RIP Nelson Mandela. The World Will Long Remember
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I biked home last night, took a quick swim, then turned on Democracy Now. As I sorted laundry, I listened to Amy Goodman interview the presumptive Green Party presidential nominee, Dr Jill Stein, and her veep nominee, Cheri Honkola. In the first interview Goodman asked Dr Stein what she would do after elected, and she spoke about a Green New Deal and Medicare for All. "But how's she going to get Congress to approve anything? That's what I'd ask her." I thought. She also felt that the ACA, "basically pits the very poor against the near poor."
At the end of the second interview, Goodman said, "We’ve been speaking with Jill Stein, who’s the Green Party’s 2012 presumptive presidential nominee. The vote will take place tomorrow here in Baltimore, where the Green Party convention is underway." "What?" I thought. While local news told me that a detective had resigned after being caught stealing groceries, and that more speed cameras were being placed near school zones, they hadn't mentioned that the Green Party's National Nominating Convention was being held at the Holiday Inn near the Convention Center. Sheesh.
I tried registering for media credentials online, but got no response, so this morning I took the light rail in to attend the Saturday session, which was only $25. Just after 8:30, I was directed to Press Contact Starlene Rankin at the media credential desk. A fellow named Klaus found his yellow badge. After passing Allison Keyes of NPR right through, Starlene asked, "How do you spell that?," pulled up dagblog on her smartphone, and said, "OK, that looks real enough."
The crowd first struck me as looking like the peak oil crowd at ASPO. Lots of longish grey hair and ponytails. There was a small crowd wearing Minnesota green t-shirts. A lot of people smiled as they walked by, coming back from Dottie's snack bar with coffee. Someone announced that the press conference would be on the twelfth floor at 9 AM. I rode up the elevator with Press Contact Scott McLarty, who then announced to the few of us already there that the press conference was actually starting at 9:30. I walked across the low-ceilinged lobby towards a room with a lot more people. A man told me I probably wanted the other side, because this was a meeting of the International Chemical Workers. I asked if it was a trade group, and he told me a little about what they did and then said, "Good luck, brother," so I knew it was a union. Their meeting had baked goods, and ours didn't.
Back downstairs in the hallway a lightly bearded young man in a grey jacket was chatting up Connie, a young woman in grey suit. He was in advocacy somewhere. She was a lawyer, and had helped represent Occupy Columbus. After he wandered off, I asked her a few questions. She was a delegate and was already committed to Dr Stein. She liked Roseanne Barr, and thought she connected well with working people, but thought she hadn't showed up enough to establish herself as a real candidate. She said Occupy Columbus was almost silent now. I told her a bit about Occupy Baltimore, then headed back upstairs, thinking, "aren't most of us working people?"
I ran into Steve and Cathy, nominating delegates from Florida. They asked about dagblog. I told them we had a range of folk from moderate Dems sticking with Obama, to disgruntled Dems voting Romney in protest to anti-government types refusing to vote at all. "Romney as a protest vote?," said Cathy, "That's stupid." They liked Baltimore.
In the twelfth floor lobby with Klaus were Christian and Matthias, from SudDeutche Zeitung (literally South German Newspaper), who were interviewing Ben Manski, formerly of the Wisconsin Green Party and now Stein's campaign coordinator. Christian seemed to be asking most of the questions. As I came in, Manski was claiming that the US Green Party had its roots in the German Green Party, starting with some immigrants in Wisconsin. Answering another question, Manski said there was a great deal of racial diversity in the movement, particularly Native Americans. Christian asked if they actually thought they could win or were just sending a message. Manski said they were here to win, and Christian just smiled. Manski admitted they were up against long odds, but said that they had to start accumulating political force, rather than just setting a competing agenda.
Christian admitted that it was an old story, but asked about the idea that voting Green would cause a replay of Nader undercutting Gore. Manski felt that was a fraudulent argument perpetrated by the Democratic Party, that Pat Buchanan had also drawn away votes and that the Supreme Court had made the wrong decision. He thought it was a canard, and that Democrats act like they own their voters. Christian said they were from Munich, and asked where dagblog was from. A lot of people assumed dagblog was connected to a place.
As the press conference started, there were about 20 journos sitting and about ten or twelve camera persons standing behind us. McLarty announced that Roseanne Barr was a no-show. Ben Manski boasted that the Green Party was not dominated by corporate money, that he started as the sole campaign worker with $4,000 to spend, and that they were here to win. He introduced Dr Jill Stein, saying that she had twice bested Mitt Romney during the Mass Governor debates. Stein repeated much of what she had told Amy Goodman about the current government imposing austerity, about her Green New Deal, about halting climate change and making oil wars obsolete. She wants to enact a moratorium on foreclosures, to provide free higher education as was done with the GI bill, and to downsize the military. Cheri Honkola spoke about her advocacy for the poor, again echoing what she covered on Democracy Now, and mentioning her incredibly racially diverse extended family.
After Stein and Honkola sat down, McLarty asked for questions. No one raised hands, but he pointed at NPR's Keyes, who asked about the Green Party getting on the ballots in more states. Then McLarty pointed at Christian who asked his Nader Gore question again, and got the same answer. A black man in the front row asked how they were going to motivate the poor into voting, and Honkola stepped up to the mike. She said that they expected votes from the newly poor. She recounted getting a call to take in a family of five. Their water had been shut off, and welfare officials were prepared to take the children if no one with water took in the family.
Each time, as Stein or Honkola was answering a question, Manski was floating behind, waiting to add a few comments. I stopped trying to figure out the signals and simply raised my hand. Based on Manski's comment about corporate money, I asked whether the Green Party had accepted or would consider accepting contributions from an environmentally-responsible corporation, if say, Patagonia wanted to support them. Stein hurriedly said that they accepted no corporate contributions or PAC money, and that even if money was found to be from a high ranking company official it would be returned. Manski chimed in that corporations had offered money in the past, but that Patagonia had not.
Keyes asked about getting into the televised debates. Stein noted that, unlike the league of women Voters, the debates are run by the Commission on Presidential Debates which answers to the two major parties, not to the voters, and that they had to get to 15%. Someone asked about diversity, and Manski noted that the Green Party in some places has merged with remnants of Jesse Jackson's rainbow coalition. For example in DC they had worked together to stop redistricting.
After the press conference, I went to the main room and looked at people's t-shirts. Many were shades of green. Think Green, Live Green, Vote Green. One had a large green and yellow star dripping oil, with FUBP above. Whirlpool Commits Genocide. StopClimateChange.net. Occupy the Vote. A fellow told me he got his McLenin's tee (Vlad below golden arches) in Russia, then explained that the convention was arguing whether to discard a motion to change the platform's recommendation that apportionment of electoral college votes be based on the popular vote. It was hard to hear, and some people were calling out Mic Check! Arkansas was for it, so they voted three votes and two proxies Yes, then realized they meant, No. The Black Caucus, which seemed equal to a state delegation, was against it so they voted two votes and one proxy Yes. California was next, but someone claimed that the Black caucus only had two votes. Much of the morning session is on CSpan.
I decided to go to lunch. I walked to Light Street Cycles, told Penny about the convention and asked if she had any chain lube. She did, and it was even soy-based.
I returned about 3:30, and they were close to an official vote that would select Dr Stein. Cheri Honkola was waiting outside the hall with her son, his sitter and a campaign worker. She said she had spoken to larger crowds, but this seemed more important to her. After Stein's lead was deemed insuperable, Ben Manski gave a rousing speech about how far he had seen the Green Party come in thirty years. Then a party official asked for a vote of acclamation that Honkola be the VP candidate, which carried easily, though a few people were pointedly not applauding.
Even though she was reading from lined paper, Honkola gave a very moving acceptance speech. She spoke about having to move with her two kids out of their Minnesota apartment into her car, the car being totaled while parked, and being faced with the choice of occupying a vacant house or freezing. That led to her helping many others occupy otherwise vacant housing as well.
Stein spoke at length about the ideals of the Green Party, but first recounted her early dismay at having to practice largely through prescribing drugs. She likes to say that she is now practicing political medicine.
Manski's, Honkola's and Stein's speeches are on CSpan, starting at about 2:18.
It will be interesting to see how they run their campaign.
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in Why Martin Bashir's...Ramona
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