh, they might squabble and fuss with each other, but in the long run, they care.
Listen up. They don’t care. No-one is going to worry about jobs or unemployment, unless you count ending unemployment benefits as ‘caring’ in some sense of the word. They aren’t going to worry over environmental concerns or toxic shit in your food and water. They don’t care if you die or how well you live while you are around.
Everyone has their list of things you won’t hear about during the debates and election season. Most of the lists are accurate just by default: the truth is you aren’t going to hear much about anything. Here are a few items you won’t hear about, if I may be so bold as to add to the lists. The crap in our food. [See my previous entry on arsenic in the rice supply.] The ongoing leak at the Macando well site in the Gulf of Mexico and the continuing ruin of the Gulf and its ecosystem. People getting sick and dying from fracking compounds entering the water system. [http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/10/19-2] The truth about tar sands oil. [http://www.alternet.org/environment/why-scientists-are-alarm-mode-over-keystone-xl-pipeline?akid=9551.201112.WeLlkF&rd=1&src=newsletter729731&t=19&paging=off]
The ground under Fukushima Unit 4 is sinking and the structure is on the verge of complete collapse. [http://www.naturalnews.com/037556_Fukushima_power_plant_collapse.html] In response to growing angst about nuclear power, our regulatory agencies have weakened regulations for nuclear facilities here in the US. [See http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/06/20/national/main20072497.shtml and this: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/10/nrc-whistleblowers-higher-risk-of-nuclear-melt-down-in-u-s-than-fukushima.html]
The massive data-base center in Utah that is going to be used to store and sort all the emails and phone calls that the NSA is collecting from us. [http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/]
The latest IAEA report on Iran’s lack of nuclear ambitions. [“…The next debate, on Monday, will be mostly on foreign policy; would any of these candidates please show some respect to US – and world – public opinion and at least acknowledge the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, released last month? These are the two money quotes. (1) The IAEA is confident about ‘the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran’; and (2) The IAEA can ‘conclude that all nuclear materials in Iran is in peaceful activities.’ …” – http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/NJ18Aa03.html]
In retaliation for the Benghazi attack, Obama plans to drone-bomb a extra country or two. Because, why not? Let’s kill them all. [http://news.yahoo.com/white-house-mulls-strike-over-libya-attack-173210396–election.html] I must say, Mali? How many countries are we drone-bombing now? Maybe at this point it would be easier to count the ones we are not.
Or how about we talk about this: turns out our ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, who was killed in Benghazi a couple of weeks ago, was secretly arming the “rebels” in Libya during the “uprising”. A few brave journalists used the word ‘ironic’ to describe his death at the hands of those he armed just last year – but not a one wondered why a “diplomat” was running around Libya like some special operations secret agent encouraging, indeed, facilitating, Islamist extremists and members of al Qaeda, most of whom came in from different countries or who were CIA assets, to rise up against a government that we (and Stevens specifically) previously supported. We neither know nor care the correct definitions of the words ‘diplomat’ and ‘diplomacy’ and so no-one minded the revelations about Stevens’ real role in Libya.
Or how about this: can someone explain why we are still under a State of Emergency eleven years after 9/11? And are we operating under the Continuity of Government Plans that Bush enacted or are we not? Congress does not seem to know if we are – but then, they aren’t even privy to what the CoG plans are exactly. And why the hell is that?
But we will adapt to these things, so there is no need to talk them to death. No need to talk about them at all, come to think of it. Someone will take care of things. We don’t really want to hear about hunger in America or the grand theft of all the hard assets in the world perpetrated by the big banks. No difficult discussions about entirely rethinking our relationship to money and economy. We can’t be bothered to wonder about the intelligence gathering agencies being turned on us or drone technology and the like. I would point out, as did Aristotle, that “what it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do”, but that is hard thinkin’ type stuff. Homo sapiens sapiens; we are so sure we are the pinnacle of evolution that we put the “wise” in there twice. So you get to vote for Obama or Romney. You get to listen to endless jokes about Big Bird. (Really? Big Bird from Sesame Street? Are you for fucking real?) Now, I can’t vote for a guy who made more money on the money he had already inherited by shipping jobs overseas and wrecking businesses, and who says quite clearly that he wants to take away all the social benefits we have in order to give more money to rich assholes like himself. And who supports more spending on the Pentagon. Nor can I vote for the man who claims the right to kill me arbitrarily, or have me detained without trial. That Romney also agrees he would use this power does not mitigate the fact that Obama was the one who signed this bill into law and has, in fact, been using it. I cannot vote for someone who claims the right to end my life at his whim. Listen – the majority in the House and everyone in the Senate voted ‘yes’ to the 2012 NDAA, giving the President this power and undoing 500 years of what we understand as our most basic right. (Think about that when you consider re-electing your Congressman to office. This is how much these guys really care about you.) Obama signed the bill into law. Romney thinks it is good law and says ‘absolutely’, he would use it. So which is the lesser of two evils? Both these guys claim the right to kill you at their discretion, no arrest, no trial, just fucking kill you. Do you get that?
One would think that we would have enough of this at some point. One would think that finally enough is egoddamnednough and no-one would listen to these guys any more, much less vote for them to be in charge of our welfare and well-being. One would be wrong. Apparently we just can’t get enough of the sickening and strange free-fall ride we are now embarked upon.
But here is the main thing you won’t hear about before the election; there are other candidates for president running for the office aside from Obama and Romney. None of them will be at the next debate, just as none were at the first two debates. The media won’t mention them. As a matter of fact, I suspect that the only reason Obama is running is not a desire to stay in office (let’s face it, he will be in the history books as the first black president, so what else does he need the office for? He never intended to fulfill any of his ‘promises’ anyway, that much is obvious), so much as making sure that we do not hear about any of the other candidates or parties on the ballot. With Obama running, it remains a race between the two parties and we are chided, on the rare occasions that anyone mentions third parties at all, that a vote for a third party candidate is a “wasted vote”. Yet no-one can explain how we ever get any other parties into the running if we never vote for them. No-one can explain how it is that in most other democratic countries there are multiple parties represented and yet somehow their elections work. Hell, no-one can adequately explain what the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans even is any more. The media and the two main political parties will do anything to keep you from considering anything outside their prescribed norms.
They work this pretty well. According to the rules of the debate committee, the Commission on Presidential Debates, a candidate can be included in the debate if s/he has support from “at least 15 percent of the national electorate as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations.” So what they do is make sure that other parties or candidates are not mentioned in the polls. Et voila. The debates have sponsors, too, and although no-one knows exactly what the sponsors do, they are supposed to be bipartisan and unable to influence the debate process. The 2012 sponsors are:
The Howard G. Buffett Foundation
Sheldon S. Cohen, Esq.
Crowell & Moring LLP
International Bottled Water Association (IBWA)
The Kovler Fund
Anheuser-Busch is not even an American company any longer. It was purchased by InBev in ’08. InBev is a Belgian-Brazilian company.
The Howard Buffett Foundation is currently working on a project to help eradicate hunger in America. With Monsanto. Through genetically modified food. (Dead people are not hungry people, or such is the theory.)
“Farmer and philanthropist Howard Buffett challenged all American farmers to donate the profits from at least one acre of their harvest to their local food banks in an effort to eradicate hunger nationwide. Buffett, the son of Omaha billionaire investor Warren Buffett, pushed for the donations during his keynote address at the Iowa Hunger Summit, part of the World Food Prize activities on Tuesday in Des Moines. Buffett’s private foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, has partnered with agricultural companies ADM and Monsanto and the hunger-fighting charity Feeding America to create the Invest an Acre program.[…]” – http://www.equities.com/news/headline-story?dt=2012-10-19&val=614709&cat=material
From wikipedia on Crowell and Moring LLP:
“Crowell & Moring represented Blackwater Worldwide in the investigation after a series of deadly shootouts in the Iraqi capital left several Iraqi security agents and civilians dead in May 2007. According to the Legal Times, two other large defense contractors, Erinys Iraq and Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport Co., are among the firm’s clients. Crowell also routinely counsels companies bidding for government contracts and in oversight investigations that sometimes result from those contracts.”
The International Bottled Water Assoc. Bringing you privatized water and bisphenol-A globally.
So you did not see Dr. Jill Stein, Green Party, at the debates. You did not see her running mate, Cheri Honkala, at the vice presidential debate. (The Green Party was founded in 1991, so it is not exactly an exotic new group.) Matter of fact, during the most recent debate, they were tied up. Literally.
You may have noticed that the Green Party presidential candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, was absent from the “town hall” presidential debate at Hofstra University the other night. That’s because she was shackled to a chair in a nearby New York police facility, along with her running mate, Green Party vice president nominee Cheri Honkala. Their crime: attempting to get to the debate so Stein could participate in it. While Mitt Romney uttered the now-famous line that he was given “whole binders full of women” while seeking staff as newly-elected governor of Massachusetts in 2002, the real binders were handcuffs used to shackle these two women, who are mothers, activists and the Green Party’s presidential ticket for 2012.
I interviewed Stein the day after the debate, after their imprisonment (which ended, not surprisingly, not long after the debate ended). She told me: “We are on the ballot for 85 percent of voters. Americans deserve to know what their choices are. The police said they were only doing job. I said, ‘This is about everyone’s jobs, whether we can afford health care, whether students will be indentured.’ There are critical issues left out of the debate. Ninety million voters are predicted to stay home and vote with their feet that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney represent them. That’s twice as many voters than expected for either of them.”
Even if Stein and Honkala hadn’t been hauled off a public street and handcuffed to those chairs for eight hours, Stein’s exclusion from the debate was certain. The debates are very closely controlled by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), which excludes third-party candidates, among other things. George Farah is the founder and executive director of Open Debates, and author of “No Debate: How the Republican and Democratic Parties Secretly Control the Presidential Debates.” Farah told me on the morning of the Hofstra debate about how the CPD gained control over the debates from the nonpartisan League of Women Voters: “We have a private corporation that was created by the Republican and Democratic parties called the Commission on Presidential Debates. It seized control of the presidential debates precisely because the League was independent, precisely because this women’s organization had the guts to stand up to the candidates that the major parties had nominated.”
The League of Women Voters allowed third-party candidate John B. Anderson to participate in a presidential debate in 1980, and in the decade that followed, the two major parties, Republican and Democrat, sparred with the League. In 1988, the parties tried to force the League into a contract detailing how the debates would be run. Farah explained: “It talked about who could be in the audience and how the format would be structured, but the League found that kind of lack of transparency and that kind of candidate control to be fundamentally outrageous and antithetical to our democratic process. They released the contract and stated they refuse to be an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American people and refuse to implement it.”
Farah said that early contract was “tame” compared with the binding contract, leaked to Time magazine this week, that governed the so-called town hall, moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley. The 21-page “Memorandum of Understanding” includes a reference to their standards for candidate eligibility to participate. The CPD requires that a candidate have support from “at least 15 percent of the national electorate as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations.” This is a classic Catch-22. In order to debate, you must have broad support. In order to earn public support, candidates without huge campaign war chests need the access that the televised debates offer. So the Democrats and Republicans control the debates, and limit the public’s access to alternative views.
If the Green Party’s nominee, Jill Stein, had been allowed to debate, what might the public have heard? To find out, our “Democracy Now!” news hour went ahead and invited major third-party candidates to participate in the debate, virtually, the morning after. In addition to Stein, we had Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party and Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party (Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson declined).
Instead of the Obama/Romney debate, where each attempted to trumpet his superior commitment to fossil-fuel extraction, the public would have heard Jill Stein say, “We support a Green New Deal, which will put everyone back to work, at the same time that it puts a halt to climate change and it makes wars for oil obsolete.” Climate change is simply not discussed in these debates.
That’s just one example. Imagine if we had a functional electoral system, with genuine, vigorous, representative debates. Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala are on the ballot in 38 states, and available as write-ins for the rest. Rocky Anderson, with his new Justice Party, is on in 15 states. Now that the candidates have been unshackled, it’s time to unshackle the debates.
From their own website:
Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala are now free from police custody after eight hours handcuffed to a metal chair in a remote police warehouse on Long Island. The Green Party presidential and vice-presidential candidates were arrested earlier today as they attempted to enter the grounds of today’s presidential debate organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD).
News of the incident spread quickly around the world via media coverage carried on ABC, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Democracy Now!, and many other channels, as well as via social media, trending on Twitter, for example, as far away as Egypt.
On her release, Dr. Stein said that, “It was painful but symbolic to be handcuffed for all those hours, because that what the Commission on Presidential Debates has essentially done to American democracy.” Stein and Honkala were eventually released into the cold at 10:30pm. Police provided no advance notice of the release to campaign lawyers and staff, and did not allow the two candidates to make any phone calls.
Cheri Honkala called her incarceration, “extremely uncomfortable, but standard for what so many Americans face on a daily basis in our corrections system.” Added Stein Campaign Manager Ben Manski, “These arrests and this treatment are outrageous and disportionate; who do the police think they are protecting here?” […]
This happened in America. This is how we treat presidential candidates in this country now, if they are not from one of the two main parties; we zip-tie them to chairs for eight hours for doing a mild bit of protesting. This country and its form of democracy only came into existence because of civil disobedience, as did most of our cherished but now-disappearing civil rights. But that is one of those hard thinkin’ type things you may decide not to ponder on.