Stand up, keep fighting

While it’s too soon to offer a full analysis of the recall of Calif. Gov. Gray Davis and his replacement by Arnold Schwarzenegger, some factors are fairly clear:

• Anger over the economy. Polls and interviews indicate wide anger over the state’s fiscal problems and budget crisis. A survey of 4,000 California voters on Oct. 7 showed deep pessimism about the state’s economy.

• The use of racism and anti-immigrant hysteria. For example, the ultra-right suggested that Davis, by signing a bill enabling undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, was giving a green light to terrorism. Schwarzenegger and the GOP did not hesitate to slur Mexican Americans and Native Americans to divert discussion away from real issues and solutions. Nevertheless, voters saw through and defeated racist Prop. 54.

• The continuing influence of male chauvinism. How else can one explain the promotion and legitimization of a blatant abuser of women?

• The role of big money and the corporate media. The recall was launched by millionaire Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who paid huge sums to hire professional signature collectors, many using fake California addresses. The biggest single source of recall campaign money – $10.3 million – was Schwarzenegger’s personal bank account. The ever more monopolized corporate media, who increasingly blur the lines between entertainment, advertising and reality, helped Schwarzenegger translate his celebrity persona into votes.

• The failure of centrist Democrats who don’t take a fighting stand on behalf of working families. Davis largely failed to fight for the concerns of workers, minorities, and the poor. When he finally did so, in the last weeks of the recall campaign, it was too little and too late. Even among those who voted against the recall, there was major unhappiness with Davis.

The ultra-right uses fake populist millionaire front men like George W. Bush and Arnold Schwarzenegger to advance their pro-corporate agenda. But they don’t have the last word.

Like Paul Wellstone said: Stand up, keep fighting. Like Gus Hall said: It takes a fight to win!

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White House crime

Question: “When do you know George W. Bush is lying?”

Answer: “When his lips are moving.”

That witticism sprang to mind as Bush solemnly vowed full cooperation with Attorney General John Ashcroft’s probe of who among “senior White House” officials “outed” CIA operative Valerie Plame.

It is a felony to publicly identify an undercover officer, so, for the first time, the Bush White House is facing a criminal investigation. But the aroma of crime has wafted through the Bush White House for as long as he has resided there – for example, the crony ties to Enron CEO Ken Lay, who led the swindle of thousands of Enron workers and Enron stockholders. But the Bush-Cheney gang succeeded in tamping down the Enron scandal.

In this case, the CIA itself has demanded the criminal probe. Plame’s husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, has questioned whether Bush strategist Karl Rove at least condoned and may have actually leaked Plame’s name to right-wing commentator Robert Novak.

Plame was outed six days after Wilson criticized Bush in a New York Times op ed article for using forged documents in his State of the Union speech to bolster claims that Iraq was seeking to obtain uranium from Niger. The Vice President sent Wilson to Niger to examine those documents and he reported back that they were forgeries. Why, Wilson demanded, did Bush use those forgeries to justify his drive to war? Wilson has been on the airwaves and in the headlines ever since, hammering the administration for those “sixteen words” and for stabbing his wife in the back in a gangland style vendetta.

To put Ashcroft in charge of this probe is a classic example of putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Rather, a special prosecutor must be appointed with broad powers to investigate not only the outing of Plame, but also the full story of the lies Bush used to stampede the nation into a needless, bloody war.

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