inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #26 of 91: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Fri 15 Dec 06 05:37
    
When did you actually write this book, and what changes have happened
since then that you would have included?
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #27 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Fri 15 Dec 06 10:12
    
Hi Robert and Sharon!

I finished writing the books in September 2006, so the content is
quite new. Clearly there have been changes since then, but honestly I
wouldn't add much to the books at this point. In Volume 2, an update
about the 2006 elections, and that's about it.

The main "vision" of The Progressives’ Handbooks is that an informed
and active citizenry can absolutely turn things around – and that ten
minutes per day can make a difference. As such, the books aren't just
litanies of past failures as much as a tying together of repetitive
themes so we can more easily identify future offences and then
immediately DO something about them.

We're on the same wavelength, Howard! I just put out a blog on a
similar topic. 

How can progressives help keep the spotlight on those responsible for
the rollbacks? Good question. My first instinct is to say by making
sure their congressmembers hold investigations into what went wrong
across the board, from Katrina to Bagram. I know I harp on that.

Confronting those within the Democratic party who mirror Bush & Co. on
critical issues is in order too. In fact,today's blog had this quote
from an October 2006 report from the Democratic Leadership Council's
Progressive Policy Institute: "America needs a bigger and better
military ... Democrats should step forward with a plan to repair the
damage, by adding more troops, replenishing depleted stocks of
equipment, and reorganizing the force around the new missions of
unconventional warfare, counterinsurgency, and civil reconstruction."  

There seems to be a battle for the soul of the Democratic Party taking
place now and any emails, calls, faxes etc. sent to politicians
demanding a more progressive stance can't hurt. But anyway, that's a
good question. I’d like to hear ideas on that too.

If the Democrats are complicit? Then so be it. They might change their
tune if they realize we are watching carefully.

The whole foreign policy issue sure is compelling now, what with
Rumsfeld's departure, Rice’s rejecting talks with Iran and Syria and
the new damning evidence that Tony Blair lied to lead his people into
war… 
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #28 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Fri 15 Dec 06 13:32
    
As a side note to what can be done for accountability, FindLaw's John
Dean (of Watergate fame) made an interesting argument today: impeach
those under Bush/Cheney -

"Lowering the aim of an impeachment effort to focus on those who have
aided and abetted, or directly engaged in, the commission of high
crimes and misdemeanors, would have all the positives, and none of the
negatives, of going after Bush and Cheney. It would not be an effort to
overturn the 2004 election, but rather to rid the government of those
who have participated, along with Bush and Cheney, in abuses and
misuses of power; indeed, many among them have actually encouraged Bush
and Cheney to undertake the offensive activities."
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #29 of 91: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 15 Dec 06 14:37
    
Hmm.  Charging generals with war crimes could be interesting. It might push
some members of the public into support the army, hate their commander 
mode, for example.

It's all so tragic...  but there's a lot to do to clean up this mess.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #30 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Sat 16 Dec 06 01:58
    

I believe Dean is talking about going after civil officers rather than
military generals etc., in order to be sure they don't go on and rise
within the ranks of government. Someone like John Yoo, who used to work
as legal counsel in the Justice Dept., a.k.a. the "legal architect" of
US torture programs, perhaps.

Agreed, the war crimes angle is really interesting. I have a section
in the book about how not only Bush Jr. and Sr. are complicit, but
Clinton also (re. depleted uranium weaponry). 

Regarding this administration, it's worth looking at the Nuremberg
Principles again. For example, Principle VI says that the following are
punishable as crimes under international law:
(a) Crimes against peace:
(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression
or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or
assurances;
(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the
accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
(b) War Crimes:
Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not
limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation of slave labor or for
any other purpose of the civilian population of or in occupied
territory; murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on
the Seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property,
wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not
justified by military necessity.
(c) Crimes against humanity:
Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane
acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on
political, racial, or religious grounds, when such acts are done or
such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with
any crime against peace or any war crime.

Sound familiar?
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #31 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Sat 16 Dec 06 02:13
    
Hi everyone, welcome to the discussion.

Shifting a bit towards foreign policy, up above Sharon asks about changes 
that have occurred since you wrote Volume 2.  There's one huge change with
a potential dramatic effect on Foreign Policy that coincided with the 
elections:

Rumsfeld.

I'm wondering about Heather's thoughts on Rumsfeld's "resignation", and what
if anything progressive voters could have done to help hasten the removal
of someone in his position.  Even the protests of high level generals with
threats of and actual resignations did not help, at least in the short term.
Democratic congressmen were already pressuring for action, along with a good
number of republicans, yet the Bush administration stuck with him far, far 
too long.  What more could John Doe voter have done?
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #32 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Sat 16 Dec 06 02:18
    
Slipped by Heather herself there; good morning!

The interesting thing to me about the war crimes aspect is that it doesn't 
have to necessarily be US courts that convict.  The image of Yoo travelling 
abroad someday and being apprehended and whisked off to The Hague for trial 
is an unusual image to say the least.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #33 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Sat 16 Dec 06 05:52
    
Good morning Howard!

In my view there was little that could have been done by "John Doe
voter" to hasten Rumsfeld's departure; the midterms sealed that.
Typically though, his replacement is almost as questionable – Robert
Gates is controversial due to his alleged role in the Iran-Contra
affair. If I were to include anything new in the Foreign Policy section
of The Progressives' Handbook, Volume 2,  it would be a comparison of
how Congress showed backbone and integrity back in the late 80s and
early 90s in seriously questioning Gates' politicizing of intelligence
and role in Iran-Contra – then rolled over and played dead in 2006.
Scandalous.

Looking at the whole war crimes issue, it's always interesting to
remember that the US is the only country to have been condemned by the
International Court of Justice for terrorism ("unlawful use of force").
That was back in the 80s and the ruling was just ignored. Regarding
the Hague today, so many EU countries are also complicit in these
"extraordinary renditions," secret prisons etc. that I don't think war
crimes charges will happen now (i.e. because the Bush administration
could threaten to level counter-charges against EU officials) so it
will be up to NGOs and legal groups to do the dirty work. A lot of
material to work with though!
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #34 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Sat 16 Dec 06 09:13
    
What do you think about the current war crimes charges brought in Germany
last month against Yoo, Gonzales, and others?  Posturing?  I know it is
unlikely they will go anywhere, but it does raise interesting possibilities.
What is the public feeling there in Europe?  They barely made the news here.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #35 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Sat 16 Dec 06 14:30
    
That case honestly has not gotten much press over here, but it is
interesting. Some background: the US-based Center for Constitutional
Rights recently filed a writ in a German court, since courts there have
universal jurisdiction in cases involving war crimes or crimes against
humanity. The charges (involving detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and
Guantánamo) are against current/former Bush administration officials
and military officers including Rumsfeld, Gonzales, former CIA director
Tenet and something like a dozen others. The charges were initially
brought in 2004, but dismissed on the grounds that the matter should be
handled in the US. Since the Military Commissions Act provided
retroactive immunity, however, lawyers argued the charges should be
brought again.

Honestly, I think it's too much of a hot potato for the German
Chancellor Merkel to tolerate for long, but the preliminary proceedings
continue. I've heard that they plan to bring similar suits in other
countries in the EU too – the intent being to shed some light on
prisoner abuse and to shame those involved. A story that will be
interesting to follow.

The public feeling in the EU tends to be, very broadly speaking, that
Bush is incompetent and the US is on a path which endangers the world.
That's being euphemistic.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #36 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Sat 16 Dec 06 19:34
    
Judging by the President's approval rating, that may well be the prevailing 
domestic opinion as well right now.

In your experience, how has public opinion in the EU changed since the 
mid-term elections?
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #37 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Sun 17 Dec 06 00:11
    
Not at all. People here are focusing on their own politics and vaguely
hoping that things improve in the US, but not highly optimistic. It's
a wait and see game.

There's an area that we tend not to see as foreign policy but really
is: the environment. It's one of the chapters in The Progressives'
Handbook, Volume 2, and a topic that gets far too little play in the
US. The book talks about major rollbacks in US water and air under Bush
et al, decreased protections for land and animals as well as some of
the tactics used to keep Americans in the dark environmentally.
Europeans are often privy to this information (through documentaries,
newspaper articles etc.) more than those in the US since stateside
environmental woes impact them directly. One example is the current
crisis with Austrian ski resorts – there's no snow! Unheard of that in
mid-December there is no snow here. People are pointing fingers at US
foot-dragging on global warming.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #38 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Sun 17 Dec 06 09:20
    
Foot-dragging may be too kind a term there, in fact.  The recent reports
of USGS scientists having their publications screened for policy-threatening
positions is pretty amazing:

http://www.livescience.com/forcesofnature/061214_ap_usgs_screening.html

And, of course, active interference in publications simply because
they *might* show a link to global warming is something that the current
administration has been faulted for before as well:

http://www.livescience.com/forcesofnature/060926_ap_whitehouse_hurricane.html

Global warming is an issue that ties in to a whole lot of our culture in
sometimes unexpected ways.  It is more or less common knowledge that fuel
emissions and coal-burning power plants produce a large amount of greenhouse
gases; fewer people realize that cattle ranching worldwide produces a similar
amount of greenhouse gases.  

However, it is a problem that can be affected in a positive manner by people 
even in their day to day lives.  For example, even proper tire inflation on 
autos in the US can make a significant fuel economy difference.

There is a lot that can be done about it, and a lot of places to find the 
information needed to do so.  However, there is an institutional force, driven
both by this administration and lobbyists in Washington, that seeks to deny,
in 2006, that it is even a problem at all.

In the "Ten Easy Ways" section of the Environment chapter of Volume 2, you
list some ways of keeping tabs on local and national politicians on the
environment.  However, this is a topic that has an almost religious division
of opinion; the right has been engendering an almost blind denial of this
as a problem.  This is not a partisan issue by nature, although it is being 
made into a de facto one.  How can we fight that?
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #39 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Sun 17 Dec 06 11:21
    
Good question. The topic seems so amorphous that many people don't
really comprehend it as a crisis. Only this year, now that skiing
holidays have been impacted, is it really hitting home in many EU
countries. 

Al Gore has done an incredible job of spreading the word – not sure if
you heard about it but every kid in Scotland will have the chance to
see An Inconvenient Truth, thanks to a donation from a major windfarm
developer. Gore is setting up deals with other countries to do the
same. 

The web site for the book/film offers some great action ideas. Here's
an excerpt: (http://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/) 

-----------
The average American generates about 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide
every year from personal transportation, home energy use and from the
energy used to produce all of the products and services we consume.
CALCULATE YOUR PERSONAL IMPACT to see how much CO2 you produce each
year.
JOIN THE GLOBAL WARMING VIRTUAL MARCH at www.stopglobalwarming.org.
You have the power to make a difference. Small changes to your daily
routine can add up to big changes in helping to stop global warming.
 Reduce your impact AT HOME
 Reduce your impact WHILE ON THE MOVE
 Help bring about change LOCALLY, NATIONALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY
 Download these 10 SIMPLE TIPS to take with you!
After reducing your emissions you can do even more by going "carbon
neutral. " By supporting clean renewable energy, you can effectively
neutralize your personal CO2 emissions. Your small investment will
ensure that for every ton of carbon dioxide you are emitting, a ton of
carbon dioxide will not be released into the atmosphere. Go NEUTRAL!

Learn about other ways that movies are inspiring people to make a
difference at PARTICIPATE. 

(links to various activities/information are included on the site)
---------

In my view it's the same with foreign policy, the environment,
education – anything. The more we take these negative developments
personally, the more likely we will be to fight back…
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #40 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Mon 18 Dec 06 07:25
    
That's a really good point about taking things personally.  Regardless of
who one voted for, it *is* our government after all.  And whatever mess they
make is ours to clean up.

You mention Al Gore above, and I am glad you did.  I have been very surprised
by Gore in recent years.  Not only has he been doing amazing work, like you
mentioned, but he has shown himself to be a very charismatic and persuasive
speaker.  He's still not up to, say, Clinton in that regard, but the change
since his 2000 campaign is amazing.

You are (rightly in my opinion) critical of Gore in his handling of the 
aftermath of 2000 election.  In short, what happened?  How do you feel 
about the chances of Gore running again in 2008, which he is being a bit 
coy about?
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #41 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Mon 18 Dec 06 08:59
    
Big question if Gore will run again. What's your take on that?
Certainly he has avid grassroots support (draftgore.com,
draftgore2008.org, etc.) and has been putting himself in the spotlight
even more after the midterms, but it could also be to rev up support
for an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth – nominations come out in
January. He has support as the guy who was cheated out of 2000, but as
you mentioned, many of us are unhappy that he didn't fight harder. My
guess is that the Democratic leadership advised against it and so he
didn't, but when Kerry did the same thing four years later, it didn't
help the party's credibility, to put it mildly.

On the Republican side, I expect frontrunners McCain and Giuliani to
spend the next two years trying to appeal to economic/social
conservatives, yet each appeals to many Democrats as well. That,
combined with the ongoing questions regarding voting integrity, does
not bode well for the Democrats in 2008, in my view. Maybe I've become
jaded…
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #42 of 91: Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Mon 18 Dec 06 09:25
    
I may have mentioned this to Howard before, but as much as a Gore fan as I
am, I really don't want him to run in 08. The work he's doing with raising
public awareness of the depth and breadth of the climate disaster is too
important to be sucked into what would inevitably be a campaign about Iraq,
and the 2000 election is still too close for people to be objective about
him. With even progressives criticizing him for not fighting hard enough in
2000, you know that the people who attacked him in 00 as a liar, or as a
wuss, or as a loon are already sharpening their knives for him in 08.

I would like to see him run, instead, in '12 or '16 -- he's young enough
that those are viable years for a presidential campaign, memories of 00 will
have faded, and the climate disaster will be bad enough then that it will be
the #1 issue, and Gore would have the broad legitimacy on the subject to be
the go-to guy as leader.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #43 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Mon 18 Dec 06 09:56
    
The problem is, if not Gore, who is really a better choice?  There are a 
number of interesting Democratic potential candidates, but in my opinion 
Gore easily outshines them, even now.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #44 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Mon 18 Dec 06 10:47
    
I would have to agree with Jamais that it might be better for Gore to
wait. I don't think he'd have a chance to win in 2008 – most of the US
population probably hasn't even heard about An Inconvenient Truth and
doesn't care about global warming anyway. Others remember him from 2000
and see his chance as president as over for whatever reason. Sad but
true. But I do share your concern about who then is a viable candidate
for the Democrats, Howard. I just can't see Clinton or Obama carrying
the 2008 election alone, and Edwards is tainted for the same reason as
Gore.

Let's reframe this. If you had your dream choice – the person you
think actually would do a great job in leading the US during these
tough times, regardless of if the person seems to have a chance of
winning right now, who would it/they be?
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #45 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Mon 18 Dec 06 10:50
    
Clinton.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #46 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Mon 18 Dec 06 10:50
    
Bill, that is :)
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #47 of 91: Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Mon 18 Dec 06 10:54
    
Me, but I would stand no chance of being elected. :)
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #48 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Mon 18 Dec 06 11:00
    
Well, you have a better chance than Bill does, at least.  Pesky Constitution.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #49 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Mon 18 Dec 06 12:02
    
OK, a Cascio/Clinton ticket it is then. Better than most of what I've
seen so far! Who will be in your Cabinet then? As a concerned voter,
can I request a place for Feingold?

Glad to hear that our new dream team will be future-thinking...
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #50 of 91: Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Mon 18 Dec 06 12:39
    
(I'm kidding, of course -- I don't have the stomach for compromise in a time
when the world is falling apart.)

Personally, I like Feingold. Gore, of course. Elliot Abrams looks
interesting, although I admit I don't know his policy positions in detail.
  

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