This past weekend, thousands of activists gathered at Los Alamos and other prominent nuclear facilities across the country to mark the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Japan. As demonstrators chanted "No more Hiroshimas! No more Nagasakis!," President Bush chose to honor the anniversary in another way: by proceeding with his plans to build newer, even more powerful nukes.
Last month, the Senate approved Bush's initial request of $4 million for research on a "robust nuclear earth penetrator" (RNEP)--a bomb that George Monbiot of the UK Guardian writes, has "a yield about 10 times that of the Hiroshima device." For all Bush has done to condemn the global proliferation of WMD, his actions are almost single-handedly destroying the Non-Proliferation Treaty, a pact signed by nearly 200 nations.
But Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey--co-chair of the recently revamped Congressional Progressive Caucus--is taking a stand against Bush's hypocrisy. On July 20th, she introduced a resolution calling for the president to fulfill his obligation to the Non-Proliferation Treaty by beginning "verifiable and irreversible reductions in the United States strategic and tactical nuclear weapons and their delivery systems." "There will be no security for America or our world," Woolsey says, "unless we take all steps necessary for nuclear disarmament."
Woolsey's bill is one of several bold new initiatives launched by members of the Progressive Caucus to try to open the suffocating consensus (especially on national security issues) in Congress. Since hiring Bill Goold as the CPC's first full-time staffer, Woolsey and her colleagues have drawn up several strong, sensible resolutions for withdrawal from Iraq and issued a powerful statement of core values in their "Progressive Promise."
Woolsey's H.Res.373 aims to fulfill one of the objectives outlined in the Promise: "To re-build US alliances around the world, restore international respect for American power and influence, and reaffirm our nation's constructive engagement in the United Nations and other multilateral organizations."
At a time in which America's relations with the world continue to be sullied by the politics of Boltonism, voices like Woolsey's are critical. To join the fight against Bush's nuclear nonsense, call your representatives and urge them to support H.Res.373.
We also want to hear from you. Please let us know if you have a sweet victory you think we should cover by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-written by Sam Graham-Felsen, a freelance journalist, documentary filmmaker and blogger (www.boldprint.net) living in Brooklyn.
George Bush is on vacation in Crawford, Texas, taking the same August-long break that he did in the summer before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The appeal of Crawford appears to be that it provides the President with an opportunity to put aside all the troubles of the world and to focus on fixing fences and clearing brush. After all, it was during his previous vacation that Bush ignored an August 6, 2001, briefing document titled: "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the U.S."
Bush's inner circle, a collection of neoconservative ideologues with an agenda of their own rather than an interest in what is best for the United States, made no effort in 2001 to steer the President's attention toward pressing matters of national security. And they remain determined to keep the woefully disengaged chief executive focused on busy work around the ranch rather than life-and-death questions of how this country should position itself in a complex and dangerous world.
But this summer, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq named Cindy Sheehan is making it harder for Bush to ignore the truth that his decisions have led to the unnecessary deaths of more than 1,800 Americans, and tens of thousands of Iraqis, while making both the United States and Iraq more vulnerable to violence.
Sheehan's 24-year-old son, Army Specialist Casey A. Sheehan, died on April 4, 2004--almost a year after Bush was dressed up in flight-suit drag to appear before a banner that declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. Sheehan mourned, as any mother would. But then she organized, helping to found Gold Star Families for Peace, an organization of relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq who are demanding an end to the ill-fated occupation of that land and a redirection of US policy to achieve real security--as opposed to neoconservative misadventuring.
On August 3 of this year, Bush addressed the mounting death toll in Iraq with a pair of declarations:
1. "We have to honor the sacrifices of the fallen by completing the mission."
2. "The families of the fallen can be assured that they died for a noble cause."
Sheehan correctly identified Bush's words as "asinine and hurtful." And she headed for Crawford to try and confront the President on the August 6 anniversary of that neglected memorandum on bin Laden's intentions.
Sheehan went to Crawford with a pair of messages for the vacationing president:
1. We want our loved ones sacrifices to be honored by bringing our nation's sons and daughters home from the travesty that is Iraq immediately, since this war is based on horrendous lies and deceptions. Just because our children are dead, why would we want any more families to suffer the same pain and devastation that we are?
2. We would like for him to explain this "noble cause" to us and ask him why (presidential daughters) Jenna and Barbara are not in harm's way, if the cause is so noble.
Sheehan's bottom line, and that of Gold Star Families for Peace, is a blunt truth that the President has failed to consider: that the best way to honor the sacrifices of those who have died in Iraq is to end the occupation and bring the troops home now.
So far, the President has refused to listen to Cindy Sheehan, who says, "The sound I do want to hear is the sound of a nation waking up." But that wake-up call is being heard by the majority of Americans. In the latest Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll, 54 percent of Americans surveyed said the US made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq. That number is up eight points from July. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said the Bush Administration deliberately misled the public about the reasons for going to war. Fifty-eight percent said that, no matter how long US troops remain in Iraq, they will not be able to establish a stable, democratic government there.
George Bush has been listening for too long to Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condi Rice. He should take a real vacation from the neocon fantasy factory of his misguided aides and sit down with someone who can introduce him to the reality of what is going on in Iraq and the world. The President should meet with Cindy Sheehan. And he should listen to this woman, who has sacrificed more than he or anyone in his inner circle ever has for America.
There are many reasons why Cindy Sheehan is attracting a flood of media attention. The mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, Sheehan is camping out near President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas and says she won't leave until Bush agrees to meet with her to discuss the war. With a compelling personal narrative, an articulate voice and an obvious mainstream pedigree, Sheehan is tapping into a growing popular feeling that the Bush Administration is out of touch with the realities of the Iraq war.
This past Saturday, Bush's national security adviser and the White House deputy chief of staff were dispatched to meet with Sheehan beside a road a few miles from Bush's ranch, but she is still insisting on a meeting with the president before she will end her vigil. So far, the White House has adamantly refused but this refusal is starting to exact major public relations costs. With what Maureen Dowd called the "absolute" moral authority of a mother who has lost her son to war, Sheehan's protest is giving voice to a question more and more Americans are--finally--asking: Why did we invade Iraq?
Sen. George Allen (Republican, Va.) has publicly encouraged the President to meet with Sheehan and answer her questions. Click here and urge your elected reps to make the same public call. There's also a new website--MeetWithCindy.Org--which makes it easy to help support Sheehan's efforts, whether you want to make plans to go to Crawford or whether you want to make it possible for others to do the same. The Crawford Peace House is also mobilizing support for Sheehan.
As Sheehan herself wrote last month in a piece posted on the Common Dreams site, "I want to hear the sound of our children getting off planes and boats from Iraq to the joyful squealing of their children and the deep sighs of relief from their spouses, parents, and other loved ones. I want to hear our citizenry lifting up their voices in chorus and singing, 'We will never let this happen again.'"
Help make her vision a reality.
Bonus Link:Read Cindy Sheehan's report on why she's protesting in Crawford, published yesterday on The Huffington Post.
Last month, Rabbi Michael Lerner--the founding editor of Tikkun magazine--convened a Conference on Spiritual Activism in Berkeley. It was there that he launched a new organization called the Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP).
Lerner describes it as "the most significant inter-faith effort" to bring together "religious, secular and spiritual-but-not-religious progressives." Thirteen hundred people--Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and "spiritual but not religious people"--turned out for the conference to network and hear talks from Dave Robinson, the Executive Director of Pax Christi USA; Michael Nagler, founder of Berkeley's Peace and Conflict Studies Program; the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners magazine and Mahatma Gandhi's grandson.
The Network, Lerner explained in an interview last week, is seeking to transform our nation's institutions and culture by addressing the American people's "spiritual crisis." This crisis, he argues, stems from "an excess of selfishness and materialism" associated with American capitalism, and the fledgling organization wants to change society's bottom line by de-emphasizing "money and power" and reinforcing values like "love and caring, ethical and ecological sensitivity and behavior, kindness and generosity, non-violence and peace."
NSP's agenda includes proposals to add a constitutional amendment that would require corporations with more than $50 million in annual income to renew their charters every ten years by appearing before a jury of citizens and proving they had behaved in a socially responsible manner; to create a G-8 "Marshall Plan" whereby 5 percent of the richest nations' GDP would be donated to the most impoverished nations to fight poverty and guard against environmental degradation left over by decades of colonialism; and to refocus our nation's educational efforts around values like "caring," rather than "competition."
Critical to Lerner's agenda is to challenge what he calls "religio-phobia" on the left. Perhaps with that in mind, once the conference ended, he sent Tikkun's readers an e-mail blast that urged them to call The Nation and other progressive media outlets, which he said had failed to cover the Berkeley event, showed hostility to the religious left and had (once again) turned their backs on Tikkun and the politics of spirituality.
I traded e-mails with Lerner after receiving that letter. I pointed out that The Nation has, in fact, been committed to the inclusion of spiritual and religious perspectives since the magazine was founded by men (no women, sadly) devoted to a moral politics that sought the abolition of slavery. I reminded Lerner that leading religious left figures have appeared in our pages over the decades. Our civil rights correspondent in the early 1960s, for example, was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In the 1970s and '80s, Penny Lernoux wrote numerous pathbreaking articles relating Christ's teaching to the struggle of Latin America's people for justice in the face of powerful and corrupt elites and military juntas. More recently, in one of the first issues I edited in 1996, Harvey Cox--the eminent Harvard theology professor--argued that "to purge the public square of religion is to cut the roots of the values that nourish our fondest causes."
Just last summer, The Nation ran a cover story about the religious left to remind readers of the historic ties between the religious community and progressives. As our contributing writer Eyal Press argued, "if the emphasis on separating faith and politics alienates religious progressives and dampens their social activism, the left stands to lose a lot--both at the ballot box and in terms of social progress."
And, on a more personal note, I published an interview in this space in February in which the Rev. George Hunsinger--the McCord professor of theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and the coordinator of Church Folks for a Better America--argued that reviving the progressive movement "may well hinge on whether" the liberal left can be more "hospitable to religious people." (He also insisted that we need to reframe the "moral values" debate on issues of torture, pre-emption, unjust war and poverty.)
It's true that many on the left view religion as, at best, an obstacle to enlightenment and reason and, at worst, a source of bigotry and intolerance through the ages. And in these times, when as writer Philip Roth has noted, we are living in "the fourth year of the ministry of George W. Bush," when the separation of church and state is under assault, and with the pervasive influence of a fundamentalist, intolerant religious right, it is even harder for secularists to hear those religious voices that speak of peace, social justice and respectful interdependence.
But these are also times which try men's (and women's) souls, times of defeat and challenge, when even the most hard-core secularists are seeking deeper meaning and spiritual sustenance in their lives. I was struck by a recent correspondence on the Portside listserv--which is hosted by the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. A reader, a self-identified Marxist, commenting on a favorable piece about Lerner's new network (by Van Jones, an extraordinary activist and preacher, and director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights) urged "Marxists to recognize the reality of human spirituality" as a political force that will underpin the rise of any progressive majority.
I believe that one of the key issues facing the left (and admittedly there are many) is whether all of us--secular, spiritual and religious alike--can treat one another with the humanity, honesty, respect and grace we all need and deserve. We also need to answer this question: Can we unite to challenge the religious right through a new politics of the religious left?
As Lerner wrote me last week, "...the need to overcome the potentially fascistic direction of American politics as the Religious Right and the secular right strengthen their alliance and their hold on American political institutions makes us want to transcend past upsets and focus on how to build the most effective social change movement for the future..."
We've done it before. Religious and secular progressives have a long history of working together, albeit in a dramatically different social and political climate. Almost every major social reform movement in America (and many around the world--think on this tweny-fifth anniversary summer of Solidarity's inception) has been fueled in part by faith.
As Reverend Hunsinger pointed out in his interview with me, the antiwar activists Father Robert Drinan and the Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr. were both inspirations to peace activists everywhere. In his recent book, A Stone of Hope, the historian David Chappell convincingly likened the civil rights movement to a religious revival, showing how black Southerners inspired by the prophetic tradition of the Old Testament spearheaded the drive to abolish "the sin of segregration." And in the 1980s, progressive religious congregations led the sanctuary movement, which opened up US cities to Latinos who were fleeing Reagan's covert interventions in Central America. They also played an important role in the massive grassroots drive to curtail the nuclear arms race.
Recent examples of religious left activism include the work of the National Council of Churches--last month, it sent President Bush a letter arguing that America's rationale for invading Iraq was "at best a tragic mistake"; it has also taken the lead in fighting for universal healthcare, affordable housing and full employment. There is also the work of Pastors for Peace, which delivers humanitarian aid to the Cuban people and works with the Cuban Council of Churches and other faith-based organizations to normalize ties with Cuba. And don't forget the stalwart American Friends Service Committee, which has been instrumental in establishing sister city programs with municipalities around the world.
Indeed, Van Jones may be on the mark when he argues that "the last time US progressives captured the national debate and transformed politics--people of faith were at the center of the movement, not stuck in its closet."
So, The Nation will be following the work of the Network of Spritual Progressives in the days to come, and we urge our readers to do the same. (The group's next conference will be held in the spring in Washington, DC. Click here for info.)
Just as important, and in what I hope is a spirit of generosity and tolerance, we intend to continue to air our differences in our pages and on our website without losing sight of the critical commonalities that will, let's hope, bring us together around our many shared goals.
New York Senator Hillary Clinton has always looked like a good bet to win re-election in 2006--probably by a margin wide enough to jumpstart the 2008 presidential campaign that many Democrats want the former First Lady to make.
With the decision of Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro to seek the Republican nomination to challenge her, however, Clinton's fortunes have taken a dramatic turn for the better.
Pirro, a hyper-ambitious publicity hound who frequently turns up on the Fox News Channel as a "legal affairs" commentator, had been weighing races for governor, attorney general or Clinton's Senate seat. With the fortunes of the state Republican Party in decline (even the conservative New York Post says that "New York's GOP is withering--fast"), Pirro was unlikely to win any of those posts. So she opted for the showcase contest: a challenge to the woman Republicans around the country love to hate. Pirro's announcement garnered homestate headlines, enthusiastic coverage on Fox and conservative talk radio and promises of hefty campaign contribution checks from Hillary-haters nationwide.
But, as the Post admitted, the Pirro campaign is "not one (Clinton's) likely to lose sleep over."
Pirro supports abortion rights and reproductive freedom. She's for civil unions and other gay rights measures. She favors affirmative action and opposes the strict immigration quotas favored by Congressional conservatives. She's a big backer of gun control. And she's been enthusiastic about precisely the sort of "big-government" solutions to child-welfare and community issues that Republicans condemn Clinton for promoting.
In other words, Pirro is more of a Rockefeller Republican than a Reaganite. Yet, in an era of sharper-than-ever partisan divisions, Pirro will attract few if any votes from moderate-to-liberal New Yorkers who have sent clear signals that they do not want to give aid and comfort to President Bush and Congressional Republicans. Don't forget that Bush lost New York state by more than 1,350,000 votes in 2004. In the same year, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer was re-elected with 71 percent of the vote and the GOP suffered a rare loss of a House seat in the Buffalo area while several of its House incumbents, such as upstater Tom Reynolds, saw their victory margins slashed.
It is comic to suggest that Clinton will lose many moderate-to-liberal votes to Pirro just because, in the words of the the King of the Hillary Haters, Dick Morris, "Hillary will have to end up running against someone who is quite like herself in her public positions." New Yorkers are savvy enough to know that, if Pirro wins, she will vote to put right-wing Republican opponents of choice, gay rights and gun control in charge of the Senate, and that will disqualify Pirro with precisely the sort of voters she would need to mount a serious challenge to Clinton.
Morris suggests that Pirro might be able to draw support as a "tough-on-terror" candidate, playing the national security card against Clinton as have other Republicans in other states. But that is an even more comic claim. There is nothing progressive, nor even liberal about Hillary Clinton's stance on national security issues--she wants to "stay the course" in Iraq, she's backed even the most over-the-top spending allocations for the war, she's been a supporter of the Patriot Act and other assaults on civil liberties and she's frequently more in line with the Bush Administration's approach on national security issues than a number of Senate Republicans.
When all is said and done, Clinton could end up benefitting from the "name" Republican challenge posed by Pirro, as it will reinforce the Democrat's position with base voters who might otherwise have problems with her centrist stances.
Indeed, if there is a candidate who is going to have a problem with her base, it's Pirro.
Several more conservative candidates are in the Republican race, including Ed Cox, a prominent New York lawyer who is the son-in-law of former President Richard Nixon, former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer and attorney Bill Brenner. Pirro may beat the three of them for the GOP nod. But one member of that trio is likely to be the nominee of the Conservative Party, a New York state institution that refused to back Schumer's moderate Republican challenger in 2004 and gained 220,960 votes for a little-known candidate running on its party line in the race. (In the presidential vote, the Conservatives backed Bush, who obtained 155,574 votes, more than 5 percent of his state total, on its line.)
If Pirro loses hundreds of thousands of votes to a Conservative Party nominee, she could well run a weaker race than Clinton's 2000 foe, former US Representative Rick Lazio, who had the Republican and Conservative endorsements. (Lazio got 43 percent of the vote that year, while polls currently put Pirro at around 29 percent.)
That may not be the worst of it for Pirro. While there is no question that Hillary Clinton suffers among some voters because of her association with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, Pirro has a husband problem of her own. As the Post's able politcal scribe, Fredric U. Dicker, gently notes, "Pirro's strength as a candidate is handicapped by her husband Albert's conviction in 2000 on federal income-tax fraud charges, an earlier revelation that he fathered an out-of-wedlock daughter, as well as the recent allegation by a Mafia informant that Al Pirro leaked confidential material from an ongoing Westchester DA's probe."
Plenty of ink will be spilled over the next fifteen months on the Clinton-Pirro race, and talk-TV and radio will love the fight. But if there was any cheering heard after Pirro announced on Monday, it was coming from Clinton's headquarters.
I'm on vacation, but I couldn't resist posting the below on my davidcorn.com site, where I routinely obsess over the Karl Rove scandal.
Last week, the Justice Department issued a new indictment of Lawrence Franklin, the Pentagon official accused of passing secrets to officials of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying outfit. The indictment is bad news for the Bush White House and Karl Rove.
That's not only because the Franklin case is embarrassing for the administration, the Pentagon, and their neocon allies. (Franklin worked with Douglas Feith, who until recently was a senior Pentagon official close to the neocons.) The Franklin indictment is a sign that Rove and any other White House aide involved in the Plame/CIA leak might be vulnerable to prosecution under the Espionage Act.
Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald--who is not involved in the Franklin prosecution--has not had to state publicly what sort of case he is trying to build in the Plame/CIA leak matter. The most obvious one would be based on the charge that the leaker violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. But that law was narrowly drawn, and to win a conviction Fitzgerald would have to prove that Rove or any other leaker knew that Valerie Wilson was working under cover at the CIA. There are, however, other laws under which Fitzgerald might charge the CIA/Plame leakers. The Franklin indictment points the way. (And criminal law aside, by sharing classified information with at least two reporters--Valerie Wilson's employment at the CIA was classified--Rove committed an offense that violated various rules and would get most government workers seriously punished or dismissed.)
The Franklin indictments notes:
On or about December 8, 1999, FRANKLIN signed a Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement, a Standard Form 312 (SF-312). In that document FRANKLIN acknowledged that he was aware that the unauthorized disclosure of classified information by him could cause irreparable injury to the United States or could be used to advantage by a foreign nation and that he would never divulge classified information to an unauthorized person. He further acknowledged that he would never divulge classified information unless he had officially verified that the recipient was authorized by the United States to receive it. Additionally, he agreed that if he was uncertain about the classification status of information, he was required to confirm from an authorized official that the information is unclassified before he could disclose it.
Yet, the indictment alleges, Franklin passed classified information to Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, two senior AIPAC officials. And the indictment claims Rosen and Weissman shared this information with Israel. Consequently, the indictment charges Franklin, Rosen and Weissman with "conspiracy to communicate National Defense Information under sections 793(d) and 793(e) of Title 18, United States Code. And Franklin was charged with three counts of "communication of National Defense Information"--not conspiracy--under section 793(d). He was also charged with one count of "conspiracy to communicate classified information" to a foreign government.
Let's look at sections 793(d) and (e). The first generally applies to government officials, the second to nongovernment officials. Both sections make it a crime to transmit national defense information--and the identity of an undercover CIA officer would probably count as national defense information--to a person unauthorized to receive it (such as a reporter). These sections define violators as
(d) Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it.
(e) Whoever having unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it. [Emphasis added.]
Rove, like Franklin, had to sign SF-312. As Rep. Henry Waxman noted in a short report he released on the Rove leak, this nondisclosure agreement states, "I will never divulge classified information to anyone" unauthorized to receive such information. Rove broke that vow. And Executive Order 12958--which Bush updated on March 25, 2003-- says that "officers and employees of the United States Government...shall be subject to appropriate sanctions if they knowingly, willfully, or negligently...disclose to unauthorized persons information properly classified." The sanctions include "reprimand, suspension without pay, removal, termination of classification authority, loss or denial of access to classified information, or other sanctions." So Rove ought to be slapped with one of those punishments.
But worse for Rove--from a legal perspective--is section 793. Rove did communicate classified information which could be used "to the injury of the United States" to a person "not entitled to receive it." The information was the identity of an undercover intelligence official working on anti-WMD operations. Such information could be used to thwart or undermine past or present CIA operations and assets connected to Valerie Wilson. The persons "not entitled" to received this info were Robert Novak and Matt Cooper (and perhaps there were more).
I am--as I've said before--no lawyer. But given the letter of the law in section 793, it seems to me there is a case to be made that Rove essentially did what Franklin did. There may be a difference in intent or awareness. Perhaps Rove did not know he was passing on classified information that could be used to the detriment of the United States (though he should have realized that had he given the matter a moment or two of thought), and it seems that Franklin had to know he was sharing classified material with outsiders. But section 793 does not say a violator must be aware he or she is passing on information that could cause harm to the United States if exposed. It only sets as a criterion that the violator "willfully" communicates this information. I assume that means a purely accidental slip of the lip would not be a crime. But Rove--who told at least two reporters about Valerie Wilson's CIA position--cannot argue he was not "willfully" communicating this information to others.
So might Fitzgerald have a case under section 793? Journalists don't like these sorts of prosecutions, for it brings us close to an official secrets act (like the one that exists in Britain). If prosecutors chased after government leakers--say those who leaked intelligence showing that the White House's case for war in Iraq was weak--the public would suffer. And the Justice Department's indictment of Rosen and Weissman--nongovernment officials--for passing along classified information is also worrisome for reporters who pass along classified information by publishing and airing stories that contain secret information. But Fitzgerald has certainly demonstrated he's not too concerned about pursuing legal cases and setting legal precedents that are bad for journalism. And that's why Rove ought to be sweating the Franklin indictment.
Words such as "conscience" and "honor" have pretty much disappeared from the American political lexicon in this age of Bush Administration lies and leaks. But when the histories of this time are written, it will be remembered that those precious characteristics were not wholly absent.
When British Prime Minister Tony Blair was maneuvering Britain into Bush's Iraq War coalition, one of the most prominent leaders of his Labour Party--a former foreign minister who then served as the party's leader in the House of Commons--resigned from the government and took a place on the back benches to deliver a blistering condemnation of the irrational arguments that Bush and Blair were making for an unwise and unnecessary war.
Robin Cook, who made international headlines with that act of conscience, died Saturday at age 59. To his last days, he remained an ardent foe of the war. Britain's Observer newspaper called him "the most incisively potent of the war's opponents."
Cook's resignation speech remains one of the most noted parliamentary addresses of the contemporary age. And rightly so, as Cook's words have proven to have been remarkably prescient.
Here is a portion of what he said on March 17, 2003, shortly after he left Blair's government to cast a historic vote against the invasion and occupation of Iraq:
I have chosen to address the House first on why I cannot support a war without international agreement or domestic support.
The present Prime Minister is the most successful leader of the Labour Party in my lifetime. I applaud the heroic efforts that the Prime Minister has made in trying to secure a second resolution [at the United Nations]. I do not think that anybody could have done better than the Foreign Secretary in working to get support for a second resolution within the Security Council.
But the very intensity of those attempts underlines how important it was to succeed. Now that those attempts have failed, we cannot pretend that getting a second resolution was of no importance.
The reality is that Britain is being asked to embark on a war without agreement in any of the international bodies of which we are a leading partner--not NATO, not the European Union and, now, not the Security Council.
Only a year ago, we and the United States were part of a coalition against terrorism that was wider and more diverse than I would ever have imagined possible. History will be astonished at the diplomatic miscalculations that led so quickly to the disintegration of that powerful coalition.
Our interests are best protected not by unilateral action but by multilateral agreement and a world order governed by rules. Yet tonight the international partnerships most important to us are weakened: The European Union is divided; the Security Council is in stalemate. Those are heavy casualties of a war in which a shot has yet to be fired.
I have heard some parallels between military action in these circumstances and the military action that we took in Kosovo. There was no doubt about the multilateral support that we had for the action that we took in Kosovo. It was supported by NATO; it was supported by the European Union; it was supported by every single one of the seven neighbors in the region. France and Germany were our active allies. It is precisely because we have none of that support in this case that it was all the more important to get agreement in the Security Council as the last hope of demonstrating international agreement.
Our difficulty in getting support this time is that neither the international community nor the British public is persuaded that there is an urgent and compelling reason for this military action in Iraq.
None of us can predict the death toll of civilians from the forthcoming bombardment of Iraq, but the US warning of a bombing campaign that will "shock and awe" makes it likely that casualties will be numbered at least in the thousands.
For four years as Foreign Secretary I was partly responsible for the Western strategy of containment. Over the past decade that strategy destroyed more weapons than in the Gulf War, dismantled Iraq's nuclear weapons program and halted Saddam's medium- and long-range missiles programs.
Iraq's military strength is now less than half its size than at the time of the last Gulf War. Some advocates of conflict claim that Saddam's forces are so weak, so demoralized and so badly equipped that the war will be over in a few days. We cannot base our military strategy on the assumption that Saddam is weak and at the same time justify pre-emptive action on the claim that he is a threat.
Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term--namely a credible device capable of being delivered against a strategic city target. Why is it now so urgent that we should take military action to disarm a military capacity that has been there for twenty years, and which we helped to create?
It has been a favorite theme of commentators that this House no longer occupies a central role in British politics.
Nothing could better demonstrate that they are wrong than for this House to stop the commitment of troops in a war that has neither international agreement nor domestic support.
I intend to join those tomorrow night who will vote against military action now. It is for that reason, and for that reason alone, and with a heavy heart, that I resign from the government.
It is not often that this column pays tribute to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. But the man who in 1994 played a pivotal role in putting the Republican Party in control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years -- and in developing the strategies that have kept the GOP in control -- has a sharp political mind. And he used it this week to analyze the unexpectedly strong showing of Democrat Paul Hackett in a special election to fill the southern Ohio U.S. House seat vacated by U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman.
Hackett won 48.3 percent of the vote in a district where no Democrat had ever gotten more than 28 percent against Portman. In the most Republican House district in the state of Ohio, the Democrat, a Marine veteran of the Iraq war, lost by barely 3,000 votes. And he did that after a campaign in which he said the U.S. should not have invaded the Iraq in the first place and condemned the administration's approach to the occupation. Unlike more cautious Democrats, Hackett was unapologetic about calling President Bush an "SOB" whose actions endangered Americans, and about referring to members of the administration as "chickenhawks."
Of course,most Republicans and their media allies were quick to dismiss the significance of Hackett's showing -- despite the fact that it was the best finish for a Democrat in the district since the Watergate election of 1974. The rules of spin these days are such that reality is rarely allowed to intrude on discussions of politics.
But Gingrich decided to ditch the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee's talking points and recognize the significance of Hackett's near win. Speaking to the Washington Post on the day after the Ohio vote, the former Speaker of the House said, "It should serve as a wake-up call to Republicans. Clearly, there's a pretty strong signal for Republicans thinking about 2006 that they need to do some very serious planning and not just assume that everything is going to be automatically okay."
With a new Associated Press-Ipsos poll showing that President Bush's overall approval rating has fallen to 42 percent, with 55 percent disapproving -- and 50 percent of Americans surveyed saying the nation's top Republican is not honest -- the evidence that the GOP has a potential problem extends well beyond the results from one special election in Ohio.
But the Ohio vote telescoped the significance of concern about the Iraq imbroglio as a factor in the governing party's declining fortunes -- a point confirmed by the new poll's finding that only 38 percent of Americans now approve of Bush's handling of the occupation.
Gingrich acknowledges this reality, saying that, ''There is more energy today on the anti-Iraq, anti-gas price, anti-changing Social Security, and I think anti-Washington (side of the debate). I think the combination of those four are all redounding to weaken Republicans and help Democrats... I don't think this is time to panic, but I think it's time to think. If we don't think now, then next September, people will panic when it's too late."
Gingrich's warning is a wise one for Republicans, and you can bet that it will be taken seriously by at least some leaders of a party that has mastered the art of maintaining power. As such, the real question is this: Will Democrats be smart enough to recognize that Gingrich is right when he speaks about the energy being on the anti-Iraq side?
So far, indications are not encouraging. An analysis of the strong showing by Hackett distributed to Democratic House after the election by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee failed to make any mention of the significance of Iraq as an issue.
Saturday, August 6, marks the fortieth anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson's signing into law of the Voting Rights Act, considered by many to be the most comprehensive civil rights law ever passed. The act provides protection for voters against actions taken by states to limit participation in the electoral process, actions most often targeted toward black, Hispanic, and low-income citizens. The law banned literacy tests and the other barriers that southern states had erected since blacks won the vote in 1870. And in the three years after it passed, more than a million new nonwhite voters cast ballots in southern states.
As The Nation's unsigned editorial said this week, "By tearing down the barriers to equal opportunity at the ballot box, the act removed the essential political mechanisms that maintained segregation and white supremacy." Several key provisions of the act expire in 2007, however, and Rev. Jackson, the NAACP and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition are taking the lead in campaigning for their renewal.
These days, with each of the last two presidential elections marred by accounts of black voters being intentionally disenfranchised, the renewal--and strengthening--of the Voting Rights Act is more critical than ever. So let's honor the proud anniversary of this act by extending its promise forty years later.
NAACP Convention SpeechRev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.July 12, 2005
To Chairman Julian Bond, a legendary force in the last half of the 20th century, whose work, vision and sacrifice, and whose call to conscience lifted a generation - we thank you. Of our generation of activists who survived the bullets and the lynchings, there is no brighter light, no keener mind, than Julian Bond.
To Bruce Gordon who now assumes the awesome responsibility to guide our civil rights mother ship - we share with you in your daunting task. You have the integrity, the intelligence and the strength of reasoning to take us another rung up freedom's ladder. Be assured that the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition stands with you. The entire civil rights community will be served well to rally, close ranks and join with you in partnership.
To my lifelong friend Nelson Rivers, a giant of a man who continues to grow and serve selflessly - we are all in your debt and your mother's debt for your unswerving faith and commitment to shared justice and security for all.
To Hillary Shelton, you are our 101st Senator and, even at a young age, in the best tradition of Clarence Mitchell - you serve us well.
To the Board of Directors - your strength, no matter the weather, keeps the ship afloat.
We meet today in the face of unusually chilly winds, when 20 US Senators wrapped in faith symbols and moral values - wearing Jesus clothes - cannot show contrition by voting to apologize for the Senate's historic failure to oppose lynching - acts of state sponsored terror - for fear their constituents would reject them. And when there is such a cold silence from the White House when this "failure to act" occurred - chilly winds.
It is a chilly wind when the head of another country - Vicente Fox - can make a demeaning statement about Americans, and then seek to justify demeaning racial stereotypes and caricatures in the postage stamp. Even as we pay taxes at home and shed blood on foreign battlefields, the silence of the White House and Secretary of State on this is chilling.
Our Voting Rights are under attack, coupled with a growing lack of government enforcement. The silence of the Attorney General and the closed-door policy of the Department of Justice are chilling.
There is this urban chill of first-class jails for profit and second-class schools, marked by a jail drug culture that is destroying families and taking away voters. We must look anew at this international drug war in which our cities play the most minor role and pay the most major price. When I talked with New York and Chicago police chiefs, both acknowledged that the purchases are mainly suburban. The gun shops are mainly suburban, propped up by NRA policies. The coke comes from Columbia and South America; the heroin comes from Afghanistan under US occupation, brought in to the ports by ships and by trucks at known border points. The drug-gun industry attacks our cities like insurgents. We offer little defense. As we dump billions into Iraq to stop terror, the drug and gun terrorists are ravaging us at home.
It is in the face of these chilly winds that I greet you today.
I want to thank you for my upbringing and my liberated consciousness, for removing the veil from my eyes as a child. Unsung heroes like Rev. I.D. Quincy Newman in South Carolina, and a little known auto mechanic named AJ Whittenberg, and Rev. James Hall of Springfield Baptist Church, who led a demonstration on the Greenville airport because Jackie Robinson could not get off of the plane to use the toilet. These men kept talking about this "freedom thing."
On July 17, 1960, along with seven students, I was arrested trying to use a public library, as a member of the NAACP youth chapter. We were directed to jail, and then bailed out, by the NAACP... but we helped change the course of South Carolina in very fundamental ways.
On July 17, 1984, 24 years to the day, I gave my speech at the Democratic Convention in San Francisco as a presidential candidate, having defeated US Senator and former South Carolina Governor Ernest Hollings, Senator Glenn, and others, in the primary process.
With your help I saw the light and joined the freedom train. During that season, we changed America's direction, but not irreversibly. We defeated Goliath, but his sons and daughters have come roaring back.
So this Sunday in Greenville we will celebrate 45 years since being jailed in Greenville, and 21 since the historic run for the presidency in 1984.
Just this past year, Rainbow and NAACP - in coalition - were able to gain recognition of the King holiday in Greenville for the first time, against fierce opposition from Bob Jones University and the right wing. They sought to discredit Dr. King beyond the grave, and yet we prevailed. The struggle continues.
In this the year of our Lord 2005 the civil rights movement must declare this to be the Martin Luther King-Lyndon Johnson year. Under their leadership 40 years ago, promises made in 1865 were honored in some measure. Under their leadership 40 years ago, 346 years of voter denial ended. Under their leadership, and the tremendous legal work of the NAACP and Thurgood Marshall, the laws of Jim Crow - a creature of the Supreme Court in 1896 - came tumbling down. Under their leadership, America was transformed in fundamental ways.
But the gains achieved during that period are now under attack. The vision of state's righters and Confederates is again challenging the Union. Their vision is not merely of racial and gender inequality, and worker exploitation; it's a fundamental conflict of North v. South not unlike a century ago. Two competing views of the American Dream.
The glorious vision of the war on poverty has shifted to a war of choice in Iraq and a war on the poor. The war in Iraq is costing lives, money ($345 billion so far, and $5 billion a month) and honor. We are shooting ourselves into global isolation, built upon lies and deception. A war without moral foundation can have no good outcome. Yet our sons and daughters, for whom we have such love and such high regard, are caught up in this madness.
The ethic of Jesus the Christ is lifting up the poor, healing the broken hearted, feeding the hungry, providing adequate housing for every American. That gospel of liberation is giving way to a gospel of prosperity - a gospel of the rich young ruler. There now is a driving force for a "Mansion-Down" view where the rich are enhanced with tax cuts and privileges, rather than a "Manger-UP" for the poor to break the shackles of their deprivation and denied rights.
Wolves dressed up and appearing to be sheep, dressed up in Jesus' clothes. They are deceptive as they turned the tenets of our faith on its head. Christianity at its best is a revolutionary gospel for inclusion, for the poor, for the downtrodden.
Today we call to stop this trend. Both parties seem to have more in common on critical matters with each other, than with our needs. We must reassess the need for a course of independence and action - I refer to it as the third rail.
In Chicago, in the elevated train system, there are two tracks for the wheels, but the third rail has the electricity, the power to propel the train forward or backwards. If that rail is not on and alive, the other two rails settle to the status quo - they stay as they are. When we are acting, litigating, legislating, demonstrating for a moral cause, we shake up and energize the whole system for the good of all. That's how change comes about.
Civil rights struggle is not synonymous with Democrats or Republicans, and they are not synonymous with the civil rights struggle. We turn up the voltage of the third rail; we move both, but we must not be captive of either.
Historically, both parties found common ground in the status quo. We always needed the third rail of sacrifice and action.
In the time of slavery, conservatives said "treat them as you want, they are your property." The Supreme Court of that era blessed this trend of thought.
Liberals said, "Be generous and patient toward them."
The abolitionists said, "End the whole system." The third rail.
It was John Brown and Frederick Douglas and Dred Scott, and the runaway slaves. It was neither party, nor the compliant ones who adjusted to the system that created the dynamic for change.
In resisting Jim Crow and faith-based lynchings - I say faith-based because most lynchings were not abductions at night with men hiding their faces behind sheets and hoods. They were rituals after church on Sunday. We were lynched in the name of God. Out of your theology - your view of God - comes your view of people, your view of politics, of laws, of economics, of culture. This theology that chose race supremacy over love, and distorted the very essence and message of Jesus, has been a rat in the well of our quest to make this a more perfect union.
In resisting Jim Crow and lynching laws, and a perverse cultural theology, the NAACP, in its formation, had to build a course of action outside of the political norm. The third rail.
In the quest for women's right to vote, men on both sides of the aisle railed against women's rights. The women's suffrage movement was independent of the parties - third rail.
In the 1930, labor fought for the right to organize. Both parties supported right to work laws and too often they still do. Labor faced struggles at the plant gates. Workers were martyred. It was a third rail struggle. Out of it came a middle class. The 8-hour day. The NLRB. Dignity for workers.
The struggle to de-segregate the military took place over the objection of both parties. The struggle that led to the 1954 decision was independent. It came from Thurgood Marshall and Houston and the NAACP "to" the Supreme Court.
The struggle for the 1964 and 1965 civil rights acts came from Emmit Till, Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney -- the marching feet in Selma and Montgomery, not from Pennsylvania Avenue nor Capitol Hill. They were independent, Third Rail struggles.
The fight to recognize the United Farm Workers Union came from Cesar Chavez's Leadership, from the blood, sweat and toil of workers in the fields of California and Texas, not from the halls of Congress.
The third rail can relate to both parties, but must maintain its own identity and not be captive of either. We must be the voice of conscience; we must march to the beat of a different drummer. Elected officials too often represent the cultural norms, we must be the creative minority with a majority vision, and like a powerful tugboat we must pull the ship of state toward the safe landing of peace and justice.
We are not happy with the Democratic Party; we are not afraid of Republicans. 40 years after Dr. King and Lyndon Johnson, and the martyrs of our modern day struggle, we will pledge to not let them down. We cannot let Washington or Wall Street co-opt our identity - our electric rail for change - and wear down our will for equality. They are both central to the problem.
The Senate filibuster compromise was a cave in, a collapse. It protected the rights of minorities IN the Senate, but did not protect the right of minorities, women or labor OUTSIDE of the Senate. It was a charmed move for the club, but had no real value for civil rights, workers rights and social justice. It opened the door to the rightwing to take over our courts.
So the battle for the soul of the Supreme Court today - with the retirement of Justice O'Connor and the expected resignation of Justice Rehnquist, and possibly Justice Ginsburg - defines this era of civil rights struggle. Will the Court follow the tradition of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Court and strike down racial segregation and inequality and uphold civil rights? Or will it turn its back? That's why we must do everything in our power to fight for an independent, fair Supreme Court that upholds the constitution, and prevent Bush from stacking our Courts with rightwing ideologues who would define the laws of our lands for the next 40 years.
The alliance of both parties against class action lawsuits, denying workers and consumers a voice, the bankruptcy laws, lack of concerted action on predatory exploitation, the will to write off the South by the Democrats in the last election - the largest region with the most needs - make it clear that we must form a third rail independent labor-civil rights action agenda.
And negotiate with whoever chooses to appreciate the legitimacy of our interests and needs.
We have the power to change the course of our nation - by the margin of our unregistered Black voters in the South:
North Carolina: 483,000
South Carolina: 210,000
We have not earned the right to do less than our best. We are losing too many battles by the margin of cynicism and feigned effort. We must go home with a burning desire to target registration for the 2006 campaigns.
We need New Constitutional Rights and New Vehicles.
In this quest we must build in new Constitutional rights and pick up where the 13, 14th and 15th amendments - which passed by only two votes - left off. We must fight for new rights and new vehicles to achieve these rights, to move from civil rights, to universal human and constitutional rights. We cannot just fight for grants and programs, and new faces in high places. We need new protections:
50 million Americans are now without health care insurance, a deepening crisis in a land of plenty that threatens our security. The health care system is broken, treated like a privilege, and leaving more and more families in the gap.
So we need a Constitutional Amendment for equal, high quality health care for all Americans. Constitutional rights are a vision for a more perfect union, not a program or a grant.
Public education in America continues to leave too many of our children behind. Schools suffer from unequal funding, with schools in poor and urban areas receiving inadequate resources relative to their suburban counterparts. Teachers are not properly compensated. This administration has not provided the required funding for its "No Child Left Behind Act." Flawed policy. It's flawed because it raises the ceiling without evening the floor.
I spoke at Little Rock Central High School last week, only to be reminded of the funding gap today between urban schools and suburban schools - which is greater today than in 1957. Chicago inner city schools spend around $5500 per child. Suburbs ten miles away spend over $17,000 per child. Educational inequality and segregation has moved from "race based" to tax based, but the results are the same.
So we must support the NEA lawsuit challenging the under-funding of No Child Left Behind, and work together to achieve a Constitutional Right to equal, high quality education for all Americans.
We are exporting capital and jobs, and importing cheap labor and products. Wages are down, unemployment is up. Right to work means right to exploit.
Hotel workers in New York earn $17 per hour, with health benefits and retirement plans. Hotel workers in Louisiana or Atlanta make $7 per hour with no benefits or retirement plan. Bally's workers in Las Vegas make $40,000; yet in Tunica, MS, just $20,000. That's the difference between right to work v. right to organize and be protected and represented by unions.
So we must support the Employee Choice Act, and a constitutional right for workers to organize.
We have won the vote in the last two elections; but we lost the count. We still have 50 separate and unequal elections; voter suppression and fraud taint our system.
So we support the Conyers-Dodd comprehensive voter reform bill, the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, and a constitutional amendment affirming the individual, federally protected right to vote.
The Congressional Black Caucus met with president Bush a few months ago. Congressman Jackson asked President Bush if he would support voting rights act extension with Section 203 and Section 5. He said he didn't know anything about it.
That's an incredible response when you consider that Texas was under Voting Rights Act supervision. He knew very well what the question of voting rights enforcement was about. His constituency resists Section 203 and Section 5. They want to use tricky language, like "make it national and permanent" - they know full well the Voting Rights Act is narrowly tailored and would not survive strict scrutiny and would be declared unconstitutional. Another wolves in sheep's clothing maneuver.
Already we see the ugly heads of voter restriction being raised. A lawsuit in Indiana. The Schwarzenegger redistricting plan in California. Tom DeLay in Texas. Perdue in Georgia. Georgia passed voter identification legislation, which requires you to have a state-issued ID to validate your registration and vote. So if you go to Georgia Tech or University of Georgia, you can use your student ID - they are "state" schools. But if you go to Morehouse, Spelman or Emory, your student ID is not valid - they are "private" schools. 100 counties in Georgia do not offer state ID's, making it more difficult to register and vote. But to vote by absentee ballot no ID is required.
This voter restriction bill in Georgia revives a de facto poll tax, and Attorney General Gonzales must enforce the Voting Rights Act and prevent it from being implemented. But just as Ashcroft would not act on Tom DeLay's manipulation of congressional districts in Texas, Attorney General Gonzales will not respond to our request to meet on Perdue's voter manipulation and disenfranchising plan in Georgia. We need this administration to enforce - not ignore - the Voting Rights Act NOW.
I urge us this August 6, on the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, to have a massive march in Atlanta, Georgia. A pro-Democracy rally. A rally for Voting Rights Act reauthorization. For workers' right to organize. For the end to the Iraq war. For a fair, independent and impartial Supreme Court.
40 years later we must focus anew on the threats to our gains over the last 40 years. Likewise we must continue looking at the 4th stage of our struggle - beyond slavery and segregation and the right to vote - to access to capital, industry and technology - our next phase.
What does it means when the government spends millions on bankruptcy proceedings but we are locked out? What does it mean when United Airlines spends millions on bankruptcy proceedings, but we are locked out. In effect, United Airlines boycotted our talented financial services firms.
We must intensify our presence at shareholders meetings, demanding greater accountability in the use of pension funds. For too long, we have spent our energy knocking to open up closed doors. We must look at new alliances and rather than just knocking on closed doors, we must build our own doors and build bridges with new partners.
I want to make a bold proposal today, to look anew at a strategic alliance between African Americans and Latinos. We cannot allow even the racial tensions within Mexico, the erroneous insulting statement of President Fox and the Memin Penguin stamp, to divert our attention away from the ultimate alliance between struggling workers of Mexico and of the US, and the African factor within the Mexican cultural experience.
African Americans and Latinos combined make up more than a majority of the populations in this country's 100 largest cities. When we work together we can finish the unfinished business of our movement: the constitutional right to vote; the constitutional rights to health care and education, the right to organize and breathe free.
African Americans and Mexican Americans share the lowest paying jobs.
We share the schools that have the least investment and resources. We have the highest infant mortality rates and the shortest life expectancies.
We face the most predatory exploitation, whether it be the auto, insurance or financial services industries. We share the most jail cells. Dr. King in his last staff meeting convened Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, Jews, and labor to focus on a coalition - a working poor people's campaign to lift all boats at the bottom and leave no one behind. That insight was brilliant
Yet we share our blood disproportionately for our country in times of war. We are the most likely to be profiled and suspected. We face the same racial inequities on a daily basis. Our profile is that we work harder and get paid less, we pay more for less, live under stress and don't live as long. We must reassess our relationship and have a summit to build on our common goals and needs, and to work on a shared destiny.
The victory of Villaraigosa, like the victory of Tom Bradley that preceded him, is a manifestation of our coalition. The victory of Harold Washington in Chicago, Brown in Houston, Webb or Pena in Denver, Dave Dinkins in New York, were all examples of what happens when our coalition finds common ground. We must unite our coalition around these 10 points:
1. Teach our children to be bilingual.2. Teach our children nonviolence and to avoid gang warfare.3. We must conduct trade missions.4. We must conduct cultural exchanges.5. We must have a conference with our religious leaders.6. We must merge our quest to join corporate boards and upper levels of management.7. Our labor and consumer patterns drive the companies; we are denied the road to inclusion.8. We must fight for affirmative actions laws and strong enforcement by the EEOC and OFCCP.9. We must fight for comprehensive immigration reform.10. We must connect with Africans and Mexicans whom we share common history and challenges. They are our family in the diaspora.
Mexico is next door, not back door. Mexico is older than the United States. We must view Mexico as a hemispheric partner in progress. It is the largest trading partner in this hemisphere, and second in the world. The U.S. does more trade with Mexico than Japan, Germany, France, Italy and the UK combined.
Two-thirds of our neighbors speak Spanish. We have the more telephone traffic than anywhere in the world. One million people come back and forth across the border each day. 1000 people are deported. Africans in Mexico were the first freed in this hemisphere, before the Untied States, Cuba or Brazil. We must build upon that tradition.
We must work for comprehensive immigration reform, and the McCain-Kennedy bill, and actively work together to expand the road to opportunity in our nations, and peace between our nations.
It occurred to me in 1984 - the reason why we named ourselves the "Rainbow" - is that I observed there were more people OUTSIDE of the convention, than IN the convention. African Americans were having a rally. Latinos were having a rally. Women were having a rally. Asian Americans were having a rally. Peace activists were having a rally. Environmentalists were having a rally.
So I said why don't we pull all of that together and form a third force. And it was that action that elected new mayors and city council members from New York to Chicago, Cleveland to Los Angeles. It was that action that increased the most Black and Latino and Asian elected officials in history. It was that action of voter registration that led to US Senate victories in the South. It was the Rainbow base that enabled Bill Clinton to win. And even in 2000 and 2004 we won the vote, but lost the count - which remains even another challenge.
But be encouraged. Don't let this foul wind of rightwing zealotry break your spirit. We have more capacity to fight back and make this a more perfect union than ever before. We have strategic partners. We have valued skills. We have a will to work. If we have a made up mind and will to fight. we will prevail. This is not dusk moving toward midnight; it is dawn moving toward daylight. They have thrown their hardest blows, and yet we stand.
It is this faith that will carry us to a more perfect union.
It is this faith that will build more schools and fewer jails. It is with this faith that we will live longer and be stronger. It is with this faith that we will end the madness of the war in Iraq, and stop the genocide in Darfur.
It is with this faith that we will move beyond diversity toward real equity and parity. We have the most diverse Supreme Court in history, but it is devoid of the content of social justice and historical context. And now its fundamental direction lies in the balance.
It is with this faith that 2006 will be a year with a great surge in political empowerment and growth. It is with this faith that we will become healers of nations and builders of a more perfect union.
It is with this faith that we will march in Atlanta on August 6. It is with this faith that we will win the battle to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then God will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal our land.
Thank you very much. Keep Hope Alive.