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Governor Dean in the News

As you all know, Gov. Dean is nervous that Nader could hurt our chances to get GWB out, so he asks his supporters to back Kerry not Nader. Now, he's taking that plea a step further; he'll be debating Ralph Nader on July 9 (on NPR "Justice Talking").

Dean said, "I am anxious to debate Ralph Nader in order to speak about why he wants to run for president. This is the most important election in my lifetime and a third party candidate could make a difference -- this November and for years to come."

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Can you say Secretary of Health and Human Services? Nobody is saying it but it seems that everybody is certainly hinting.

See Below for excerpts taken from an interview between Governor Dean and Matthew Rothschild (The Lessons of Howard Dean, By Matthew Rothschild, The Progressive, May 18, 2004):

But Kerry doesn't excite a lot of people at the progressive grassroots. Why are you advising activists to vote for him instead of considering Ralph Nader or whomever the Green Party puts up?

Because the stakes are too big. For those of us who believe in health care for every American, it's very clear that John Kerry is going to bring us closer to that than George Bush is. For those of us who believe in supporting the environment, Kerry's record is far better than George Bush's on the environment. Sometimes from the point of view of the activist, the perfect becomes the enemy of the good, and I think there would be a huge price to be paid by America's working people and by small children and by minorities if George Bush is reelected for a second term. The only person who can be President other than George Bush is John Kerry, so it makes no sense to vote for Ralph Nader. This is one election where a vote for Ralph Nader is essentially a vote for George Bush.

But don't you think people have the right to vote for whomever they want?

People absolutely have the right. I've played no part in trying to keep Ralph Nader off the ballot. Nor will I. I think that would be a big mistake. But I do plan on playing a vigorous part to convince these people to vote for John Kerry.

How scary is the prospect of another four years of George Bush?

It's devastating for the country: a half-trillion dollar deficit for every single year, God knows what additional military adventures are being planned that we're not being told about, the worst environmental President since the League of Conservation Voters has been evaluating them, half a million children have lost their health care. The legacy of George Bush will be far worse than any President in my lifetime, and we can't afford another four years of this.

People often ask me, "Will Bush give up power if he loses?" Do you have any fear that he would not go quietly?

My biggest fear is that the election will be stolen again as it was in Florida by the elimination of large numbers of the African American community from the voter rolls by a private company contracting with the state. The election was clearly not won by George Bush in Florida, and then the Supreme Court put politics above loyalty to the country. So that's my greatest fear: not that George Bush won't go quietly according to the law, but that before the law gets enforced there will be a great deal of fiddling with it.

What can be done to stop that?

I've spoken to John Kerry about that, and he's going to have some legal teams in Florida. And I think we clearly have to deal with the voting machine issue: The Diebold voting machines have been undermined by their own chairman, who said he was going to do everything he could to get George Bush reelected. We've got to have legal advice, and we've got to have technical advice to make sure that those voting machines, which cannot be recounted, are used properly.

What is the goal of Democracy for America?

My goal is to elect as many grassroots candidates around the country as possible. We have over 400 people running for office: school board, county commissioner, mayor, state legislator. And I want to support them. Obviously, I want to support Democrats, particularly progressive Democrats who supported us. And if we can, to take back the House and Senate, which we're not that far from doing.

What do you see yourself doing? Are you interested in joining the Kerry Administration if offered?

Well, you know, that's up to John Kerry, not up to me. I'm interested in getting John Kerry elected President. And then I'm interested in doing whatever I can to see that Democrats retain Democratic values. And the thing I'm most interested in is health insurance for everybody. We're the only country in the industrialized world that doesn't have that, and we need that.

How do we get it?

It's not hard. Interestingly enough, Kerry's plan and my plan are very similar. What we did was based on what we did in Vermont. We really can get there. We don't have to take away people's choice of doctors, or any of those things that Harry and Louise talked about ten years ago. Certainly, Clinton's attempt to get universal health care didn't work. But this can be done within the context of what we have now. Then we can talk about changing it. We should get everybody in the system first, and then worry about changing it later. We've tried to do it in the reverse several times, and it's failed.

Posted by Charlene Johnston on May 31, 2004 at 10:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

Personal Contact Solution to Voter Registration

I was talking to someone at work a few weeks ago and politics came up. He whispered, "I know we're not supposed to talk politics, but...." I told him that I think that if Americans don't start talking politics our country will be permanently stolen away from us. We can't rely on the media so how else are we going to get information communicated and new ideas circulated.

Today (May 20, 2004), AlterNet posted an article by Matt Taibbi, MediaChannel.org, Does 'Rock the Vote' Miss the Boat? In it a Yale University political science professor, Donald Green, is quoted saying, "I've never seen any evidence that the specific message matters." He continues, "What does matter is the presence of a personal contact."

The article also states,

[Green] found that activist campaigns which used personal contacts and telephone calls from peers helped increase voter turnout in some elections by 8 to 12 percent, while even well-funded campaigns that use the methods favored by Rock the Vote – viral e-mail campaigns, television advertising, celebrity appeals and other media – had almost no effect on voter turnout.

"[The big media groups] would seem to be neither the problem nor the solution," says Green. "But what does seem clear is that the most important factor in whether or not a person registers to vote is the presence of a personal connection encouraging him to do so."

Green also believes that the actual message of candidates and activist groups is, ironically enough, probably irrelevant as a factor in encouraging young people to vote.

Wow, I think we all know that intuitively but to hear it straight out puts things in perspective.

I'm attending a meeting on Monday night led by a local group, Progressive Democrats (PDM). I met a member of PDM at the state convention this May and he told me that a local political science professor trained their group how to open up political conversations with people. I told him that I thought that was exactly what I needed for training. I tend to jump right in on some issue and argue my point. I'm sure this is not the best way to attract folks that have never been involved in politics before. LOL.

I'll try and post some of what I learn from them here so all of you can benefit from it as well. When I get my laptop back, I will be posting some of my notes from the training sessions that I participated in at the state convention as well.

Posted by Jessica Falker on May 21, 2004 at 03:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

"The Day After Tomorrow" Movie

You've got to love the controversy being stirred up by movies lately. They get so much press that you don't even need a trailer to know what the story is about. The latest battering ram of the current administration is being provided by the movie, The Day After Tomorrow. The film explores the possible scenario that climate change resulting from global warming could cause an ice age.

I wrote a paper in college that discussed the possibility that global warming could create storms that would force the earth into another ice age. I wonder where that paper went to? It would be handy to have as I write a letter to the editor. My plan is to write to the newspapers using this event to talk about an email I received this week from an EPA list serve dedicated to climate change. This particular email advertised the services for two corporations (GMAC Insurance and OnStar), under the guise of companies that encourage driving less miles. The list serve used to provide scientific data and examples of what others were doing to reduce their impact on the environment.

The administration is so afraid of the public outcry that could be generated by this movie that they tried to restrict any NASA staff from doing interviews or commenting "on anything having to do with" the film. Because a senior NASA scientist resented attempts to muzzle climate researchers, he leaked a copy of the message to the NY Times. The message read, "Any news media wanting to discuss science fiction vs. science fact about climate change will need to seek comment from individuals or organizations not associated with NASA." NASA has since relaxed its stance.

My favorite quote is from former Vice President Al Gore,

"There are two sets of fiction to deal with. One is the movie, the other is the Bush administration's presentation of global warming."

Here's some things you can do to help America recognize that it must act as a leader to curb global warming effects?

* Ask family and friends to go to the movie with you (even if it is a FOX production).

* Join MoveOn members outside the theater and handout flyers explaining global warming and the effect of US policies.

* Write your representatives if they don't already support Bill #S. 17, Global Climate Security Act of 2003, a bill to initiate responsible Federal actions that will reduce the risks from global warming and climate change to the economy, the environment, and quality of life, and for other purposes. For a list of supporters, use http://thomas.loc.gov.

* Write a letter to the editor suggesting that people support S.17.

* Reduce your global warming impact and buy credits to offset your carbon emissions.

Posted by Charlene Johnston on May 12, 2004 at 11:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)

Prosecute Rumsfeld and Be Informed to Speak Up Against Abuses.

If you're tired of people demanding for the resignation of Rumsfeld, tell your Senators and Representatives that they should demand criminal prosecution of Rumsfeld. He broke the law when he lied to Congress and we need to prove that these individuals are not above the law. Rumsfeld makes Nixon look good.

* Misappropriation of funds--directed funds appropriated for Afghanistan to be used in preparing for Iraq invasion. Kept this information from Congress.

* Lied to Congress regarding WMD in order to get his planned war in Iraq.

* Instructs his subordinates that the US is above the Geneva conventions, existing US military protocols and training.

A New Yorker article, CHAIN OF COMMAND, by Seymour Hersh posted on on 5/9/04, details Rumsfeld's ongoing belief that he and his staff are above the law. The article says that in 2002, Rumsfeld was exchanging secret memorandums with his senior aides

"on modifying the culture of the military leaders and finding ways to encourage them 'to take greater risks.' One memo spoke derisively of the generals in the Pentagon, and said, 'Our prerequisite of perfection for "actionable intelligence" has paralyzed us. We must accept that we may have to take action before every question can be answered.' The Defense Secretary was told that he should 'break the "belt-and-suspenders" mindset within today’s military . . . we "over-plan" for every contingency. . . . We must be willing to accept the risks.' With operations involving the death of foreign enemies, the memo went on, the planning should not be carried out in the Pentagon: 'The result will be decision by committee.

The Pentagon’s impatience with military protocol extended to questions about the treatment of prisoners caught in the course of its military operations. Soon after 9/11, as the war on terror got under way, Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly made public his disdain for the Geneva conventions. Complaints about America’s treatment of prisoners, Rumsfeld said in early 2002, amounted to 'isolated pockets of international hyperventilation.'"

This morning I was outraged when I heard two talk radio hosts discussing the Abu Ghraib Confinement Facility photographs; they defended the abuses saying that they wanted to know what the outcome of the torture and humiliation was. By saying this, they imply that it is okay to violate the Geneva Convention and okay for us to act immoral. I decided I needed to have the facts in order to respond to those that would make statements like that.


Several US Army Soldiers have committed egregious acts and grave breaches of international law at Abu Ghraib/BCCF and Camp Bucca, Iraq. Furthermore, key senior leaders in both the 800th MP Brigade and the 205th MI Brigade failed to comply with established regulations, policies, and command directives in preventing detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib (BCCF) and at Camp Bucca during the period August 2003 to February 2004.
The report shows a pattern of abuse and does not indicate that these were isolated incidents as Rumsfeld would like to claim.


S) That between October and December 2003, at the Abu Ghraib Confinement Facility (BCCF), numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees. This systemic and illegal abuse of detainees was intentionally perpetrated by several members of the military police guard force (372nd Military Police Company, 320th Military Police Battalion, 800th MP Brigade), in Tier (section) 1-A of the Abu Ghraib Prison (BCCF). The allegations of abuse were substantiated by detailed witness statements (ANNEX 26) and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence. Due to the extremely sensitive nature of these photographs and videos, the ongoing CID investigation, and the potential for the criminal prosecution of several suspects, the photographic evidence is not included in the body of my investigation. The pictures and videos are available from the Criminal Investigative Command and the CTJF-7 prosecution team. In addition to the aforementioned crimes, there were also abuses committed by members of the 325th MI Battalion, 205th MI Brigade, and Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center (JIDC). Specifically, on 24 November 2003, SPC Luciana Spencer, 205th MI Brigade, sought to degrade a detainee by having him strip and returned to cell naked. (ANNEXES 26 and 53)

6. (S) I find that the intentional abuse of detainees by military police personnel included
the following acts:
a. (S) Punching, slapping, and kicking detainees; jumping on their naked feet;
b. (S) Videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees;
c. (S) Forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for
d. (S) Forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several
days at a time;
e. (S) Forcing naked male detainees to wear women’s underwear;
f. (S) Forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being
photographed and videotaped;
g. (S) Arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them;
h. (S) Positioning a naked detainee on a MRE Box, with a sandbag on his head, and
attaching wires to his fingers, toes, and penis to simulate electric torture;
i. (S) Writing “I am a Rapest” (sic) on the leg of a detainee alleged to have forcibly
raped a 15-year old fellow detainee, and then photographing him naked;
j. (S) Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee’s neck and having a
female Soldier pose for a picture;
k. (S) A male MP guard having sex with a female detainee;
l. (S) Using military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten
detainees, and in at least one case biting and severely injuring a detainee;
m. (S) Taking photographs of dead Iraqi detainees.
(ANNEXES 25 and 26)

8. (U) In addition, several detainees also described the following acts of abuse, which under the circumstances, I find credible based on the clarity of their statements and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses (ANNEX 26): a. (U) Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; b. (U) Threatening detainees with a charged 9mm pistol; c. (U) Pouring cold water on naked detainees; d. (U) Beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; e. (U) Threatening male detainees with rape; f. (U) Allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; g. (U) Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick. h. (U) Using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.
SGT Javal S. Davis, 372nd MP Company, stated in his sworn statement as follows: “I witnessed prisoners in the MI hold section, wing 1A being made to do various things that I would question morally. In Wing 1A we were told that they had different rules and different SOP for treatment. I never saw a set of rules or SOP for that section just word of mouth. The Soldier in charge of 1A was Corporal Granier. He stated that the Agents and MI Soldiers would ask him to do things, but nothing was ever in writing he would complain (sic).” When asked why the rules in 1A/1B were different than the rest of the wings, SGT Davis stated: “The rest of the wings are regular prisoners and 1A/B are Military Intelligence (MI) holds.” When asked why he did not inform his chain of command about this abuse, SGT Davis stated: “ Because I assumed that if they were doing things out of the ordinary or outside the guidelines, someone would have said something. Also the wing belongs to MI and it appeared MI personnel approved of the abuse.” SGT Davis also stated that he had heard MI insinuate to the guards to abuse the inmates. When asked what MI said he stated: “Loosen this guy up for us.” Make sure he has a bad night.” “Make sure he gets the treatment.” He claimed these comments were made to CPL Granier and SSG Frederick. Finally, SGT Davis stated that (sic): “the MI staffs to my understanding have been giving Granier compliments on the way he has been handling the MI holds. Example being statements like, “Good job, they’re breaking down real fast. They answer every question. They’re giving out good information, Finally, and Keep up the good work . Stuff like that.”

Since some good news was mentioned in the report, I'd like to give credit to individuals that did not participate in these abuses. These individuals should be praised for refusing to participate and/or reporting the abuses.

1) Master-at-Arms First Class William J. Kimbro, US Navy Dog Handler, refused to participate in improper interrogations "despite significant pressure from the MI personnel at Abu Ghraib."
2) SPC Joseph M. Darby, 372nd MP Company, reported abuses to military law enforcement.
3) 1LT David O. Sutton, 229th MP Company, stopped an abuse and reported the incident to the chain of command.

Thanks to these individuals and media sources not beholden to neoconservatives this news made it to the American public. We now have an obligation to do something with the news. Contact your politicians and tell them to stop asking for Rumsfeld's resignation. We want him Criminally Prosecuted!

I've saved a copy of the report in case it gets pulled off the internet. Let me know if you want a copy.

Posted by Charlene Johnston on May 10, 2004 at 01:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Keep your Religion off my Healthcare

Imagine, you are woman living in a small town and decide to go to the local Pharmacy to pick up your Birth control pills. This pharmacy happens to be the only one for 100 miles or so from your house. You give the prescription to the Pharmacist – and he tells you “Sorry, I won’t fill this, it’s against my religious beliefs”. You argue with him, but he tells you he is within his rights to deny you your pills, as his religion is against birth control pills.

Another instance, your son is a gay man and breaks his leg. He goes to the local emergency room, but the doctor on duty refuses to treat him. You son protests, but the doctor tells him Homosexuality is against his morals - so he feels it is within his rights to not treat a gay man.

Farfetched? Impossible? Not in America? Think again. Michigan is in the process of passing just such legislation.

It will allow Pharmacists and other health care providers the right to refuse care in “non life threatening” instances – if it is against their morals or religious beliefs. This legislation is currently awaiting approval in the Republican controlled Senate, and has been introduced in a number of other states. We must do whatever we can to oppose this legislation, or we will be legalizing medical discrimination on anyone that does not conform to the “norms” of the caregiver. These articles of legislation work to strip rights from large segments of society, such as gay and lesbians – as well as women – and will allow caregivers to discriminate against anyone they want. All they need to do is come up with a moral objection to whoever that person is…

Remember to never close your eyes, as the Right Wing Religious Zealots in this country are always waiting, always watching. They understand that every position they can fill, every piece of legislation they can pass, and every politician they can elect will place them one step closer to having control over all of those that would oppose their religious and moral beliefs – and bring their religion into every aspect of our lives.

This is just one example of why we must all fight to win every victory, whether it is a Town Clerk position, a State Legislator, a City Councilor, or the leader of a trade group. Every little win, every progressive person that wins or earns a position or office – or joins a Democratic Committee – brings us one step closer to taking over the Democratic Party – and removing the radical Right Wing from power in this country. This is a long, hard fight – but we need to fight it – AND we need to win. If we do not, our futures – and the futures of our children – will be determined more by religion and wealth – than on their own merits – or by their right to pursue happiness…

The actual bill can be found at:


Posted by Jessica Falker on May 8, 2004 at 04:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Article Credits Governor Dean

Alternet has a story that credits Governor Dean with bringing life back into American politics. I figured that you would all enjoy hearing credit given where credit is due, so here's a quote from the article On the Spot: Howard Dean Embraces Tom Hayden, By Don Hazen, AlterNet, May 5, 2004:

"Howard Dean, who brought life and hope to the Democratic Party political process during the primaries – he 'gave America back its political pulse,' as one speaker described it – was greeted with a rousing standing ovation when brought on stage to introduce lefty political hero Tom Hayden. Clearly for this crowd, Dean was still their presidential candidate. . .

. . . and beyond the scenes there was much hand wringing about the lack of fire and clarity coming from the Kerry campaign.

Hayden was receiving the Upton Sinclair Award – named after the muckraking journalist who wrote searing social commentary including "The Jungle" (1906), which changed the nation's meat packing industry. Hayden was warmly embraced by Howard Dean, who read a supportive letter of congratulations to Hayden from soon-to-be presidential nominee John Kerry. Dean pointed out that social justice is again in the air, as it had been when he was in college 35 years ago, when Tom Hayden was providing the leadership. Hayden, in his speech, suggested that Dean may be the key person between victory and defeat for the Democrats in November. Hayden also spoke movingly about the energy in the Los Angeles progressive community:"

For more, http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=18600.

Posted by Charlene Johnston on May 7, 2004 at 08:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Corporate Sponsored Censorship

Most of us are aware that Michael Moore has been busy for the past year putting together his investigative film, "Fahrenheit 9/11". The film will obviously paint a bleak picture of the current criminals in the White House, but Miramax, which is owned by Disney has blocked the distribution of the film.

What can we do? I'm not sure, but a nationwide boycott of Disney would certainly be a step in the right direction as would letting them know this is unacceptable in a semi-free country.
Wednesday, May 5th, 2004
Disney Has Blocked the Distribution of My New Film... by Michael Moore


I would have hoped by now that I would

be able to put my work out to the public without having to experience the profound censorship obstacles I often seem to encounter.

Yesterday I was told that Disney, the studio that owns Miramax, has officially decided to prohibit our producer, Miramax, from distributing my new film, "Fahrenheit 9/11." The reason? According to today's (May 5) New York Times, it might "endanger" millions of dollars of tax breaks Disney receives from the state of Florida because the film will "anger" the Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush. The story is on page one of the Times and you can read it here (Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes Bush).

The whole story behind this (and other attempts) to kill our movie will be told in more detail as the days and weeks go on. For nearly a year, this struggle has been a lesson in just how difficult it is in this country to create a piece of art that might upset those in charge (well, OK, sorry -- it WILL upset them...big time. Did I mention it's a comedy?). All I can say is, thank God for Harvey Weinstein and Miramax who have stood by me during the entire production of this movie.

There is much more to tell, but right now I am in the lab working on the print to take to the Cannes Film Festival next week (we have been chosen as one of the 18 films in competition). I will tell you this: Some people may be afraid of this movie because of what it will show. But there's nothing they can do about it now because it's done, it's awesome, and if I have anything to say about it, you'll see it this summer -- because, after all, it is a free country.

Posted by Account Deleted on May 5, 2004 at 08:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)