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Who took America? Take Back America conference asks some tough questions

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This year's annual Take Back America conference, as expected, had its moments. In fact, it might have been the best one yet.
And that wasn't just because the meeting of some 3,000 progressives in Washington, D.C., organized by the Campaign for America's Future debuted my new book on Bush, Cheney, Rove & Co. called "Born to Cheat."
Progressive bloggers were recognized by Ned Lamont - the Democratic anti-war candidate who beat Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary only to lose the general election last year when Republican voters ganged up on him - and others in a fitting tribute as the force they are. executive director Eli Pariser, Code Pink leaders like Medea Benjamin and others urged attendees to pressure Democratic leaders during the upcoming election campaign to end the Iraqi war or "face political extinction." As OpedNews publisher Rob Kall put it, the strategy is straight-forward; Democrats control Congress and have the power to cut funding for the war. We have to hold the Democrats' feet to the fire.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who won's straw poll over John Edwards and Hillary Clinton, delivered a stirring speech, one that conference organizers called "an uncharacteristically confrontational performance." Obama criticized the Bush administration for unconstitutional actions and attacked Washington's culture of lobbying.
"They think they own this government, but we are here to tell them today that our government is not for sale and we are taking it back," Obama said.
Actor Jason Alexander, also known as "George Costanza" on Seinfeld, asked the eternal question, "Who took America?" He consulted with conservatives - many of whom are strippers, according to Alexander - who didn't feel like they owned America. He didn't think Bush-Cheney-Rove were smart enough to take and hold onto America, as last year's elections displayed. Even big business and special interests and millionaires that like to cavort around elitist clubs didn't really take America, Alexander said.
He neglected to mention Christopher Columbus and other Europeans who took America from the natives. But of course, he couldn't include everybody.
"No one really took America," said Alexander, a progressive voice on Bill Maher's show who made people forget about Kramer's racist outburst. "We all gave it away, little by little."
But to whom? And did anyone really ever have America in the first place? Those are tough questions.
Ralph Nader even showed up and was booed more soundly than Hillary when she said the Iraqi government was most to blame for problems in Iraq.
Oh, and if Ben & Jerry's or another ice cream company comes out with a Code Pink anti-war flavor, I can claim credit for that idea. It was my suggestion for the group to help gets its message out to more Americans during a strategy session.
Ben & Jerry's has had an impact on the corporate world, helping to make some of the most stodgiest companies a little more bearable for employees through its example. Code Pink ice cream just might have its own impact, helping the anti-war message get through to Americans in a more subtle method.
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Jackson Thoreau is the pen name of a Washington, D.C.-area journalist/writer. Books include Not Our President: The Movement for Democracy and Against GOP Fascism [updated in 2022], The King of the Internet [2019], and Born to (more...)

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