Thursday, April 20, 2006

Corporate Media & What They'll Never Tell Us in CD20

Three great articles on third-parties and their candidates.

Number One - An email from Doug Walters (Doug is seeking the Dem nod for Congress in our Congressional District). He is asking that
Dems use some common sense and see Kirsten Gillibrand for who she really is and not throw their vote away on her but vote for him instead.

Two - An AP story about Peace activist, Michael Berg (you'll remember that Nicholas Berg, his son, was beheaded in Iraq). He is running for Congress in the state of Delaware as a Green.

Three - "Gonzo" journalist, Maury Thompson, reports in his ground-breaking column, "News From the Campaign Trail", even more inane
financial information about the two fascists running in CD 20 but somehow manages to leave out any news about McCourt, Walters or Berg! Especially with Berg, what is the Post-Star so afraid of? I mean, its not like any of their readers live in Delaware and would vote for Berg! Is their corporate ownership really so mean that they would still spank them if they ran a puff piece on this guy? I can understand their non-reporting on McCourt and Walters. I mean those guys are actually
running in THIS state. If the Post-Star reported on them, people might know that they're running and take action; petitioning, helping out the campaigns, voting third party, etcetera! That's very frightening, to think about, of course. We can't have that ... but where's the danger in telling us about Berg? ;-)
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This is an email circulated by Doug Walters, who is seeking to run as a Democrat against sweeney. A lot of the "progressive democrats" types have been pushing Gillibrand hard to run for Sweeney, because Clinton supports her and she can raise money through her corporate and old-time Albany machine / Pataki lobbying connections. So far she has raised around $750,000.This is his response:

Several of you have written to Cynthia Pooler expressing your support for Kirsten Gillibrand. Some of you also expressed some pique at the idea of an upstart from downstate daring to challenge her candidacy. This was sufficiently thought-provoking for me to decide to offer a response. To the one who suggested that I should "stop whining" and should have started running "two years ago," I hope to reassure you that "whining" is not one of my character flaws.

As for running two years ago, I was a full-time felony investigator for the New York City Dept. of Probation until a few months ago. Running for political office was not only not in my mind, it was not possible.By way of introduction, I will say only that I have been a political activist for progressive causes since I began opposing the Viet Nam War in 1965. I volunteered for Eugene McCarthy in 1968. I consider George McGovern and Walter Mondale the two best presidents we never had. I spent my entire professional career as a social worker and a law enforcement officer. I was a union activist throughout my career. I supported Ken McCallion, Frank Stoppenbach, and Doris Kelley when few others were willing to do so.

Like all of you, I have wanted to send a progressive Democrat to Congress for a long time, no more thinking of myself than you were. I made the decision to run for the nomination on Feb. 1, 2006, immediately AFTER seeing and hearing Ms.Gillibrand make her formal announcement, and I urge you to consider the implications of that. Her speech was notable for lacking any coherent statement of convictions or memorable ideas--except for her statement about Iraq, which John Sweeney could have endorsed without reservation. There wasn't even a vague statement about the environment. This does not fit with any notion of a progressive Democrat. I felt confirmed in my decision by her remarks at the candidates' forum in Dutchess County on April 8th, where she continued to say that our troops are "protecting our freedom" in Iraq and "protecting Iraqis' right to a democracy," words which nobody in the room believed. Why is a "progressive" Democrat saying this?

Even more importantly, I heard all six Democrats running in the 19th Dist. speak in the afternoon. Ms.Gillibrand did not stay for this, but she should have. All six of them made excellent statements, forthright and passionate responses to questions, and presented themselves as credible candidates, unafraid to speak honestly in accord with their convictions. I think it significant that many of them have a background in public service and none of them is a corporate lawyer. The point is that Ms. Gillibrand was the only candidate there who came across as a pre-packaged media candidate making calculated statements in the hope of not affecting anyone's digestion.

I urge you to at least stop and think before subscribing to her candidacy. Which one of us does not ask, " If this is the best government money can buy, shouldn't we find a new way of choosing a government?" So why are we so eager to embrace a candidate just because she shows up with a lot of money {Where does it come from? Why was it given to her? You need to know.} and the endorsement of party insiders with a documented history of losing elections? Isn't it true that there is an inverse relationship between big money and good government? What is our goal here? Several of you have made statements to the effect that you support Gillibrand because you believe she "will be the candidate" {i.e., you are impressed by the money} and you "hope she will get better." { How so, when she has been planning this for over two years?} Others have said, "We know the system is broken but until it gets fixed, this is the best we can do," so let's all get behind Gillibrand. I have a little trouble following the logic here. Just WHO is going to "fix the system" if WE keep nominating candidates who are part and parcel of the system, and are beholden to big money instead of to the people and their needs?

Give me a break, friends. I was a criminal investigator. I know how to ask tough questions, and I know how to spot evasive answers. Sure, I'm an idealist, but I wasn't born yesterday. You are also saying, "This is a conservative district" so even though we "know she isn't just what we would like," we have to settle for second best because anybody is better than Sweeney. Is this the progessive vision that can change Congress? Is this the kind of hope that will inspire Democrats to make the effort necessary to win?In the year 2006, people want hope for a real change, not a cosmetic one. Voters respond to message, not money. I have yet to hear a real person say that Democrats should nominate a "centrist"
{Republican} and that will solve all our problems. Let's do the arithmetic.

To win the 20th, we need to win all the Democatic votes, a big majority of the No Party votes, and the disaffected Republican votes. Where do you see any spark in the Gillibrand campaign that has a hope of achieving this? Several months ago Maureen Dowd wrote a column in which she said that "Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry cannot lead the Democratic Party to victory." I have supported all those people, and voted for the last three, but Dowd is right, and we need to wake up to the truth. The same old tip-toeing around the real issues is just stumbling in the dark on the way to another defeat. 2006 is absolutely critical for our country, and for our world, given the lunatics and criminals who are running the show. 2008 will be much too late.

Ask yourself whether Congress does not already have more than enough millionaires and corporate lawyers in it. That's not being harsh, that's reality, and everybody else will be asking it. If I'm not the right candidate, fine, find another one. I would love to stay home and enjoy my retirement. But remember this: 99% of the people in this district don't know ANY of the candidates yet {except Sweeney} and they are not going to be motivated by vapid speeches and slick tv ads about nothing. I'm not afraid to say that it is just as obscene for Democrats to throw a million dollars down the drain of a meaningless media campaign as it is for Sweeney to do it. I don't know about you, but I'm not going to settle for a weak candidate who is not going to be made strong by all the professional consultants money can buy.

Even in the unlikely event that Gillibrand could defeat Sweeney, you know as well as I do that she is not somebody who will stand up to the White House or the party hierarchy or the special interests, and work to change Congress in the way it desperately needs to be changed. She is not one who is going to keep us out of Iran when the real crunch comes. She is politics as usual with a slightly different marketing spin.Give us a Barbara Boxer, a Patty Murray, or a Nydia Velasquez, and I'll work like a sled dog for her----but don't give me this! Thanks for your time. I will look forward to meeting you in person. Doug Walters _____________________________________________________________________________________

Father of Pa. man beheaded in Iraq seeks House seat in Delaware
By RANDALL CHASE
The Associated Press

WILMINGTON, Del. - Unlike other candidates who have dared to take on Delaware's popular Republican congressman in recent elections, Michael Berg shouldn't have a problem with name recognition.Since he spoke out two years ago about the death of his son Nick, a 26-year-old Pennsylvania contractor kidnapped and beheaded by Islamic militants in Iraq, Berg has been interviewed, marched in anti-war protests and given speeches around the globe.He's also been arrested about a half-dozen times for civil disobedience, most recently at the Pentagon while trying to get an audience with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The same ready-to-protest wear that he dons for demonstrations is part of his everyday appearance as he campaigns for Congress on the Green Party ticket: jeans, anti-war T-shirt and sandals."If I don't get sworn-in in my T-shirt and jeans, then I've been lying to people," said Berg, 61, an outspoken peace activist who is the only candidate for the Green Party's formal endorsement at its May convention. "I don't see the suit as the symbol of something I want to emulate."Delaware's Green Party, which boasts about 600 members in an electorate of more than 547,000 registered voters, has never won a campaign. Berg has never run for office. The incumbent, Republican Michael Castle, is the longest-serving U.S. House member in state history. Berg has raised a few thousand dollars; Castle has more than $1 million in his treasury.

But Berg is undaunted."I'm not a politician; I'm a school teacher," said Berg, who retired from teaching in 2002. "It's hard. It's emotionally exhausting. ... There are times when it's really hard to do it, but I'm committed to it."If everyone votes for what they really believe, that's all I ask," he added.What Berg believes is that Americans now understand that President Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq was wrong, and that Castle and other lawmakers who supported the war effort also are to blame."This midterm election is really a referendum on the war, it's a referendum on the Bush policies," said Berg, who believes the most urgent task facing the nation is to end U.S. military involvement in Iraq and bring the troops home. Berg said he had no notion of running for office when he moved to Delaware last spring. He just wanted to downsize from the four-bedroom house in Chester County, Pa., where he and his wife were besieged by media after their son's death, and transition to a more urban setting. Since taking up residence in Delaware, Suzanne Berg has guarded her privacy and has not appeared at her husband's campaign events. "We respect her privacy," said Berg's campaign manager, John Atkeison.

Berg switched his affiliation from Democrat to independent in 1992, fed up with what he calls front-loaded presidential primaries that left many voters out of the decision-making process. He registered with the Green Party after moving to Delaware, and party officials approached him late last summer about running."Some might whisper 'carpetbagger,' since he just came into the state in May," said Samuel Hoff, a political science professor at Delaware State University in Dover. Dennis Spivack, a Wilmington attorney seeking the Democratic nomination, said simply that he understands Delaware better than Berg does."I don't see how you can come into a state and in just three to six months be truly representative," said Spivack, a Vietnam-era Navy veteran who agrees with Berg that the Iraq war was a mistake for which Castle bears part of the blame. Castle did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Hoff gives Berg and Spivack little chance of winning but said general disillusionment with the Bush administration could reduce Castle's usually overwhelming margin by a few points."I think we have an interesting race which, on the face of it, looks like it's ganging up on Michael Castle in reference to the Iraq war," he said.Unlike his father, Nicholas Berg supported the Iraq war. The two didn't see eye-to-eye on many things, including religion and politics, but they respected each other's opinions. "He thought Saddam Hussein should be deposed, and that George Bush made a hard decision and a good one," said Michael Berg, who didn't try to dissuade his son from going to Iraq. "Bottom line is, I knew that I couldn't change his mind," he said.

Nicholas Berg traveled to Iraq late in 2003 and again in 2004, hoping to find work repairing radio towers. He was last seen on April 10, 2004, when he checked out of a Baghdad hotel. Berg's headless body was found a month later on a Baghdad street, and his killers posted a videotape of his slaying on the Internet.Berg is angry at Bush for the war and what happened to his son, but he tries not to let it control him."You can't go around telling people that you stand for peace when you have hatred and anger inside yourself," said Berg, who came away with life-changing insights after taking a course in forgiveness at Immaculata University in Pennsylvania last year."It was the first leap of faith I think I've ever taken in my life," said Berg, who had been an atheist. "I couldn't say 'forgiveness.' It was too Christian, too religious an idea for me.

"While continuing his search for a belief in God, Berg energizes himself with daily bike rides and a vegan diet while tending to his affairs, which include volunteering, protesting, writing a book and campaigning."I think this is the year for third-party candidates to win," he said, "and among all the third-party people out there, I think I stand a really good chance."

John Atkeison - Campaign Manager, Berg for Congress http://bergforcongress.us Michael Berg was thrust into the role of prominent spokesperson for the peace movement when his son Nick was abducted and killed on May 7, 2004 in retaliation for the torture of Iraquis in Abu Ghraib prison. When Mr. Berg emerged from his initial mourning, he became famous with one phrase he uttered to the press:Nicholas Berg died for the sins of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld.
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Finance reports: Bloomberg contributes to Sweeney's campaign: FEC filings out in 20th Congressional District race
By MAURY THOMPSON thompson@poststar.com
Published on 4/20/2006
News From the Campaign TrailTHE POST-STAR

Democratic congressional candidate Kirsten Gillibrand has continued to rake in campaign cash from the New York City area, while incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. John Sweeney picked up a large contribution from the city's mayor, new campaign finance reports show. Gillibrand, a lawyer from Hudson, raised $341,099 in contributions during the first three months of the year and spent $95,614 on her campaign, leaving a balance of $511,259 in her campaign fund as of March 31, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Committee over the weekend. More than half of her itemized contributors listed addresses in the New York City area. The campaign received many small donations from within the 20th District that were not itemized, said Gillibrand's campaign manager, Bill Hyers. Sweeney, of Clifton Park, raised $392,936 over the same period and spent $132,850, leaving a balance of $961,819 as of March 31. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg contributed $4,200 to Sweeney's campaign; and a political action committee headed by U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, and a potential 2008 presidential candidate, contributed $2,500, according to Sweeney's campaign finance report. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association contributed $5,000 on March 20, in addition to $5,000 contributed previously in this election cycle. Sweeney received contributions from two developers with proposed projects in downtown Glens Falls. Anthony Audi, one of three partners in a proposed hotel development across from the Glens Falls Civic Center, contributed $1,000, and Lindel Wishcamper, a principal in a firm that has proposed redeveloping the Henry Hudson Townhouses complex, contributed $500. Gillibrand received support from several prominent Democratic politicians, including $2,500 from a political action committee headed by U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and $500 from a political action committee headed by U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc. Former state Democratic Chairwoman Judith Hope contributed $1,000, and Democratic state Attorney General candidate Andrew Cuomo contributed $1,000. Edwin Pell, another Democratic candidate in the 20th District, reported raising $1,220 and spending $309, leaving a balance of $911 as of March 32. Complete campaign finance reports for candidates can be accessed here for John Sweeney and here for Kirsten Gillibrand.
Article ID No. 219290

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