Every Week For
Over Five Years
Join us every Saturday from 1pm to 2pm at the Beaver County Courthouse, Beaver PA.
Bring All the Troops Home Now!
By Carl Davidson
Progressives for Obama
Tractor pulls, tilt-a-whirls and dirt track motorcycle races aren’t the usual setting for a literature table featuring the Obama campaign. But the several thousand local residents who attend the annual Raccoon Township Fair here in Western Pennsylvania every June made it seem like a natural to us, especially after all the local turmoil over “white workers” in the recent Democratic Primary.
We set up our wares alongside others that featured local crafts by township women. The site was the Volunteer Fire Department Hall, next to the bingo games in the garage and the food concession in the kitchen, usually the site of the regular “Fish Fry” community fundraisers.
To the extent the township has a “village square,” the VFD buildings and grounds are it. Wedding, graduations and family reunions take place here, too.
We put up a big “4th CD Progressive Democrats of America” sign, together with plenty of Obama posters and literature, and “Healthcare not Warfare” petitions for the “Single Payer” health care plan in Rep. John Conyer’s (D-MI) HR676 Bill. The petitions are aimed at our local Member of Congress, Jason Altmire, to get on board. Last but not least, we set out everything we need to register new voters. Continue reading Battleground Report: Politics at the Raccoon Township Fair
Photo: GI Resister, Matthis Chiroux
US soldier refuses
to report for
active duty in Iraq
Agence France Presse
June 15, 2008 – A month after US army reservist Matthis Chiroux publicly refused to deploy to Iraq, the former sergeant on Sunday set himself up for possible prosecution by failing to report for active duty with his unit in South Carolina.
“Tonight at midnight, I may face further action from the army for refusing to reactivate to participate in the Iraq occupation,” Chiroux told reporters in Washington.
“I stand here today in defense of those who have been stripped of their voices in this occupation, the warriors of this nation…”, Chiroux read from a statement as his father Rob, who had travelled to Washington from Alabama to support his son on Father’s Day, stood beside him. Continue reading GI Opposes Unjust War
By John Nichols
Democrats were clearly seen as running on an antiwar platform in 2006, and they won big, grabbing control of both houses of Congress.
The lesson should have been clear: when the party defines itself as antiwar, it wins.
But after a year and a half of wrangling between Congressional Democrats and the Bush Administration over Iraq, that definition has blurred. So now, even as Democrats are poised to nominate a candidate who opposed attacking Iraq, key Congressional supporters of the likely nominee, Senator Barack Obama, and his chief challenger, Senator Hillary Clinton, are working together to craft a platform that bluntly positions the Democrats as the party that will bring the troops home and change the policies that sent them to the Middle East. So far, fifty House members, all superdelegates, have signed a letter endorsing the antiwar language.
“On the issues of Iraq and foreign policy, Democrats can’t be vague or fuzzy,” argue Representatives Barbara Lee, an Obama backer; Jim McGovern, a Clinton backer; and Sam Farr, uncommitted until after the primaries, in an open letter to delegates to the Democratic National Convention. The “Democratic Platform that will be ratified at the Convention in Denver will form our core statement of principles as a party for the next four years, principles that we will unite around in both the general election and beyond,” they add. “With only months remaining before we unite as a party in August, it is critical that we take action now to ensure that a clear statement is made in our platform: we will end the war in Iraq; the Republican Party will not.”These influential superdelegates agreed, even while the presidential race divided them, to unite to support platform language that calls for: “an end to the war in Iraq by initiating the safe and secure withdrawal of all US combat forces, leaving no permanent military bases behind; a robust diplomatic surge in the Middle East and beyond that includes negotiations with the Iranian government without preconditions that make sitting down to talk impossible; an end to the use of torture and the closure of our prison at Guantánamo Bay.”
Party platforms are often dismissed as meaningless. But presidential candidates and Congressional leaders do not treat them as such, and neither should antiwar activists. In writing the platform the relationship between the candidate and the party base is defined, and the message for the fall campaign is framed. Four years ago, after Democratic convention delegates finalized an agenda for the party’s campaign, Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. dismissed it as “a cautious platform.” The chair of the party’s platform committee, Representative Rosa DeLauro, said simply, “It reflects John Kerry.” That was the problem. The platform’s “transparent vagaries on Iraq”–to quote antiwar activist Tom Hayden–signaled a tepid approach to the war debate that ceded vital ground to the Republicans. When Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich supporters attempted to add antiwar language to the platform, Kerry’s man, former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, rushed in to block them and bragged, “We didn’t give up anything.” Nor did they gain anything, as the results of that fall’s election demonstrated.
The House members who want strong antiwar language in this year’s platform aren’t trying to push Obama around; roughly half are Obama backers. Rather, they suggest, they are prodding the party to do what is necessary to prevail in November. “The Democratic Party needs this,” says Barbara Lee. “It will give the nominee the foundation and the [appeal to the] base to move forward and win.”
Will the platform process be flexible enough to accept what these superdelegates are offering? Perhaps. The closeness of this year’s nominating contest and the fact that the process will be led by backers of Obama, Clinton and John Edwards guarantees a more diverse platform committee, one that will be disinclined to rubber-stamp cautious language produced by consultants. The Win Without War coalition is mounting a campaign to get superdelegates to back the antiwar planks–and it will deliver petitions supporting it to regional platform hearings this summer and at the convention–while Progressive Democrats of America is working closely with Jim McGovern, who is likely to emerge as an outspoken grassroots supporter of the move. Says McGovern of the Democrats, “We need to demonstrate that we get it, and the platform is the place to do that.”
[John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written The Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress. Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive and In These Times and the associate editor of the Capital Times, the daily newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and dozens of other newspapers.]