Archive for December 13th, 2011
Today, former Mayor Rocky Anderson kicked off his campaign for President of the United States. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now took time to discuss the upcoming campaign with Anderson.
Here is the beginning of the interview.
AMY GOODMAN: A new political party has entered the fray as an alternative to Democrats and Republicans ahead of the 2012 elections. On Monday, the Justice Party formally kicked off its formation with an event in Washington, D.C. Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson will run for president on the Justice Party ticket.
Although hailing from a solidly red state, Rocky Anderson has been known as one of the most progressive mayors of any major U.S. city in recent years. During his two mayoral terms from 2000 to 2008, Anderson was an outspoken champion of LGBT rights, environmental sustainability and the antiwar movement in opposition to the war in Iraq.
Vowing to fight the influence of money over politics, Anderson kicked off his campaign Monday with a pledge to limit individual donations to $100 a person. He and the Justice Party say they hope to build a grassroots movement heading into the November 2012 elections.
To discuss his campaign, Rocky Anderson joins us from Washington, D.C.
Welcome to Democracy Now!, Rocky Anderson. Why have you launched this party and a presidential bid?
ROCKY ANDERSON: Good morning, Amy.
We launched the Justice Party because the entire system is so corrupt. It’s so diseased. We know that the public interest is not being served by anyone in the system right now, particularly the two dominant parties who have sustained this corrupt system and who are sustained by it.
AMY GOODMAN: Third party, what does that mean now? How exactly will you run for president?
ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, actually, I consider this a second party. The Republican-Democratic parties have—although they’re at an impasse, much to the detriment of the American people, on some issues, they really, through their collusion, have brought this country to its knees economically. Without the Democrats colluding with the Republicans, we would not have engaged in an illegal, aggressive war against Iraq. We’ve seen Democrats and Republicans together granting retroactive immunity to the telecom companies. Then-Senator Obama promised this nation, before the primary, before he won the Democratic primary for the presidency, that he would join a filibuster against telecom company immunity. And then, as soon as he won the nomination, of course, he not only didn’t—he didn’t back off—only back off on his promise to join a filibuster, he voted for the legislation. Who in this country gets Congress to grant them retroactive immunity for committing clearly felonious acts?
And then, now we see the same thing. He comes into office, and he says, “Let’s look forward, not backwards,” when it comes to war criminals, people who have engaged in torture, clearly in violation not only of international law, but domestic law. So, we have this two-tiered system of government. Not only a two-tiered system in terms of our economy, with very few privileged people cleaning up while the rest of us are suffering in so many dramatic ways because of the economic upheaval, but we have this special class of people who aren’t even held accountable under the law. And all three branches of government are part of this. The courts allow the executive branch to come in, and they dismiss cases on the basis of the subversive state secrets doctrine, where the executive branch gets to determine whether these cases go forward—victims of torture, people who are challenging illegal surveillance programs by the government. Amy, this is unprecedented in this nation and so completely contrary to the notion of an equal justice system.
AMY GOODMAN: President Obama delivered a widely discussed speech in Kansas last week that many saw as an overture to the Occupy movement and its opposition to corporate dominance of the U.S. economy. In what was widely described as a preview of his re-election campaign, Obama positioned himself as a defender of working-class Americans versus Republicans who favor the wealthy.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There are some who seem to be suffering from a kind of collective amnesia. After all that’s happened, after the worst economic crisis, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, they want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess. In fact, they want to go back to the same policies that stacked the deck against middle-class Americans for way too many years. And their philosophy is simple: we are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules. I am here to say they are wrong.
AMY GOODMAN: That was President Obama. Former Salt Lake City mayor, now presidential candidate, Rocky Anderson, your response?
ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, it’s total hypocrisy. President Obama received more money from Wall Street than any other candidate has ever received in a presidential or any other election campaign. And he surrounded himself with all these alumni from Goldman Sachs. Not one person, Amy, has spent one day in prison as a result of the massive financial fraud that we know took place by these Wall Street firms, and the people that work for them, that did so much damage to the American people. All any of us have to do is look at our pension plans, our 401(k) accounts, and we can see the direct impacts of this economic disaster, brought to us through, by and large, these criminal acts committed by these Wall Street firms and their employees. And not one of them has been brought to justice under the Obama administration.
When they make these campaign contributions, they get a very good return on their investment. But it’s no different, really, than the polluting industries making their campaign contributions, and then the EPA wanting to impose more strict ozone standards, and President Obama basically vetoing the EPA. We know that’s not in the public interest. President Obama has to know that’s not in the public interest. He’s serving the interest of those polluting industries. That’s why we don’t have real healthcare reform in this country. We’d have a universal healthcare system like the rest—every other nation in the industrialized world, were it not for the corrupting influence of the money flowing in from the medical insurance industry. So, that’s what—the failure, in terms of every major public policy issue, to serve the public interest can be attributed to that corrupting influence of money. Just follow the money, and you’ll see why Congress and the White House are pursuing these policies that are so inimical to the interest of the American people.
[The above excerpt re-published above pursuant to Democracy Now's Creative Commons attribution license].
I’ve been wondering this for years, as the USPS has been struggling to subsidize the Congressionally mandated 75 years in advance retirement plan during the worst downturn in the economy since the Great Depression. In order to continue, they have to shut down stations, limit deliveries, and eliminate next-day mail. Or be in violation of a Federal Unfunded Mandate.
Note that the Post Office receives $0.00 in taxpayer money, yet Congress gets to tell it how much it is allowed to charge, how much it has to pre-pay on all its benefit programs, and even how many free perks it has to give to members of Congress. In my lifetime, the price of a First Class stamp has gone from the price of a cup of coffee (5¢) to less than a third of that. We pay less for postage now than ever before in history, in terms of coffee, movie tickets, ounces of gold, or any hard measure.
Yet Congress in its wisdom has been steadily adding burdens and removing permissions in the last decade. And I have been wondering, why? Sure, the answer is clearly pandering to the lobbyists. But whose? Who really wants to kill the only company that delivers to every house in the country? Last night, I think I got my answer.
I was watching the news, flipping through the networks, and every outlet covered this story: Record online holiday sales trigger record shipping day.So which stations covered which shipping company? Who covered this story for the USPS? For DHL? For UPS? No one.
But FedEx was given minutes of free advertising (as an in-depth story) on every network. Thus my wacky conspiracy theory of the day is: FedEx is behind the lobbyists who are behind the legislation that is gutting the post office.