Take Back America Conference provides another glimmer of hope against GilLIESpie and other Republican propagandists
Reagan should NOT be on Mount Rushmore
By Jackson Thoreau
WASHINGTON, D.C. - It's over, and I hope you made it.
Howard Dean was there. So were Hillary Clinton and Rev. Jesse Jackson. And George Soros. And Jim Hightower. And Arianna Huffington. And many others.
The Take Back America Conference, sponsored by Washington progressive think tank Campaign for America's Future June 2-4, was an event not to be missed. As tbe program said, the stakes have never been higher.
One of the highlights was Soros, the billionaire investor who has given more than $15 million recently to Democratic and progressive organizations, talking about how his main goal these days was to re-defeat Bush. He sounded more like a grassroots activist than one of the wealthiest people on the planet. It was heartening to hear him quote George Orwell's Animal Farm in relation to Bush's policies of world domination and pre-emption.
"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others," Soros stated, outlining a key Bush philosophy.
Of course, the RNC -- the Republican Nazi Committee - headed by chairman Ed GilLIESpie, told several lies in issuing a statement on Soros' address that was repeated by most media outlets without correcting the falsehoods. GilLIESpie said that Soros said the abuse of Iraqi prisoners was "the moral equivalent of the slaughter of 3,000 innocent Americans." He never said that.
Soros said the abuse pictures "hit us the same way as the terrorist attack itself. Not quite with the same force because in the terrorist attack we were the victims." He never said the two events were "morally equivalent." Soros added that the war on terror "as conducted by this administration, has claimed more innocent victims that the original attack itself." And that's true, as much as GiLIESpie and other administration propagandists want to believe it's not.
GiLIESpie also lied in calling the Iraqi prisoners "fighters." According to the Red Cross, about as mainstream and nonpartisan an organization out there, between 70 and 90 percent of the prisoners in Iraq are innocent civilians rounded up during mostly nighttime raids by the U.S. and allied militaries. They are not "fighters." Most should not be in prison, as surely as we should not have invaded Iraq.
Don't believe anything most Republicans say these days, especially Republicans like GilLIESpie.
There were many other highlights of the conference. Jobs with Justice and the National Workers' Rights Board sponsored an important hearing highlighting how workers from Comcast, Wackenhut, and other companies are being illegally fired simply for trying to better workplace conditions by attempting to form unions. Sarah Fox, a former member of the National Labor Rights Board, and others called on people to support the Employee Free Choice Act [SB 1925 and HR 3619] being considered by Congress. The proposed bill would help prevent such employer interference by implementing tougher penalties and faster recognition of unions. Fox didn't think the bill would pass under the current Congress and be signed by Bush but was optimistic that would change, hopefully after a Democratic Senate and Kerry were elected this November.
Hightower also alluded to federal reports of increased job figures, noting that a big reason there were more jobs being reported was that people "have to work three jobs just to make enough money to pay the bills." According to the U.S. Labor Department, the largest segment that is creating jobs these days is in retail, which normally yield among the lowest-paying jobs with the fewest benefits.
John Sayles, director of Matewan, City of Hope and other films, talked about his new movie, Silver City, which is due out in September. The parody of Bush, which stars Richard Dreyfuss, Daryl Hannah, Chris Cooper and Kris Kristofferson, was difficult to get a major Hollywood company to produce and distribute it so Sayles and others used most of their own money. Sayles showed some clips of an inarticulate Bush-like politicians talking about "prioritizing your priorities," and it looked like an entertaining movie that should get some people considering voting for Bush to think twice.
Jane Roberts came all the way from California to talk about her project to raise millions for the United Nations Population Fund, which provides reproductive health programs in more than 140 countries. After Bush refused to release $34 million that Congress approved for the program in 2002, Roberts and Lois Abraham have raised more than $2 million on their own. That's one of many examples of programs that Bush has cut, as he gives more money to super wealthy people like himself and Cheney and large corporations like Halliburton, the company Cheney headed right before he picked himself as vice president.
Numerous organizations, from the ACLU and People for the American Way, distributed material on various issues and campaigns. The League of Conservation Voters, a nonpartisan organization that gave Bush an "F" for his environmental policies, has embarked on a campaign to defeat Bush. The organization normally endorses candidates for president, but a representative said such a campaign to defeat a sitting president was unusual. That's another example of how Bush has been a "uniter, not a divider," by uniting many groups and individuals against him.
The Progressive Majority distributed an interesting brochure on how the large majority of polls show that Ralph Nader will help Bush again. Nader, who is getting much of his funding from Republicans, has said that his campaign will help defeat Bush, but that is not the case. Nader is endorsed by right-wing parties like the Reform Party, which ran far-right Patrick Buchanan in 2000. Nader is almost as big a liar as Bush. He should just join the Republican Party - at least then he would be more honest. More information on Nader can be viewed at DontVoteRalph.net, a project of the Progressive Unity Voter Fund.
There have been quite a few glimmers of hope from the response to the Iraqi prisoner crisis to the decline in public support for Bush - for progressives lately. The Campaign for America's Future conference was one more. Meetings like this can provide the impetus for future change. It depends on where we take it from here.
Reagan should NOT be on Mount Rushmore
Elsewhere, I have to comment on the BS piling up in remembering Ronald Reagan. Some are saying he should be on Mount Rushmore. I say that naming a building and airport in D.C. after him is sickening enough.
Beyond the cruel budget cuts, huge nuclear buildup, and policy to engage in a limited nuclear war against the former Soviet Union that almost got us all killed in the 1980s, Reagan reportedly had sex with mistress Christine Larson as Nancy Reagan gave birth to daughter Patti. How's that for Republican hypocrisy? They impeach Clinton for having a private affair and want to put Reagan, who did the same thing, up on Mount Rushmore.
When I went to college in the late 1970s, I qualified for federal grants, which I did not have to repay. My sister and brother, who started attending college in the 1980s, had to get loans they had to repay. That's one example of the cruel budget cuts under Reaganhood. People say Reagan's nuclear buildup led to us "winning" the Cold War. I was in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the 1980s, and I witnessed first-hand how the people there led the changes that made the Soviet Union collapse. Read Robert Scheer's With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush & Nuclear War to see how close Reagan led us into a fatal nuclear war.
Reagan drove deficits way up while funneling more money to the super wealthy and taking money from the needy, leading to huge increases in homelessness, poverty, and income disparity. He illegally gave money to the Nicaraguan Contras while illegally selling arms to Iran. He supported Saddam Hussein and other dictators through the CIA. In the 1950s, Reagan joined the McCarthyism witch hunts against progressives who they called communists, a trend that is returning these days. As an actor, Reagan could read lines in a forceful enough way to fool enough Americans into voting for him.
Greed was good under Reagan. I don't think that's the kind of legacy I want to leave when I depart from this land. But that is apparently the kind of legacy embraced by many Republicans.
Still, for all his shortcomings, I'd rather have Reagan in the White House than Bush Jr., the most unqualified president in U.S. history. That's not a high compliment, but it's the best I can do under the circumstances.
Jackson Thoreau is a Washington, D.C.-area journalist/writer. The latest book to which he contributed, Big Bush Lies, is available from RiverWood Books of Ashland, Ore., at http://www.riverwoodbooks.com/books/Big-Bush-Lies.html.