SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
This weekend, activist list-serves and web-sites were crackling with furious debate over whether or not progressives should be voting for President Obama this time around or helping to build a third party organization. For those in the latter camp, the list of the President's failures (and not just failures, but dreadful acts of commission) rendered support for him a perfidious moral choice. That indictment extended as well to the Congressional Democrats, who had a majority in 2009 and blew the chance to make constructive changes.
The take-away from the past four years, it was argued, is that the two mainstream parties are so completely dominated by corporate America that they are incapable of acting in the public interest. This perception is not simply confined to the third-party advocates. I suspect there are few readers on this web-site, who have not been stunned at times, and disappointed at how the 2008 mandate for "change" has been squandered.
One candidate's father was not born in America
He came here and got on welfare even scarier
His religion is different not Christian like the tradition
Plus he went to Harvard for law and business now listen
This might shock you so I'm gonna say it calmly
That candidates name is Mitt Romney
When should a sitting president be re-elected? Gone is the audacity of hope. A sitting president must live up to the monotony of administration. Candidates can ask to be evaluated based on their words, and candidate Obama offered us great words in 2008. For a sitting president, however, words aren't enough. For a sitting president, re-election should be based on performance in office.
The performance of the president isn't the same thing as the success of the country or its citizens. It is plain wrong to ask "are you better off than you were four years ago?" and expect the president to deliver. Presidents are not omnipotent. They do not control the world economy, foreign countries, or the planet Earth.
In the last debate, Romney claimed that energy production on federal lands had declined 14 percent this year. He failed to mention that the decline was due to the reevaluation which occurred after the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf in 2010. Overall fossil fuel extraction has been increasing on public lands during the Obama administration, which issued 400 new leases for oil and gas exploration even after the rules were tightened in the wake of the Gulf oil spill.
But most of the rise in fuel production comes from a boom in fracking in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and elsewhere in the U.S. Environmentalists have called for disclosure of the chemical composition of fracking fluids used on public lands. And they want to see more stringent regulation of potential groundwater pollution and leakage of methane, a greenhouse gas, during the drilling process. The Obama administration, however, has shown little appetite for regulating this lucrative new industry.
Canvassing, and going door-to-door talking with people about President Barack Obama in the liberal college town of Gainesville, Florida this fall has brought me face-to-face with a reality that I generally don’t have to face as a university professor. In some of the wealthier areas of the city, people slammed doors in my face, yelled at me, and told me to get the hell out of their neighborhoods. Some cursed vehemently, like the spandex-clad bicyclist who emerged from his 3000+ square foot house to tell me: “I will never vote for that fucking asshole.” One young man glared at me and said: “I support Israel, therefore I cannot vote for that man.” (Funny, I didn’t realize that Israel was even on the ballot!).
Prop 32 is arguably the most deceptive initiative in the hundred-year history of ballot propositions in California. Indeed, if California had a Truth-In-Politics Act, some of its sponsors may well be facing lengthy spells in San Quentin.
The so-called "stop special interest money now" initiative is a cynical attempt to mislead voters by claiming it would reduce the influence of big money in Sacramento. It wouldn't. On the contrary, it would make the corruption of our elections by big money much worse.
Unless you are a Climate Change denier, you know we are crossing ecological thresholds quickly. Hurricane Sandy was a serious warning. A friend wrote to me that Hurricane Sandy took the elections off the media, but I'm inclined to think that Hurricane Sandy was a last minute wake-up call and is extremely relevant to Tuesday’s election.
Supposedly this election’s outcome is "razor-thin." That's a great way to make you feel obligated to vote for one of the Tweedles—either for dee or for dum. “Razor thin” is persuasive media gimmickry. There’s nothing razor thin about this election.
So what if global warming isn't directly responsible for "superstorm Sandy"? Let's not get hung up on that minor detail.
Because the planet has warmed--the average surface temperature of the Earth rose 1.08°F to 1.62°F (0.6 to 0.9 °C) between 1906 and 2006-- the cryosphere has melted, moving H2O from the ice caps to the oceans.
And seawater has literally expanded. As a result, sea level has risen—worldwide measurements of sea level show a rise of about 0.56 feet ((0.17 meters) during the twentieth century.
Since the US economy is the main issue on the minds of voters this election season, let's talk about Unmanned Arial Vehicles strikes - drones strikes - in economic terms.
The use of drones for strikes in places like Yemen and Pakistan seems, to many, a justifiable short term investment. It's less expensive in dollars than Special Forces operations or a full scale deployment and almost all of the human cost - on the US side - is removed. However, this is a very poor, shortsighted investment with huge longer term risk. The likely long term outcome will be great US losses, and, riskiest of all, moral bankruptcy.
If you ask Google "Has American Democracy been destroyed?" you get 56,800,000 answers. You don't need an exact count to see that the yeas have it. It is straightforward to list members of a set of sufficient, already existent conditions to kill our democracy. The list is not complete, but it is enough to decide whether the Democracy is still viable.
Classical government takeovers involve potential resistance from the existing government branches, the military, the free press and the people. The roles of future elections, education and the success or failure of the financial infrastructure are crucial.