Under pressure from the Bush Administration, political parties campaigning in this weekend's so-called "election" in Iraq did not proposed timetables for the withdrawal of US troops from their homeland.
This constraint upon the debate effectively denied the Iraqi people an honest choice. Polls suggest that the majority of Iraqis favor the quick withdrawal of US forces, yet the voters of that battered land were cheated out of a campaign that could have allowed them to send a clear signal of opposition to the occupation.
Despite this disconnect, when the voting was done, Administration aides declared a victory in President's Bush's crusade for "liberty." And thus was born the latest lie of an Administration that has built its arguments for the invasion and occupation of Iraq on a foundation of petty deception and gross deceit.
Thanks to Michael Sylvester, the executive director of Common Cause in Maine, for his letter clarifying some key features of his state's revoutionary Clean Elections Act. I'm pleased to post it below and you can check out Common Cause's website for more info. I'd also like to encourage further dialogue on this topic--and other issues that are addressed in this space--so please click here to send letters to Editor's Cut.
Dear Ms. vanden Heuvel,
I appreciated your recent Editor's Cut reviewing several progressive state initiatives. These laws are models for how we can create change at the local level even when national politics might not leave a very good taste in our mouths.
I wanted to point out, however, that you were mistaken about Clean Elections in Maine. You stated that the Maine State Legislature had approved the Clean Election Act when, in fact, the law is even more revolutionary because it was voted in by Citizen's Initiative in 1996. You also stated that over 50 percent of candidates made use of public financing but the great news is that nearly 80 percent of all candidates used public financing. This number (a hair over 79 percent) includes over 50 percent of Republican candidates and all Green Independent candidates.
The Maine Clean Election Act is an enormous success story and Common Cause is working with our allies to pass a similar law in the state of Connecticut. Yet even the Maine Clean Election Act's success has not stopped attacks on the law. In this legislative session, we will see bills to repeal MCEA and to allow loopholes in the law even as we fight to close loopholes in the current law and to continue to pass progressive legislation including a bill to limit all PACS to a $250 limit, to introduce Instant Run-Off Voting and bills to make election day a state holiday. Keep fighting the good fight in the states. Someday we'll get the chance to roll it out nationally.
Michael Sylvester,Executive Director, Common Cause in Maine
As the violence in Iraq escalates ahead of Sunday's national elections, there are disturbing reports of intimidation, death threats and murders specifically targeting members of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU).
These reports come on the heels of the torture and assassination in Baghdad on January 4 of Hadi Salih, the International Secretary of IFTU.
In protest, please click here to join Nation writers Katha Pollitt, Doug Henwood, Marc Cooper, Adam Shatz, Norman Birnbaum, Carl Bromley and many others in signing on to the Campaign for Peace and Democracy's statement condemning attacks on Iraqi trade unionists.
On issues of war and peace, progressives should take heart from the fact that no matter how aggressive the Bush Administration's intentions may be, its ability to carry them out is likely to be s
Last week, the BBC re-broadcast a provocative documentary series which challenges the idea that Al Qaeda is the center of a uniquely powerful, unified and well-organized international terrorist conspiracy.
"The attacks on September 11th," according to the film's director Adam Curtis--one of Britain's leading documentary filmmakers--"were not the expression of a confident and growing movement. They were acts of desperation by a small group frustrated by their failure which they blamed on the power of America. It is also important," Curtis adds, "to realize that many within the Islamist movement were against this strategy." (This view accords with those held by terrorism experts--like Peter Bergen--who argue that Al Qaeda is largely a spent force that has changed from a tight-knit organization capable of carrying out 9/11 to more of an ideological threat with loose networks in many nations.)
The film also challenges other accepted articles of faith in the so-called war on terror, and documents that much of what we have been told about a centralized, international terrorist threat "is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicans. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services and the international media."
Give Barbara Boxer credit for sparking the most engaged debate that the Senate has yet seen over the Bush Administration lies that led the United States into the quagmire that is Iraq.
Boxer, the California Democrat who has been increasingly vocal in her objections to the Administration's reign of error and excess, seized the opening provided by President Bush's nomination of Condoleezza Rice to serve as Secretary of State to try and force a necessary discussion about the misstatements, misconceptions and misdeeds that Rice and others in the Administration used to make the "case" for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And, to the surprise even of some war foes, she got it.
Yes, of course, Rice's confirmation was certain. In a Senate where the balance is now tipped 55-45 toward a Republican caucus that for the most part puts party loyalty above duty to country, and where there are still too many Democrats who continue to preach the failed "can't-we-all-just-get-along" mantra that has relegated the party to minority status, there was never any chance that the national security advisor's record of failure and deception would prevent her from taking charge of the State Department.
As we remember Johnny Carson's many gifts, perhaps his greatest was his ability to know when it was time to voluntarily step out of the spotlight and never look back. A talent that's all too rare in American life.
It's hard to know if Harvard President Larry Summer's foot-in-mouth disease is the result of nature or nurture, but his political tone deafness was once again on display at a diversity conference where he suggested that women were innately less skilled at math and science then men.
Despite continuing revelations that torture was endemic in Iraq and our efforts to stabilize the country are failing, Donald Rumsfeld not only holds on to his job but apparently is targeting sites in Iran. The septuagenarian should have retired after Afghanistan.