Sunday, September 16, 2007

Hard Rain Journal 9-17-07: An Open Letter to Al Gore -- The List, & What Will Happen to the USA & the Planet if We Don't Address It In 2008

According to Jeffrey Toobin’s new book on the Supreme Court, Justice David Souter nearly resigned in the wake of Bush v. Gore, so distraught was he over the decision that effectively ended the Florida recount and installed George W. Bush as president.
In “The Nine,” which goes on sale Sept. 18, Toobin writes that while the other justices tried to put the case behind them, “David Souter alone was shattered,” at times weeping when he thought of the case. “For many months, it was not at all clear whether he would remain as a justice,” Toobin continues.
Democratic Underground, 9-4-07

Gore: ... I fear that I’m losing my objectivity where President Bush and Cheney are concerned. Not much surprises me anymore. I have a lot of friends who share the following problem with me: Our sense of outrage is so saturated that when a new outrage occurs, we have to download some existing outrage into an external hard drive in order to make room for a new outrage. 02138 (Harvard Alumni Magazine), Sept.-Oct. 2007

Hard Rain Journal 9-17-07: An Open Letter to Al Gore -- The List, & What Will Happen to the USA & the Planet if We Don't Address It In 2008

By Richard Power

Dear Al,

No, I am not writing to ask you to run for president. Although, I want you to.

I know Jimmy Carter has asked you to run repeatedly, and I doubt you would heed me if you didn't heed him.

And, of course, I do not expect anything at all to happen prior to your being announced as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in October. (I assume that as a foregone conclusion.)

I do not know if entering the race would be the best move for the country or the planet; and it is hard to imagine it could be the best move for you or your family.

But you and I both know that neither the planet nor our republic have much time left, unless some radical steps are taken environmentally and politically.

And I have a strong feeling about what you should do after you win the Nobel Peace Prize, whether it is as a candidate or not.

You must interject yourself somehow into this race.

If not as the campaign's superman insurgent, then at least as its ultimate conscience and catalyst. You must (and can) make a profound difference in this campaign.

You must speak out, whether you run or not.

Wesley Clark's endorsement of Sen. Hilary Clinton is a strange moment for many of us. Like Ambassador Joe Wilson, who also recently endorsed Clinton, Gen. Clark was at the vanguard of resistance to the Bush-Cheney national insecurity team and its Iraq war party (of both Republicans and Democrats) in the House and Senate.

In recent months, Gen. Clark has also distinguished himself by working with to lead an on-line struggle to thwart the Bush-Cheney national insecurity team's drive to start a war with Iran.

Unfortunately, Sen. Clinton was on the wrong side of the invasion and occupation of Iraq from the beginning. After both public opinion in the USA and the facts on the ground in Iraq fell though the floor, she shifted her position to avoid the fate of John McCain; but unlike John Edwards, she has yet to come clean and get out in front of the issue.

Nor has Sen. Clinton proven herself above war-mongering or pandering to the right concerning Iran.

Of course, Sen. Clinton deserves great respect as the first woman to be within striking distance of winning the presidency.

She also deserves great respect for having withstood the assault of Ken Starr (who perverted his Special Prosecutor status to launch a partisan pogrom), as well as the Cult formerly known as the Republican Party's effort to impeach her husband.

But neither the historic significance of a serious female contender, nor the badge of honor she wears for having survived Starr and impeachment, trumps the imperatives of where the country is today, and what our circumstances demand from the next President. And so far, Sen. Clinton has shown us nothing on this score that would make Rupert Murdoch pause before writing her another check.

I have tremendous respect for Clark and Wilson. I also have tremendous respect for Zbigniew Brzezinski, who has recently endorsed Obama.

All three men, Clark, Wilson and Brzezinski have spoken out with courage and clarity of mind over these last few horrendous years. And I take some solace in the knowledge that they have the ears of the two frontrunners, but ...

The 2008 election is for control of the House, the Senate and the Presidency, and the campaign must be waged on the issue of where we are, how we got here and where we are going.

Something is very wrong with our republic, and if we miss the moment, or misunderstand what it is demanding of us, well, we will not be able to save it, or civilization, or the planet as we know it, either ...

How could the Bush-Cheney cabal seize power in 2000, and hold on to it in 2004?

Certainly not because you sighed and were wrongly characterized as a "serial exaggerator," or because John Kerry looked "French" or was wrongly characterized as a "flip-flopper," or even because of Monica Lewinsky's blue dress in 2000 (few voters really cared) or because the people felt safer with Bush-Cheney in 2004 (they didn't).

Bush-Cheney were able to seize power and hold on to it, because our political system is sick, perhaps terminally, certainly critically.

Corporatism has corrupted the mainstream news media, through monopolization and budget-cutting; and it is choking the life out of our electoral process, through a campaign financing system which has become tantamount to bribery, and a voting system which has had both its security and integrity compromised.

You know this.

The content of your MoveOn sponsored speeches, and your book, Assault on Reason, prove that you know this.

The 2008 campaign should not be waged in a business as usual way, and that is my greatest concern about Sen. Clinton.

She is running as if the last seven years had not happened; and so is Sen. Obama for the most part. That's why their coffers are full.

You know this.

The point is not that the Bush-Cheney regime has been corrupt or incompetent, or that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was mismanaged, or that Bush is heedless, or that Cheney is ruthless, or even that both men have been treated with deference and allowed to remain in office despite the fact that they are pathologically disturbed.

The point is that our republic is in deep trouble; and those who wage hip-hip-hurray, happy-days-are-here-again campaigns are living in denial, whether like Sen. Clinton, they stress long careers of advocacy, or like Sen. Obama, they articulate some high-minded idealism.

If the real issues are not addressed, if there real problems are not exposed, if the real dangers are not confronted -- we will end up with a crypto-fascist like Giuliani, Romney or Thompson (or some combo of any two thereof) in the Oval Office.

You know this.

What are the real issues, the real problems and the real dangers?

What litany should every aspiring presidential, senatorial or congressional candidate's stump speech include?

Of course, health care and economic populism should at the cutting edge of our campaign messaging, BUT the List must not be ignored.

What is the List?

Everyone of us, whose lives have been changed by what has happened in the USA since December 2000, has some version of the List burning in our consciousness.

You have one inside of you. I know you do. And I know it looks a lot like mine.

But this List is not simply about the Bush-Cheney years, it is not simply about what the Bush-Cheney regime did to this nation, it is not simply about what the Cult formerly known as the Republican Party, including all of its presidential candidates, did to this nation.

It is also about what the US mainstream news media was, at best, wholly complicit in enabling, and at worst, a full partner in bringing into being.

Unfortunately, it is also about what significant and powerful elements within the Democratic Party allowed to proceed unchallenged, and in some cases, even participated in.

Here's my version of the List:

1. The thefts of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections in Florida and Ohio respectively

2. The denial of global warming

3. The refusal to act before 9/11, and the refusal to focus on Bin Laden and Zawahiri after 9/11

4. The invasion and occupation of Iraq, predicated on lies, and launched for short-term political gain, war-profiteering, oil company interests, and a neo-con fantasy of empire, which includes extending this foolish military adventure into Iran and Syria

5. The almost incomprehensible, seemingly willful failure to act before, during and after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans

6. The shameless politicization of the US Justice Department, including the obstruction of corruption cases against Republican office-holders, the fabrication of false charges and wrongful prosecutions against Democratic officials, the use of Federal authority to promote caging and other voter suppression tactics, and the firing of US attorneys who refused to comply

7. Flagrant violations of the US Constitution (e.g., the Bill of Rights), as well as US law (e.g., FISA) and international law (e.g., UN Charter, Geneva Accords, etc.) by carrying out secret programs that include the torture and "extraordinary rendition" prisoners in our custody, the warrant-less spying on US citizens and the suspension of Habeas Corpus

8. The betrayal of a US secret agent's Valerie Plame's identity, the murder of US Special Forces warrior Pat Tillman, and the wanton cover-ups of both outrages

9. The contempt for the separation of Church and State exhibited in the ban on stem cell research funding and the interference in Terri Shiavo's death with dignity

10. Ill-timed, unfair and unnecessary tax cuts that gutted the Treasury, and (along with the cost of the debacle in Iraq) plunged the US government back into spiraling debt.

11. The lifetime Supreme Court appointments of Roberts and Alito, both of whom are "Unitary Executive" fantasists.

Of course, there are many more abominations not included in my version of the List, e.g., the Enron scandal, the Abramhoff scandal, the prostitution of the EPA, the FDA, Mining Safety, the GSA, etc.

But the eleven items on my version of the List include crimes against humanity, nature and the US Constitution that must not be put out of our minds in the coming year. If they are put out of our minds, we are in for much worse.

You know this.

I understand the strategy of triangulation.

But I do not think it is going to work this time -- the Center is gone, so there is nothing to triangulate toward.

Furthermore, it is important that all progressives and centrists be made to look at the Clinton-Gore presidency in a new light --

All its delicious, life-giving fruit was left to rot on the vine -- e.g., the peace dividend, the surplus, the identification of global warming as a national security issue, full engagement as a fair broker between Israel and the Palestinians, etc.

All its bitter, poisoned fruits was harvested and shoved down our throats -- e.g., the so-called free trade agreements, which have done much more to hurt the US worker than illegal immigration, and the Telecommunications Act of 1996, that delivered the coup de grace to journalism in the US mainstream news media.

"Fix it later," that was our cry. But "later" never came.

You know this is true.

The List must not be forgotten.

To invoke it at every campaign stop is not running against outgoing Bush-Cheney regime, it is running against those who enabled it, notably the Cult formerly known as the Republican Party, which has, by its participation in these crimes against humanity, nature and the US Constitution, forfeited its right to rule for at least the next decade.

But there is another reason the List must not be forgotten, and should, indeed, be invoked at every campaign stop -- because it is also an indictment of those in the US mainstream news media, who lied to themselves and to their audiences, and of those in the Democratic Party, who out of political expediency and/or cravenness chose to remain silent.

It is not just that the Bush-Cheney regime should be called out and condemned for what has happened to this country. Nor is it just that the Bush-Cheney regime and its enablers in the Cult formerly known as the Republican Party should be called out and condemned for what has happened to this country.

The US mainstream news media should also be called out and condemned.

Why hasn't all of America seen the video-tape of Bush asking nothing, demanding nothing, as he was told that the levees were going to break in New Orleans?

And yes, sadly, the leadership of the Democratic Party has to answer some very hard and embarrassing questions about its seeming failure and capitulation.

When will Sens. Clinton, Obama, Biden and Dodd be asked why they did not personally lead filibusters of the Alito and Roberts nominations?

The 2008 campaign at all levels -- presidential, senatorial and congressional -- must not be a referendum on the abominations of the Bush-Cheney years, or even a referendum on the Bush-Cheney years versus the Clinton-Gore years, it must be a referendum on the political establishment of Beltwayistan and the corporatist media monopolies it sleeps with.

You know this.

You will say it differently. You are a statesman. You will reach across the aisle. You will offer succor. You will speak to people's better angels and appeal to their higher natures. I know, I know.

But inside of you, I know you too have this List; it is burning in your consciousness.

I know, like many of us, you want to nail it to the doors of the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the board rooms of CNN, ABC, NBC and CBS. I know this.

I do not know if you should run.

But whether or not you do, please interject yourself into this race.

Please, at least, demand that Clinton and Obama speak to this List of crimes against humanity, nature and the US Constitution, and to what will happen to this country if the items on this List are not addressed.

You can start by speaking out in the months after you have won the Nobel Peace Prize.

You can critique the frontrunners stands on vital issues. You can critique the level, tone and content of the national debate.

Then after you hold the attention of the planet for the length of your acceptance speech in December, you can ratchet up the intensity, and parlay it, by either entering the race or endorsing someone deserving, like John Edwards, or Bill Richardson, or Dennis Kucinich (as you did for Dean in 2004).

In Open Letter to Democratic Primary & Caucus Voters -- Turn This Race Upside Down!, I similarly urged that people vote for whichever one of these three candidates are within striking distance of the two designated frontrunners.

Edwards, in particular, has a shot at changing the dynamic of the race, and an well-timed, heart-felt endorsement from you at a critical moment early on could help him immensely.

Like you, Edwards knows what it means to face personal tragedy. Like you, he also knows what it is to win and have it stolen away from you. Like you, he knows that the most important thing to do is to use the time he has to make a real difference.

Thank you for An Inconvenient Truth. Thank you for Live Earth. Thank you for Assault on Reason. Thank you for your MoveOn and American Constitution Society speeches. Thank you for Current TV. Thank you for all you have done.

But the 2008 elections may be our last chance at rescuing the planet as well as the republic, and for redeeming civilization as well as our country,

You know this.

If you feel should run, please run.

You have the moral authority, the financial wherewithal, and the political capital to make a profound difference.

If you feel should not run, then please use the gravitas and political capital you have amassed to change the course of the race.

Your fellow patriot, and planetary citizen,

Richard Power

For an archive of Words of Power posts on Campaign '08, click here.

To sign petitions urging Gore to run in 2008, go to Pledge for Gore and Draft Gore.

For a clearing house of Gore-related information, go to the Gore Hub.

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