>> it is so nice to see sony people here tonight and to welcome our friend david swanson. i first met david swanson, it's got to get a couple, two to three years ago already and it's a guy in there. the south florida impeachment coalitions brought david swanson down to speak. they invited me to come down as well. and that's when i first met david swanson, and since then i've been lucky enough to
consider him a friend even though it's the only second time we've met in person. but he has been on my raeder show many times both on the old days and lightly on air america. which by the way just launched a new website today. air america.com. i am on live from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. so you can stream them. we still need a station here in south florida but at least you can stream and listen to it in podcast the next day. but were not here to talk about that. maybe another they will talk about getting good progress arroyo back in south florida again. i do not know how he had time to write this book. because this man is the busiest men i know. i refer to them on the air as my favorite activist vicky is to give my go to guy. when i need to know what protests are happening, where there is an action. people standing up to the powers that be, and for we the people. i know i can go to david swanson
and find a. is a cofounder of after downing street.org, of democrats.com and of course the blogs regulate also at david swanson.org. and i read, anytime i get an e-mail from david swanson, it's one of the first ones i open because i know there's good information there. this guy walks the walk. when he says that he means that he is in the thick of it all the time but i am thrilled to welcome her to south florida. give a warm welcome to david swanson. [applause] >> wonderful to see all these people in the bookstore. who says we're not a literate society in america? [laughter] >> this is the national homebase of progressive reader because nicole sander levin or. [applause] >> i want to thank everybody who is our event thank books and books and c-span, and marx radio
show and everybody who brought me here too, two and a half years ago. and everyone who made such a movement here for defending our constitution and the rule of law, and the need to hold everyone, even than the highest office to the rule of law. which had a lot to do i think with why a congressman by the name of robert wexler, the moans for the little because today congressman wexler announced he is resigning. he is retiring and is moving on to a career as the present of a think tank in washington. he has been a congressman who, like most congressmen, i disagreed with on most things, yet he has done remarkable things. he has been willing not only to challenge his party's leadership, which is almost unheard of, but to challenge the chairman of the committee on which he serves.
which is as far as i know absolutely unheard of, except for when congressman wexler said the john conyers publicly and got his colleagues on board and had thousands and hundreds of thousands of members of the public sign on and said congressman conyers, we've got to look at this thing called the constitution. would have to hold impeachment hearings for dick cheney. [applause] >> and there is a bill sitting in the house of representatives right now introduced by congresswoman barbara lee and congresswoman wexler that says we need to have commission to look at the crimes and abuses of power over the past eight years. and this is a select committee from the house you don't need this in and you don't need to present you just need a house. if we can't get the house to pass such a thing because they want to look for or whatever it is, then we are lost there can congressman wexler is a leader on that. there is a whip list by which i
made a public listing of those making a commitment on something, not dick cheney's list or something. and to go to fire dog lake.com and they have a list of congressmen all over the country who have said i will vote no on a health care bill unless it includes at least a token in the direction of some redeeming feature in these horrible horrible pieces of legislation. a serious public option. an immediate national public option. [applause] >> and there is one member of floors designation was there and that is congressman wexler. is a few months left. i have some ideas but i'm sure you have some ideas maybe he will be willing to stick his neck out again for as in the next few months. lord knows we have got some things that we need to see don. i was at the white house last
monday, a lot of us were, suggesting that maybe a night in afghanistan was going to be enough. and for which we went to jail. someone went up to a congressman, two policemen at the white house fence and asked for directions to where is the military-industrial complex. [laughter] >> and a garter looking, have you heard of that? and of course it's in the white house. it's in every building around it. it's in our own bodies. it's everywhere. is everywhere. we have to get rid of it if were going to survive. i would like to see this country last for a while but i would like to see some years, some decades, since interest out ahead of us. writes? and if it does, we're going to have a lot more president. president to have been born yet. and how those presidents behave
is going to be determined primary by what they are permitted to do. which means that despite all of the disasters behavior of bush and cheney, all of the people who died in wars and through their neglect, all of the things that went wrong over the past eight years, the biggest result of the co- presidency is what powers they leave behind for all of the future president. and that is going to be the biggest result of barack obama's presidency. for better or worse. whether he leaves all of those powers there or doesn't. or whether the congress leaves all of those powers there or doesn't. that is going to be the legacy of these years, for better or worse. who knows what article one of our constitution is about? shouted out if you know, just one word. thank you very much.
it takes the children, the young people to tell us. i spoke at a university last night and not a single college student could tell me. someone thought it was free speech. article one takes up 60 percent of our constitution. it is about the congress. it is the first branch of our government that it is getting a long laundry list of every single power hour founders could imagine. they gave it to congress. powers have been taken from the congress from the course, from the states state, from the people. and some are now being abused less than they were in the past eight years. summer being abused more. every single one is being left in place, if not augmented, and every single one is being cemented more firmly in place in a way that one administration alone could never do. and you're not going to love every future president.
you're not. you're going to disagree with some of them dramatically. indie media is not interested in is that there is some talk about sars. this talk about how we really have to renew the patriot act, even though we used to not like it. and congress as possible is less interested. you ask a student, you ask, you probably will never having learned about three branches. we now have two parties. we now have two institutions of our government that are the two parties. we no longer have three branches. and at any given time, about half the members of congress are loyal to the guy who was supposed to execute the will of congress. he is the leader of their party. and the other half are loyal to the leader of their party and congress whose primary concern is making sure that the next president belongs to their party. so there are some useful things in congress.
there's a bill that would impose at least some judicial checks on state secrets claims, that is you can't anybody for that. it is a state secret. there is a bill that would limit the use of signing statements, design doesn't have a statement i'm not going to obey this part of the bill. there is a bill that would expand the gang of eight so that more than eight congress members get to know a little something about what our government is doing. these are not priorities. these are not seeking a head. and the idea of checking the executive branch, your number about checks and balances, right? it is almost scandalous in washington to mention. the two chief tools that congress can use to check the other branches are impeachment and subpoenas. we did impeach a judge this year for groping people. and i'm not a fan of groping people. [laughter]
>> but there is a judge with a lifetime appointment out on the west coast, an appeals court judge by the name of jay bybee, go to impede you bybee.org and read all about him. his name is at the bottom of secret memos that were treated as law where the president said write me a memo that says i can torture this guy. write me a memo that says i can torture this guy. custom-built individual loss for how individuals could be tortured. and write me a minute as i can torture anybody. as a matter of fact, write me a memo that says president can launch a war. these memos are treated as laws. jay bybee's name is at the bottom. he is sitting there as a judge and you go to capitol hill and ask why can't you impeach him? doesn't it compare to groping people and they would so you know. fox news would not like it. we would be accused of going
after a conservative judge. nevermind that he legalized torture. is a member of the executive branch. is a conservative. is not involved. we can't have impeachment. and in april when some of these memos came out, senator leahy, chairman of the senate judicial committee said judge bybee, wittig inconvenience you anyway to ,-comcome and talk to us, it's in washington. if not, sir, got the golf that they. i will take a rain check. okay. didn't mean. bin btw. was just asking. and that is that. during the last congress that ended last year, dozens of subpoenas simply ignore. dick cheney, condoleezza rice, not inclined. i have to do something else. okay. or will ask the justice department to enforce, and when they don't we will take into court. that will drag it out more. but we won't you come in and talk to us.
and every committee on either side of the hill has the undisputed power to send the capitol police to literally hold in contempt anyone who does not show up and testify to the satisfaction of the committee, which is more than i cannot recall, sir. i do not recall. they have to actually show up and satisfy the committee, or be held in contempt, in jail, on capitol hill. and our congress is terrified. they don't issue subpoenas know. you did have the white house counsel negotiate between the first branch of our government and karl rove, a common criminal and a fox news pundit. adult me to be redundant. [laughter] >> who partially complied with the subpoena. and then they post it later after the lawyers. outrageous. and now they don't, they haven't
issued any subpoenas because they know that this justice department won't enforce them anymore than the last one and they are terrified of enforcing it themselves. so they have no powers. who knows what it here to contempt means? raise your hand. it's not the feeling in your stomach when dick cheney comes on television. [laughter] >> two people may be. this means that congress has the inherent power to preserve its existence through contempt citations, through the capitol police. through jail cells on capitol hill. tell your congress member about it. they may not have heard it. so the powers that have been consolidated in the white house, a quick overview i would say, include power to make laws, the power to make wars, the power to spend money, the power to make treaties without the senate, the
power to grant immunity for crimes, the power to operate in secrecy, and the power to spy without warrants, the power to detain without charges, and torture. for the high life. the power to make laws did we make laws by signing statements. we make laws with executive orders. we make laws that dictate to congress what laws they should make an congressman said please, please, tell us. rahm emanuel is at the senator to at the invitation of the senate and what laws to make. we make laws with secret memos, with jay bybee's memo's. and we have a new administration coming in and say, we will give him your date to the lord who wrote the memos and of course, bills at the top, president and vice president who ordered these things done and no go on television and confess to torture. is torture a crime in this country, in our code? no, it used to be. it is a crime in this country,
and during that whole eight-year charade, can the president undo that with a statement, should they get an exception for the cia? torture was a film in all instances, any acts of complicity in torture throughout that whole charade. ronald reagan signed against torture. it became a felony when bill clinton was president. and so the current administration said were going to get immunity to all of these people. what we're going to do is consider the possibility of considering the possibility of prosecuting some low ranking bad apples who strayed from the illegal policy in the secret memos. it is a very dangerous idea because that means a president, any future president can tell a lawyer, write me a secret memo that says this crime is legal and it is now legal. if you can think of any power that doesn't give a president,
you are smarter than i am. it looks like apple in power and we know what that does. we have the power of war. president bush did not have wars declared that he had vague authorizations that he did not comply with the terms that he submitted like to congress, and the authorizations lost all relevant over a period of years to the ongoing wars, and we have mercenaries fighting our wars out of congressional oversight, out of the rule of law. and we now have more troops in the field than we ever had when bush and cheney were president. we now have a larger military budget and we have our empire of bases expanding into more nations. the power to spend money, congress is supposed to raise and spend every dime. nobody else. bush spent money to invade iraq before he got any authorization whatsoever with money that had been appropriated for elsewhere.
he gave himself the right to move monies into secret budgets. he increased the size of the massive secret budgets that president control to begin with, and he gave our grandchildren's underpay the wall street bankers and the new administration did the same, and congress isn't even allowed to know who gets the money. there's a bill setting in congress was already a majority in cosponsors but all they have to do is bring it up for a vote and it passes. that would let congress see what the federal reserve does. not control it. god forbid, jesse what it does. and the speaker of the house will not bring it up for a vote. it is about half an half, republican and democratic cosponsor figure recall overnighters of americans oppose the bank bailout. last week the day after we went to the white house and asked the president to maybe think about
not having a nice year in afghanistan, the leaders of the two parties, went to a white house and said mr. president, this is according to senator reid's account, you want to escalate a war, escalate war. if you don't, don't it you have a blank check. whatever monies you need, you can count on us. that's unconstitutional. that's unconstitutional. to his remarkable, amazing credit, the chairman of the house appropriations committee, david opie, who for years now has maintained that he is absolutely helpless put out a statement that said as an appropriator, which he capitalized, i'm going to have to think very hard about whether we should fund an escalation of a war that doesn't make a bit of sense. he was talking now about support the troops is something very different, as having some concern what you send them off to kill and die without a good
reason and a good plan. congressman opie should be encouraged to put his actions with his mouth now is an other congressmen should be joining you. nice gesture doesn't do a bit of good because if you pass it you have to pass it to dissent and get the president to sign it, but it helps to build a list of members who will vote no on funding bills, for which you only need the house. it doesn't matter what the senate or the president didn't do. and that's the case with bad health care bills as well. so what we actually need from our congress members on that point is a commitment to vote no on any bill that would escalate anything in afghanistan or a continuation. and that means a bill that has katrina relief in it, has bettered education in it, that
has hate crimes in account that has the weekends for children in the. they can take all that out and pass it separately. it is a solid commitment to vote no. the power to make treaties, president bush made a treaty with the occupied government of iraq, a puppet government, for three more years of war in iraq. there's a power to make war put into a tree and a treaty made without the senate. senator named biden, i don't know what's become of him, but he introduced a bill and said we're not going to fund the eye at the patient of iraq unless the senate gets to vote a treaty. a senator named obama was talking the same way. now they rely on this treaty as the only legal fig leaf for the illegal occupation of iraq, and yet our top generals openly admit that they will violate the basic demands of the treaty, including to be out by the end of 2011. and people who thought that this treaty was good as i think should sit down and have a
conversation with some native americans about treaties. [laughter] >> because of congress tom if congress wasn't asked in the first place, what power do they have to say you've got to comply with its? you've got to make another treaty. the power to pardon crimes come a lot of us were concerned that president bush might pardon people for crimes he told them to commit, congress mirrors made a lot of against it, we made a lot of public against it. dick cheney admits that he was privately mandated, and president bush didn't do it, for whatever reason. maybe we get some of the credit. we don't know but they never give us the credit. but even congressman adler, even the fiercest component of this claim the president couldn't do it if you want to get absolutely outrageous interpretation of the constitution that need to be corrected. but what bush did do and what
president obama is doing is argued the worst. they are giving immunity to people without naming them and without letting us see the details of their crimes. and congress helped out with the military commissions act, and so forth are that has to be stopped. we have these claims of state secrets. when bush and cheney were rounded with a discord case can't have this piece of information does it as a state secret, national teacher to. nobody gets to overrule that. president obama said justice department takes it further. they say we're going to shut down this entire case by saying state secrets. which they are doing in several cases to protect torturers, to protect those who spied without warrants. they are now fighting a ruling that would reveal the transcript of dick cheney's testimony, interview with the fbi on his seeking of the identity of a cia
agent. and we get these wonderful proposals. we are only going to use the state secret claims after our lawyers carefully review. and we're only going, we're now going to deal, the white house visitor logs in who came to visit us, except those ones that are already registered that you want to see what the health care executives. going four for going to let you see them unless we think national security says otherwise. and were only going to use final stay was to rewrite laws if we really, really have to. and we celebrate these reforms and activist groups send out the congratulatory e-mails, and none of them transfer a bit of power to any branch of the date the executive, meaning that we're dependent on the goodwill of the executive. and what do you think we had at the moment or not, i'm not sure how we'll have it for the next century. would have the department of
justice now going to ask dreaming to keep secrets. to protect torturers, threatening the government of great britain, cutting off any intelligence sharing if they reveal anything about torture, claiming that phone companies when it comes to protecting secrets from the public, are a part of the executive branch of our government here outrageous plans. why would someone keep such secrets on behalf of the other team? doesn't make any sense. unless one team is the people with all the power and the other team is all of us. then it starts to make a little bit of sense. and the power to torture, this is the one that we think we have sat behind us, without prosecuting any of the torturers, without taking any steps to deter torture going forward. and yet, the director of the
cia, leon panetta, and david azariah, an adviser to the president have both made crystal clear, televised interviews, and panetta's case testimony, before confirmation hearing, that the president maintains the power to torture. he is just choosing not to use it at the moment. now if torture is a policy choice and the democrats are going to torture except they are going to rendition people to other countries to have tortured, then the solution is we will vote for the democrats because the republicans are with torture. then we will deter torture by prosecuting the torturers. which is arguably more reliable and arguably goes further to maintaining the rule of law and the idea that we can't throw out other laws that we might want to throw out. habeas corpus, all right, the one right in the constitution
before you get to the bill of rights, the one that alberto gonzales went and testified that the constitution says you can't take it away but it doesn't say you had it to begin with. the right not to be detained, we've had this for 800 years. we've expanded the portion of the population that had it, some people have had it for 800 years pick the right not to be detained without charge, without trial. president obama stands in front of the united states constitution in the national archives and says we're going, we're going to formalize a system of preventive system. were going to hold people without charge for ever. habeas corpus is a suicide prevention line. that's all it is. these people have killed themselves in guantánamo and the people who are being forced fed are doing that because they have been locked up and never told what they are charged with,
can't figure out what they did, have never been able to talk with a lawyer or their families, they are just locked up indefinitely. that's torture even when he don't work for them. that's what you need a habeas corpus for. and if you have two administrations in a row, throw it out. the pattern of the supreme court is to begin treating that now as long. our current president is a much nicer guy than most of our congress members. we can imagine hanging out with them and those of our congress members were not very fond of, but for 225 years, it's been almost impossible to influence a president. this is a president who last week announced after congress told him, do what you want on the war, he announced i was going to ignore you guys anyway. and i'm going to ignore the american public and do what's right for the nation.
thank you for ignoring us, mr. president. politicians don't say things that they don't think people are going to like. people think it's good to stand by your principles and ignore up involves, even though opinion polls measure where the public is. it is not a corrupting force like money or the media. the public, it is the essence of democracy. the president takes, any president, i'm not talking about the current one. in a president takes 10 times the money of the senator, is the focus of the corrupt media day and night, can ignore whole regions of the country, isn't up against for years. you run into these guys called the secret service. you cannot oppose the president. i would in fact recommend trying to go a week without thinking about the president. i think would be a very healthy experiment. and it's almost impossible to include senators. the money, the size of the areas they represent with the large
states. but house numbers, whether you like them or not, you've got a chance. and influencing them, not a fair chance, not a level field that you have the media, the money, you have the gerrymandering. you have the ballot access rules. but you have a chance. so i say go after them. go talk to them. politely. talk to them less politely. flood them with e-mails and faxes and phone calls. go after them with the local media. make your opinions known simply. not shouting threats, but make your opinions known. and a run primary challenges against them. run general challenges against them. and go to their offices and sit down. the people standing out here, can't find a seat in this room. and the rest of you should go to your congress member's office and sit down for a long time. make up for having us stand here. sit down and don't leave until
they bring opinion polls from her district, and don't leave until they are willing to represent the majority of their constituents with a commitment that you can go back and see did they do it, yes or no. you don't want to know what's in the heart of hearts that you don't know if they will have dinner with you but you don't want to know if they like you. you want to know will they commit to voting no for more money, if their constituents are opposed to the war and they themselves claim to be opposed to while they are funding it. if they will vote no on bad health bills and yet so good with. you want commitments. and if you go there about health care, cough a lot. [laughter] >> now i'm not suggesting to anybody i'm not suggesting to anybody that we voted wrong last november. i live in virginia, which voted for the last races of the two candidates for the first time in
history, and it was a black man. this is good for projective. but we behaved as if it was a goat. i will grant you, we had a two in 2000, we headed to a 2004, but in 2008 we had an election and following an election you don't sit at home and wait to see what happens. you have made a deal and you are half of the deal is exactly what barack obama asked for. and that is to get out there and make them do it. and i don't mean make the president do it. the low-hanging fruit, is what's left of our representatives is to make your representatives in the house do it. and that means block bad bills, that means subpoenas, that means begin impeachment proceedings and that means put forward good built at the house doesn't always have to go second. the senate doesn't always have to go first. the house can push the senate. the senate has been worse than the house for over two
centuries. the house passed bills against slavery at least eight times. the senate thought a war might be a better idea. we are in a situation where we are given to one party that has any chance of representing us huge majorities in both houses plus the white house, and they are not doing anything with it. they are not doing anything with it. yesterday, they achieve one of their major goals of the health care fight. they got a republican to back their bill because now it is bipartisan. now they can blame the republicans. for how stinking bad this bill is. and at the same time almost contradictorily communicated the idea that it's a republicans call for filibuster. i received at least 20000 e-mails saying if we have 60 senators, peace, harmony and joy would rule the planet and they have got it. they have got a pic i know joe lieberman, i know they're
replacing kennedy but the republicans haven't said they are going to filibuster. and there's at least one democrat seagrave take telling how we telling harry reid. everybody is worse than the other one. but i want my congressmen were to represent his or her constituents, not the leader of the party, no matter which party it is. first, second, third, fourth party. i want representation of my congressmen was elected by less than one percentage point, throughout probably the worst congressmen. a big step forward, but when it comes to the tight votes, when it comes to the war slashed boat this past june and his constituents want one thing, and the party leaders and the white house, the secretary and the
generals want something else. and which way do you think he goes? most of the corruption of the party, and is related to money. so you clean up the money, you clean that up to. you don't necessarily have to get real parties, but these are people threatening challenges, threatening chairmanships, threatening votes, threatening aramark, promising weapons factory, for no apparent reason, to put a congressmen on the front page. and this goes against representation of constituents. and i want to wrap up and let you guys say a few words, but i want to address the despair that is sort of sweeping part of the country because a lot of people expected on election to fix everything even though it never has before, and then got upset that it didn't. some of us skipped that whole cycle, but now people are sort of getting out of this and i think we should all get out of it. and at the same time realize
that things are not as bad as we think. that we are not helpless. that we are winning a lot of victories and we don't hear about on television or the newspapers because they don't tell us about the victories. when alberto gonzales quit and left and fled down, it's because they random congressmen, no particular leader, put in a $0.01 bill of the house judiciary committee shall consider whether alberto comes out has committed offenses. dozen members signing on, signing on. equipped and leads. have a congress member, congressman wexler, any congress never introduces that bill, one sends with the word jay bybee in there instead of alberto gonzales, they become a hero overnight. alan grayson starts making them for money. they get flooded with support and every store the first branch
of our government which begins to exist again. a couple weeks ago, the army announced they're not going to put these killing the new games real weapons toward halls and shopping malls to teaching 13 euros that it's fun to kill muslims. they didn't say that because it has been protested so effectively by peace activist that it's hurting them. the president said he's not going to put a radar base in the czech republic. everybody said that's because russia doesn't want it. nobody mentioned that a handful of activist in the czech republic got active, who went on hunger strikes, who passed local resolution that took 130 meters to the capital and passed the bill and overthrew a government made it impossible to put a base there. a friend of mine who is a veteran of the iraq war who was just in japan talking with their new parliament, a good chunk of which was thrown out because they actually listen to people, and on the way back, from japan,
learned that they had done as with their board and had pulled out all contributions of the occupation of afghanistan. we are never going to have a day when they tell us here's the day when you stop an attack on iran. we have stop an attack and iran every day of the year. on the cover of newsweek this week, nuclear explosion, or words after iran gets the bomb. the same fear mongering, the same lies, the same type, the same baseless claims that took us into iraq, be afraid, be afraid. guess what? almost all americans are saying no, we don't want to be afraid this time. we did that. we expose the lies about iraq, and the lies about iran are not getting anywhere. and we have turned this nation against wars between a heavy majority against the war in afghanistan that we are right
online and win a majority against escalating it. we did that and we didn't have that before the last election. so we don't want politicians who say i will stand by what i said before the last election. we want people who represent who we are right now. and so we are actually more successful than we know, you look at opinion polls and we are huge majorities on all kinds of issues where would think we are some sort of leftist group because our television tells us that all the time. we have to realize our strength, but when you come right down to it, why should it have to look easy to get involved in this? why should success had to be right over the next ridge to fight for? people fought to end slavery for generations, worked their entire lives, died, didn't see any success to help end slavery. people were to get women the right to vote who never saw women vote. who are chiefly responsible for getting women the right to vote
here i have no sympathy for the idea that you can't fight for justice because it looks hard. i like this and this has led to save our pessimism for better times. [applause] >> i just want to read one quick quote out of this book, and then i want to have discussions and questions. and this is from a guy named stone. the only kinds of fights worth fighting are those who are going to lose because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins. in order for somebody to win an important major fight, 100 euros, a lot of other people got to be willing for the sheer fun and joy of it to go right ahead and fight, knowing you're going to lose. you mustn't feel like a martyr. you've got to enjoy it. thanks for coming out.
[applause] >> so let's take as many questions as possible, which means relatively short questions, and i will try to give relatively short answers. so let's start to my left which makes political sense. [laughter] >> you were talking about undoing the past, why did you give it such a break in his title? talking about morning in america, why daybreak, or something of that nature? why go back to reagan in your title? >> i certainly didn't intend to, and this is the first time it has come up. i recognize that you think i did. i haven't heard that from anybody else but maybe i'll have to do a survey and see how many people thought of reagan, did you know, reagan was a hell of a corporate salesman before he became a politician.
but if we're going to allow the sunrise to belong to a dead corporate salesman, you know, i don't think that's fair. as a matter of fact, i stole the title from a book i liked. the translation of the german title. but he wrote the first book called "daybreak" that i ever read and i like it. and i thought that, you do, not to me people would think of friedrich. i didn't think they would think of ronald reagan, but i did not intend to. >> i have one thing that i am really disgusted with. barack obama, and many things. and i voted for him of course. the u.s. attorneys the fact that he has to replace them, i thought typically president when they're coming and and will ask for the resignation immediately. and i'm concerned that all these u.s. attorneys are still in
place, especially governor singleton. but anyway, i don't know if there's anything that we can do, that grassroots about that. and why do you think he is going with that? >> well, i think it's useful to lobby the department of justice, and we've all been doing it to try to expand this prosecution and to try to change some of these policies that you're bringing up, and a lot of other things. but we don't elect them. they don't answer to us but we can't cut off their funding. we can't challenge them in many ways that we can challenge our members in the house, who could go after the department of justice and start doing the department of justice's job for it and start bringing in these u.s. attorneys and grilling them. and i think, you know, that's not an easy solution but i think it is more likely than influencing the department of justice.
you know, it's not always difficult to replace all the u.s. attorneys immediately but there is nothing typical about this. these are people who were hired for political reasons. there were people fired for political reasons that there were political prosecutions but we have political prisoners. the former governor of alabama is facing trumped up charges and perhaps the rest of his life in prison. paul minor perhaps one of the largest financial donors to the democratic party in prison on trumped up charges, not permitted to visit his wife when she dies, sitting there writing in prison. and the democrats are in power and will not lift a finger for him. does this encourage other people to give money to the democratic party? it wouldn't. it wouldn't be. so there's always this question of why one party fights any other party runs and hides. it's something you have to push back against. i. .
to fight against the idea of corporate free speech. we think people should have free speech and corporations have human rights to begin with and speech being spending money to begin with, and if it works out that we can make impeaching the people responsible for that outrage part of the campaign, i certainly would be all for it. yes, right here. i'll try to get over here. >> i would like to know why you're so optimistic, because honestly, i'm cuban, i came when i was 7, i'm 56 years old.
i lost one country, i don't want to lose another one and honestly, after watching capitalism, a love story, michael moore's movie and seeing the historical perspective, it brought me back to my childhood. this was a great country. when i was a little kid, you always expected your life to be better than your parents and you always expected things to be better and all we're seeing is things are getting tougher and tougher, the middle class is losing ground, we're losing ground on all sides, politically, economically, everything is getting worse, so i want to know, what makes you think that there is a chance here to get things in another direction. >> well, there's a few answers. one is that you know, there have actually been medical studies that show that protesting and demonstrating and working for social justice with a group of people like you wonderful people, it's actually good for your health.
the solidarity -- i'm not kidding. another possible answer, which is also honest, is that i fundamentally don't care whether there's a chance or not, whether it's likely to succeed or not, i don't see how we have any moral choice about it. right? are we -- are we going to go -- [applause] >> if this species is going to go down, i think it should go down fighting. was there anybody on this side of the room? yes, way back there. >> i think if you took a poll in this room, you could find that a number of people here would agree on certain issues, such as the people who write the eastern health care and a couple of these judges should be gone and we shouldn't be fighting these wars over resources under the ground in somebody else's country and so forth and so on. the problem is, we don't have at
in moment, any political organization that we can vote for, no matter how much money and effort we do knocking on doors, we don't have a political party that has this set of values, at least not any major party, and we've been betrayed already by the drug companies, the insurance companies, and i would like to make the case we've even been betrayed by both political parties in this country. each of them had their constituency that they helped or betrayed and you may recall, i back a third party and until we finally understand we have to give up on the people who have been betraying us time and time again. 17 years ago the democrats led us down the path of no health care and now here we are 17 years later, we have mandatory health care to give mandatory money to the health insurance companies. one of the things you said, we have to run people in the primaries and in the general election. i think until we start threatening other parties by running candidates from other
parties, in my case, the green party, in a general election. >> no. >> can you finish quickly, please. >> we he need to do something, if we keep knocking on doors and calling senators if they're the only people that fund them. we can't get anywhere. >> i think i've got the thrust of it. i respect your opinion and i agree for 45 minutes that everything is awful and disgusting and redevelopmentingly bad but the predicts of doom and whomlessness are no more useful to me than the predictions of immediate success and glory. i'm just not interested in them. i agree with you that the parties are a force of corruption within our system, but i'm not convinced that taking a bad thing and
multiplying it is the only solution. i'm not sure that taking two parties and creating three or four or five of them is the solution. but opening up the access rules so two parties don't have a lock on who can get on the ballot, doing away with the partisan and the bipartisan jerry meandering, so we open it up, so someone with a different party that has a completely different point of view has a chance. all of the changes i want are the same changes that an advocate for a third party wants, so there's no reason we can't cooperate on those things. the sad fact is that in most districts today, a third party is not a credible threat to anybody. but if you can run a candidate in a democratic primary, you should do it. if you can run a candidate in a
third party, you should do it, and if you can succeed in running an independent candidate, who's not part of any party, you husband do it, and again, my ideal is we get to a party where primarily our representatives answer to us, their constituents, rather than the leader of any party. were there some more? yes, in the very back. >> i'm the coordinator for progressive democrats of america. >> ok. >> this is one of our board members, and we have an inside-outside strategy, we work with the congressional progressive caucus in congress and with our local communities, pressuring our members of congress for the positions we believe in. and part of our inside strategy is that we encourage all our members to keep calling their members of congress on the issues that they care about.
and i find the thing that i get the most push back from our members on is the fact that they're calling up, for instance, my congressman, congressman meeks, his staff appear to have been instructed never to tell a constituent how he plans to vote on any issue, never to give anything away whatsoever, and this almost seems like a deliberate strategy. to discourage people from calling because after someone has called six or seven times in support of h.r.6076, the bill for medicare, and they say yes, i'll pass on your message, people start to get discouraged. what could i say to my pda
members who get discouraged and feel like they're wasting their time making call after call after call to mile an hour members of congress. >> i would say, first of all, i've sat if a lot of congressional offices in washington and watched the phone ring and in every case, maybe because i was sitting there, but in every case, they really do write down and keep track and report how many people called for this position, how many people called for that position. they actually are very interested in that. i'm not saying they're not trying to discourage it. they probably are. they're particular of the phone ringing, it's very boring for them, they have other things they want to work on, they're overworked, underpaid staffers. well, some of them are overpaid, but they really do pay attention. that doesn't mean that going and getting a meeting isn't more effective, and that doesn't mean that in a matter of life and death, when you've tried every polite approach for many months and got no respect, no
satisfaction whatsoever, it isn't appropriate to start picketing and protesting and disrupting and non-violently resisting, and making it more difficult for these people to do their daily work while ignoring their constituents. than it is for them to start ignoring the corrupting influences in washington and i applaud the work that pda does. pda, like democrats.com, which i also work with, has got a party name in its organizational name, and yet, is more willing to stand for an issue when the party line goes the other way, than almost every other activist group in washington, many of which go to our members in congress and rally and say what do you want us to do. this is astro tour of course without the corporate funding, this is a reversal of the
relationship and pd as has been admirable. pda's demand today was that you fax and e-mail and say yes, we want to vote yes on the weiner amendment and cue 16 itch amendment and this means anthony weiner he's amendment that would give us medicare for all, rather than all of this other nonsense in these bills and dennis kucinich's amendments, which would let states do single payer. we're ready to let states opt out of the public option, why not let states opt into the solution that the rest of the industrialized world has already found, but if there's not a huge uproar, there's going to unceremoniously strip that out and not even have a vote on it. so that is a very useful piece of information that pda and many other groups are pushing out there.
we're hitting up against time limits, but let's take a few more questions. >> we take heed of the comment you made about the greatest fight is the one that's worth losing, because our representation here is both -- [inaudible] we have to be prepared to lose but we'll keep fighting and the second thing is at the risk of going to the far side here, do you think that there's threats against politicians and -- well, congressmen and family lives? >> well, there are public threats against the president's life, and there are -- but to cause like aside from the lobbying pressure, do you think there's things going on that we're not aware of that because of the corporatecy. >> we certainly learned recently that there were with congresswoman jane harmon that she was effectively being black mailed. there are lots of suspicions
that congress members are being black mailed, because it's so hard to figure out why else they behave the way they do, but unless you can prove it, you can't prove it. but you know, these right wing groups that are so overrepresented on television, that are -- that should not have that respect as a major force in our country, minority tea bagger population, they have to be watched. they are very dangerous, and they are openly making threats against the president's life and other lives. and that's -- that's serious. we had a president in george w. bush, who, according to the reports of congress members, threatened martial law, thread end martial law in the nation if we didn't pass the banker bailout immediately. now, that's not exactly a threat on a congress member's life, but
it's a serious threat. and so so there are things like that that go on. ok. >> i want to hear more about the coalition, i'm really concerned about the citizens united supreme court case that will really do away with the corporate limits on campaign contributions and it's going to blow everything out of the water. i've been on this quest for campaign finance reform, i had a great interview the other night with marcy captor who has a number of women's floating with one co-sponsor. i want to hear more about the coalition because i think this is an issue that everybody needs to be involved in. >> there are a lot of groups that have picked up this issue and will seize that moment to work on the issue, but i've been in discussions with with a number of groups that are trying to form coalitions and trying to come to some agreement on what are the ideal constitutional amendments to ultimately fight for and what legislative steps to fight for in the meantime socks that we he can be ready and have the internet tools
ready and the memberships ready to seize that moment when there's an uproar over it, to build the power that might be able to fight for some months to push back against it. i think it's going to be a teaching moment for people who don't know the powers that corporate -- the rights, the human rights that corporations have been given. i think, you know, it's not that you want something to get worse so that you can fight back, but with it does, you have that opportunity to fight back. so i don't want to go through a list of organizations who are considering working with each other, but there will be a major public push from at least one big coalition if this happens. yes, way over here. >> right now, my girlfriend's grandson, he's 18 years old, he's halfway joining the reserves, which means he could go to high rack, and one of the
things that troubles memos about speaker pelosi, about president's obama's failure to correct problems, like speaker nancy pelosi, they get elected, they could stop the funding for the war in iraq. i happen to support the war in afghanistan. osama bin laden killed us, as far as i'm concerned, happy to go kill him, but when it comes to iraq, let me finish, when it comes to iraq, when it comes to iraq, i can't seeing sending an 18-year-old boy over to kill people conceivably for oil, or be killed, it's an unfair choice, an i think, don't join, even though i respect our armed forces, we need a national defense, but my god, i'm going to send my girlfriend's 18-year-old boy to fight a corrupt war or be killed himself, no. so here's my question. why is that nancy pelosi, an i'm not saying the answer, but you know it better than i do, why do
you think speaker pelosi would not hold up the finding for the iraq war. why do you think president obama let's this terrible president be set where any of your children join the armed forces they may be sent to a bad war, to either kill or be killed? why do you think they do nothing, or they don't do enough? >> well, i'm not going to talk about a bad war, because i'm not going to suggest there are good wars, but in january of 2007 -- [applause] >> in january of 2007, rahm emanuel gave an interview to the "washington post" where he essentially said, we're not going to mess with anything, we're not going to risk having the right wing media not like us or anybody get offended. what we're going to do is keep the wars going and keep bush and can around and we're going to run against all of those in 2008 and so we're going to put up a pretense of opposing things for two years, we're going to put up
bills that we know are going to be reeve toed and talk about how great they are and get them vetoed. we're going to hold hearings on impeachable offenses and go home and have dinner. we'll talk about opposing wars by funding them and put good things in there that you can't vote against, because then we're going to run against the wars and the -- and bush and cheney in 2008. they're going to run against bush and cheney in 2010. you know, this is -- they love having things to run against. we have to get rid of the mercenaries, we have to get rid of much of the standing army, we have to get rid of the idea that you can take the state militias, the national guard and send them off on wars of empire. we have to get to the point where you have to have a draft, and you have a fair draft, which men means you have no wars, and you have a volunteer military, without a court system, separate from our court system, a
military in which you can say no to an illegal war and not participate, as you can in some militaries, and a military that you can unionize, that can be democratic within a democracy. which is extremely far from this imperial military that we've got right now. but we also have to get rid of things that are deep in the bottom of our brains. like the idea that if somebody killed somebody, it's ok to go kill the first guy. if you don't -- [applause] >> if you don't have revenge in your being, then you never could have been taken into the war in iraq, so when we say we have to prosecute the war makers, that's to deter the next one. that's not to get revenge against people we don't like. we have to rid ourselves of that sort of thinking. let's take one more question, because we're low on time and
then let's talk informally. [inaudible] >> how come you're sitting at the table with -- [inaudible] how come here in florida, we are given -- why is this going to happen in the next election where folks are already saying that we are going to have the same thing that happened to bill clinton and obama and going to lose the congress, when they are ready to do exactly what happened in the past and we haven't done anything to fix it. >> yeah. and it's gotten worse and more consolidated and now one corporation controls the vast majority of our election systems and it has to be changed. and we have to have -- ideally, we have to have something that congressman jesse jackson jr. has been pushing for for years and that is the individual right
to vote in hour constitution, which we don't have. we have the right to not have women or african-americans discriminated against, but if the white guys don't have a verifiable right to vote either, what value is that. if you have an individual right to vote, you can have everybody registered to vote, just like they're registered to go and kill and die in the military, when they turn 18, and you get rid of this busy work of registering people to vote, that people then think of as activism and get on to the real act i havism and you have -- activism and you have paper ballots that are hand counted in front of a variety of witnesses and announced at the polling place and totaled regionally, because otherwise, we don't know who we're voting for, and it doesn't mean stay home. it means get out and vote in bigger numbers, it means get out and do exit polling, it means get out and fight voter
suppression, and polling places that are moved and locked down and all of the variety of tricks, because it's not just in the counting. but fundamentally, we have to have that change and we can start fighting for it nationally and ideally, we're going to take this wonderful document that was cutting edge two centuries ago that they expected us to change frequently that we barely tweaked, that lags behind an array of international treaties, lags behind constitutions across the globe, we have a couple dozen amendments and two of them are to get rid of alcohol and bring it back. it's absolutely disgraceful. we have to come up with the power to control our governments, and we have to have a vision of what it's going to be in the future and that means a new improved constitution that applies to everyone equally.
>> longtime journalist steven roberts has just written a new book "from every end of this earth," steve, do you want to temperature us about one of these families you followed? >> one is pablo romero, who dropped out of school in rural mexico when he was 11 years old, came to america as a farm worker when he was 13, spent his entire teenagehood in the lettuce fields of california, never went to high school. then he got drafted in the american army, got his high school equivalency, read every book in the post library, came
home and got to junior college because the local college in california had a program for young hispanics, then got a scholarship to uc-irvine and a professor of his said you know, you should go to medical school and he said me, medical school? the guy said how many spanish-speaking doctors are there in salinas, california, and the answer was no. today, pablo runs the medical clinic in salinas, california, where 80% of his patients are the farm workers that he used to work with. >> why 13 families? >> well, i wanted a range of families, i wanted testimony to come from different countries, each one is from a different country. i wanted them to represent different dimensions of the story. people like pablo came with no education and made their lives here. others came to graduate school to study biochemistry and now own high tech factories.
others came as political refugees, as a family from sierra leone in west africa, where the eddy stanley fled civil war, his brother saw his father and brother decapitated, was taken in by a catholic church in new jersey, so there's no one family or no 10 families that tell he the whole story, but i tried to get a sense of the broader picture. and the title comes from barack obama's inaugural address, where he said, america is enriched every day by people from every end of this earth, and i agree with him. i believe it. >> how long did you follow these folks? >> well, i interviewed each one at great length. several of them actually were students of mine at george washington university, who wrote about their families in a writing class of mine. i operate on the rule of ruthlessly exploiting my students at every possible
opportunity and so, several of the stories come from my students in several cases, i had students who acted as scouts, i had a student who was a high school teacher in philadelphia, sent me one family, another was a waitress in a salvadoran restaurant sent me another. in fact, the book is dedicated to my students, because they were such an important part of shaping it. >> did your conceptions of immigration change from writing this? >> why yes and no. the basic notion that immigration is one of the most dramatic and compelling of all human stories never changed. i knew this from my own family history, my grandparents were immigrants, i knew their stories, i knew their lives, i grew up in an immigrant community in new jersey, where everybody i knew was from an immigrant family. so that basic sense of what it takes to be an immigrant, the resilience, the tenacity, the courage, never changed. what did change was understanding some of the new and more modern patterns of
immigration. for instance, people can use technology to stay in touch in ways they never could. my grandfather was out of touch with his own family in russia for 5 who years. today, i have a student from brazil whose brother was marrying a brazilian immigrant, her family could not come to america for the wedding, they couldn't get visas, so my student took a laptop and a digital camera and did a realtime slide show for the bride's family, clustered around a laptop in rural brazil, so that's a very different change. the other change that's very interesting is the growth of commerce, particularly with asia. indian and chinese immigrants as trade with asia has boomed in recent years. they have a tremendous advantage. they speak the language, they know the customs, they have family connections, and so you know, my hometown, sure, there was an occasional italian family who imported olive oil from it b