Tag Archives: election

Ammar Campa-Najjar

Can a “tall, skinny brown kid” unseat a five-term Republican Congressional incumbent in San Diego? “Si, se puede!”  Getting young Democrats to the polls in November will be the key.

Campa Najjar

Ammar Campa-Najjar (Democrat running for Congress in San Diego County)

Ammar Campa-Najjar (check out his website) is the son of a Mexican-American mother and a Middle Eastern immigrant father who was born and raised in San Diego. What caught my attention is the fact that he and his family lived in Gaza for four years until war broke out, and his mother brought her two sons back to the U.S.

Ammar never had anything handed to him on a silver platter (unlike Rep. Duncan Hunter whose father, Duncan Hunter Sr, bestowed his seat in Congress to his son in grand dynastic fashion).

Duncan Hunter, Jr. needs to go quietly into the sunset, just ask the FBI agents investigating him and his wife. Duncan has already spent more than half a million dollars on legal fees trying to avoid an indictment. (Read more here.) Duncan is vunerable and Ammar is just the person to unseat him.

Campa veterans

Look who’s endorsed Ammar — Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Justice Democrats, Our Revolution, Democracy for America, J Street, Progressive Caucus, Move On, National Nurses United, Working Families, labor groups and a ton of others. (The full list of endorsements is here.)

Campa endorsements

No surprise why Ammar has racked up these great endorsements. His platform and positions reflect the needs of working families, students, the elderly, the disenfranchised, and those who haven’t had a voice in Congress from CD-50 in San Diego County for decades. Read his positions on jobs, immigration reform, healthcare reform, environmental protection, election reform, and education.

Campa-Najjar is not accepting any corporate money for his campaign. He needs our contributions, small and large, to get his important message out.  Please contribute here.

 

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Filed under People, Politics, Uncategorized, US Policy, Video

Why I won’t vote for the lesser of two evils

A professional colleague/friend warned me today …

“Try explaining to your children why you didn’t vote for Clinton if el Trumpo gets elected. If you believe that it doesn’t make a difference if he gets elected and appoints one or more Clarence Thomas types to SCOTUS you don’t really care about the future. You of all people should recognize the potential for long-term damage that POTUS can do by appointing another Thomas or Scalia.”

Aside from the false notion that I “believe it doesn’t make a difference” if Trump gets elected, I agree that I certainly owe my children (ages 43, 39, 36) an explanation for why I’m voting for Jill Stein, the first time I’ve voted for a Green Party candidate.

I owe them an explanation and an apology for waiting so long (beyond the Planet’s expiration date, I fear!) to stand up and act consistent with my values.

We all agree that a Trump Presidency would be catastrophic. On my travels in Spain (April), Italy (June) and Greece (July), when anyone learned that I was an American, they almost always asked my opinions about the election and expressed alarm about a possible Trump Presidency. I share their alarm, but I reject the binary-thinking that a vote for Stein is a vote for Trump.

The candidates win or lose their campaigns, while the voters cast their ballots. I reject the notion that my vote for Jill Stein will cost HRC the election. If Clinton loses, then her campaign autopsy should consider many factors. I’ll list a few.

  • Clinton’s positions on the substantive issues might have failed to persuade enough voters to support her.
  • Clinton’s track record (years and years on the track) might have failed to persuade enough voters to support her.
  • Clinton’s campaign staff and volunteers might have failed to GOTV sufficiently.
  • Clinton’s Superdelegates who swung the primary in her favor might have failed to swing the general election in her favor.
  • Clinton’s legal issues (emails, etc.) might have ended up being a greater drag on her run for the White House than the Superdelegates and the DNC imagined.
  • Clinton’s DNC’s apology to Bernie Sanders might have failed to convince enough voters that the DNC is not a tool of the party establishment.
  • Clinton’s flip-flopping on the TPP might have failed to convince enough voters that her current opposition to the TPP is genuine.
  • Clinton’s aggressive pro-fracking advocacy around the world might have failed to convince enough voters at home that she’s serious about tackling climate change, as many of us believe it must be fought.
  • Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy positions might have unnerved many voters who thought they had voted for a change in direction when they elected Obama, but soon learned Obama (and even more so Clinton) did not share many Americans’ concerns about our country’s perpetual war.
  • Her obeisant and unquestioning loyalty to the government of Israel might not sit well with a growing number of American Jews who are fed up with Israel’s actions in the West Bank and Gaza.

There will certainly be many other factors to consider postmortem, if Clinton loses in November, but realistically the polls and common wisdom point in her favor. The list of Republicans who are voting for Clinton is growing daily.

So why am I NOT voting for Clinton?  Why can’t I bite my tongue, pinch my nose, or do whatever else it might take to vote for the lesser of two evils?

I always knew I couldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton.  I knew it in 2008 and my opinion hasn’t changed. I’m not a Bernie or Bust groupie. I abhor group-think in any form. Just because Bernie Sanders now endorses HRC and urges his supporters to vote for her, doesn’t persuade me in the least to follow his recommendation. I think for myself.

After it was clear that Trump would be the Republican nominee, and HRC would be the Democratic nominee, I considered my options  and decided that I could vote for Jill Stein. Here’s my calculus.

I’m voting in New Mexico, a safe state for Dems. If I voted in a swing, battleground state, my calculus would be quite different. HRC is very likely going to pull off a very big win in N.M., even bigger now that many Republicans are jumping their sinking ship and announcing their support for HRC. My vote for Stein will help bolster the Green Party’s standing in 2020, and might send a message to the Democratic Party that they no longer stand for my values.

I’m not a one issue voter. And I don’t demand 100% perfection from any candidate, contrary to what some friends have alleged.

I was an enthusiastic Sanders supporter, contributing $25/month to his campaign before any of my friends on-and-off Facebook acknowledged that he might actually pull off a win. His positions didn’t align with mine 100% but he was much, much closer than any other candidate, and I felt he could be “educated” on issues, such as Black Lives Matter and Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

Einstein

I’ve been watching HRC and her campaign very carefully these past few weeks, secretly hoping that she would give me some reason to vote for her — not perfection, but some small kernel of hope that I might have been mistaken all these years about her.

She gave me nothing. The DNC gave me nothing. Both confirmed for me that my decision to vote for Jill Stein is the only decision I can make consistent with my values.

Consider the following:

  1. The primary was rigged against Sanders.  Despite many friends asserting otherwise, the evidence appears too strong to deny. I’m particularly disgusted with the Superdelegates disclosing their pledges (for Clinton or Sanders) before the voters even cast their votes. Could Sanders have won the primary if the Superdelegates had not prematurely thrown their support for HRC and the media had not prematurely announced the “winner”? We will never know. But we should all be very troubled with these revelations and how the Democratic primary was conducted.
  2. The two sides hammered out a pretty good Dem platform, but I was sorely disappointed by the Clinton representatives’ intransigence on TPP and Israel’s occupation of Palestine. I don’t think the Party’s platform should be taken too seriously, it certainly  has no binding effect and doesn’t hold anyone’s feet to the fire. But the discussions that lead up to its adoption should give everyone pause. HRC says she opposes the TPP, but then why did her representatives oppose a position against the TPP in the non-binding Democratic Party Platform?

3. I’ve come to the conclusion that we (all of us on the planet) have run out of time. We have the answers, we don’t have the political will power to effect the radical change we need.  We don’t have time for the status quo and incrementalism that a Clinton Presidency promises to give us. In my view, HRC represents a nail in the coffin of the war on climate change because of her positions on fracking and oil & gas. She represents a nail in the coffin of a sane and just foreign policy in the Middle East and around the world. She represents a nail in the coffin of a sane economic policy for Americans and everyone on the planet. She just doesn’t get it.  Those are the three big issues and she gets an F in all three.

So I’m voting for Jill Stein because I must act and vote consistent with my values. I don’t expect miracles if Stein is elected, but I don’t expect a continuation of the status quo either. If Jill Stein’s deeds and actions match only a sliver of her rhetoric, then she will be a better President than either HRC or Trump. And she’ll be the first woman elected President in the United States, the first Green Party candidate elected, and the first sane candidate elected to the highest office in the land who is unbeholding to the corporatocracy.

I won’t tell you how to vote, but I hope you will get out and vote.

Corporatocracy

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear President Morsi أماه سلامة

I like to think I have the ear of Kings, Queens and Presidents.  (If you believe that, I have beachfront property in New Mexico for you!)  But I can dream.

Dear President Morsi:

Many people (including I) had great expectations when you were elected last year.  Today it seems the end of your Presidency is near.

I just heard that the Egyptian military has given an ultimatum. They want you to make a deal with the protesters in the street within 48 hours or the military will step in with their own road map for the future of the country.

Now the protesters know they only have to wait 48 hours; they don’t need to make any deals with you; the military is on their side.  What can you do?

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Here’s what I would do if I was in your shoes:

  • Minimize violence.   Egypt doesn’t need more martyrs. Send messages to your military, your cabinet, the police and local government officials, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, that violence is antithetical to democracy, and you do not want to see bloodshed at any cost.  You should get on TV right away and share the same message.
  • Apologize and help with the transition.  Stepping aside is not a sign of failure, it signals that the revolution that began in January 2011 continues to unfold.  No leader could have turned the Egyptian economy around in such a short time; no leader could have cleansed the bureaucracy built by Mubarak of the insidious corruption.  You made mistakes certainly, and you should acknowledge the mistakes so that future leaders can learn from them.  But you tried your best and now it is time to help with the transition.
  • Build a coalition.  The Muslim Brotherhood, after winning the election a year ago, thought it had some sort of mandate.  I think that arrogance and self-righteousness fueled the current protesters’ rage. “Democracy” does not mean “Rule by Muslim Brotherhood.”  In a democratic nation, people of all shades and stripes must work together. That’s why I think America is teetering on the edge of losing its imprimatur as a democratic nation. As you transition out of office, help build the coalition needed to govern Egypt in the years to come.
  • Cleanse the halls of corruption.  In your last days in office, you should do some serious house-cleaning.  You know where the old Mubarak gang resides, and you have the power to dismiss them.  I don’t know why you didn’t do this early in your Administration; maybe you wanted to be cautious. But if you have any power or authority left, I recommend you sweep them out now.

I am truly sorry that you didn’t have the chance to finish your 4-year term.  I had high hopes when you were elected, as I wrote here and here.  Now I hope you will provide leadership by example and show the world how a peaceful transition works on the path towards democracy.

أماه سلامة

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Filed under Egypt, Elections

An Inconvenient Truth

The hotel staff ran to the balcony this afternoon in Cairo and I wondered if the protests from Tahrir Square had moved to “my” neighborhood.   It was raining!   They were very happy to see the rain, a rare occurrence in Cairo I’m told.

The TV news has been running non-stop coverage of the protesters, the tear gas, President Morsi’s announcement of a curfew, and other stories about the current unrest.

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One local paper carried a story today about the Black Bloc and other groups involved in the demonstrations.

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Since I don’t understand Arabic, I must rely on what English-speaking Egyptians tell me about the situation.  

Some are saddened about this recent turn of events (ie. the protests turning violent).  Others seem frustrated that the economy has not improved in the past 2 years (tourism is down 50-70% I’m told) and they blame President Morsi.  A few have mentioned that they oppose the great influence that the Muslim Brotherhood has in the government now.  One person mentioned corruption.  Many people don’t have hope for the future.  

This is, of course, a very small, informal poll.  The opinions represent the educated electorate who are employed and speak English.

Every Egyptian I’ve talked with in Cairo say they oppose President Morsi.   I haven’t found a single person who supports him.  Some are willing to give him time to improve things, others want him to go now!

I’m hoping that peace is restored and Egyptians give their first democratically-elected president some time.   I know zilch about President Morsi’s policies, and I have no clue whether he is “good” or “bad” for the Egyptian people.   But he was fairly ELECTED, and no one has contested the election as far as I can tell.   Egyptians need to give themselves (as much as Morsi) some time to understand and appreciate the importance of the electoral process.

Every young person throwing stones in Tahrir Square today should be sitting in a civics class instead.  They should be preparing for the next election in 3 years.  And political parties of all stripes  should be engaging  Egyptians in serious discussions about the future of their country.

There is so much potential here.  In a lively bazaar this morning I found 20-30 stalls selling books (used and new).  I bet Al Gore would be very pleased to see a copy of his book about climate change — “An Inconvenient Truth”  on the shelf here and right next to the stall was a young man selling CFL light bulbs!

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Please give this young man and his CFL light bulbs some time!

 

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Filed under Egypt, Elections

What’s wrong with the Hamas Charter? Part 1

The US government officially designates Hamas a terrorist organization.  The Hamas Charter is usually cited as one of the main reasons.  So I’ve been very curious to learn more about this Charter, available here.  It is long and, frankly, poorly drafted because it rambles on and on and on.  I still haven’t finished it.  

Azzam Tamimi, author of Hamas Unwritten Chapters, says “the current Charter is written in a language that no longer appeals to well-educated Muslims.”   A balanced critique of the book is available here.

The Charter was first published on August 18, 1988 and has been frequently cited by Hamas critics as proof of its anti-Semitism and inflexibility.  Until the late 1990s, Tamimi says this criticism didn’t concern Hamas leaders much. They were more concerned about addressing Arabs and Muslims inside and out of Palestine, and not worried about what others thought.

Tamimi writes:

Many Hamas leaders now recognize that the fundamental and essential positions expressed in the Charter could be expressed in more universal language, that could appeal to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.  Instead of justifying its statements in religious terms, which may mean little to those who do not share the same faith or the same vision, a new Charter should refer to the historical basis of the Palestinian cause.

In Tamimi’s opinion:

The biggest problem arising from the Charter lies in its treatment of the Jews. Part of the difficulty here is that of the language employed. The average Palestinian refers to Israelis as yahud, which is simply the Arabic word for Jews. Terms such as Zionist or Israeli figure mostly in the writings and conversations of an elite which has received secular education. They are not current in the vocabulary of the common man, and have until recently also been absent from Islamic discourse. When Arabic texts referring to the Israelis as yahud are translated into European languages, they may indeed sound anti-Semitic.

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Khalid Mish’al told a Canadian TV journalist that the liberation of Palestine “does not mean that either the Palestinian people, or we in Hamas, want to kill the Jews or want to throw them into the sea as Israel claims.”  He expressed his determination  to continue the struggle to liberate Palestine and regain the rights of the Palestinians, but denied categorically that there was a war against the Jews.  “No, we do not fight the Jews because they are Jews. We fight them because they stole our land and displaced our people; they carried out an aggression.  We resist this Zionist project which is hostile.”  As for those Jews who do not fight the Palestinians, he said: “I have no problem with them, just as I have no problem with peaceful Christians or peaceful Muslims.” He went on to explain that “if a Muslim were to attack me and steal my land, I have every right to fight back. This applies to all others irrespective of their race, identity or religion. This is our philosophy.”

I have met members of Hamas in Gaza and, just like Democrats and Republicans, I know I can’t judge the “party” by the opinions of a few.  But I’m convinced of one thing.  The current US policy in the Middle East, and the State Department’s designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization, are counter-productive. 

Hamas won a legitimate election in January 2006.  And if there was an election today, recent polling indicates Hamas would win big again.   So Obama, and Clinton, and all the foreign policy wonks in Washington . . . come out of your offices and see the world as it exists, not as you wish it existed.

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Filed under Elections, Hamas, Islam, Israel, Politics, US Policy

Obama and Palestine

On Saturday, November 3rd, a fisherman in Gaza asked me to send his picture to President Obama.  “Obama good; Romney bad.”   He and other Palestinians in his community of Beit Lehia in the northern Gaza Strip are following the US election on the radio.

Gaza fisherman and his two sons

His comment blew me away for a couple of reasons.   First, a man on the opposite side of the planet, living in very difficult circumstances, is aware of the US election and the candidates running for office!    He said “Romney” … I didn’t give him a hint.   How many Americans don’t know the names of the candidates, or worse yet, know but don’t care enough to cast their ballots?

Second, this Palestinian fisherman obviously realizes the influence that the US has in the Middle East and on his life in Gaza.  Many, many Americans have no clue about the US role in the Israel-Palestine conflict.  Not a clue!

Americans may argue about which candidate is better on the Middle East issues, but I don’t see much difference.   Both men have drunk the AIPAC kool-aid, and they each have shown their allegiance to Israel.

Romney believes that the “Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace.”  He also believes that Jerusalem is Israel’s Capital.  Anyone who has been following the Middle East for any length of time knows that Jerusalem represents a significant place for both Israel and Palestine, and based on previous negotiations, Jerusalem will be divided.  East Jerusalem will be Palestine’s Capital.

Obama’s critics claim he has thrown Israel “under the bus” but any objective review of Obama’s actions while in office show that he is Israel’s best friend in a world that is quickly shunning Israel as a pariah state.

In 2011, Obama vetoed Palestine’s request at the UN for recognition as a state despite overwhelming support by the community of nations.   Every year, the Obama Administration has given Israel $3 billion+ in foreign aid, much of it for Israel’s military to maintain the occupation.   Most recently, Obama is now warning European nations not to support Palestinians in their quest in 2012 for “observer status” at the UN.   If granted, Palestine would have access to the International Criminal Court.   Hmmmmm!

Both Romney and Obama have made their obligatory journey to the Western Wall and donned the kippa for photo ops.

Mitt Romney at the Western Wall in Old Jerusalem

Obama at the Western Wall in Old Jerusalem

If I was a Palestinian, I wouldn’t be able to support either man for President.   President Jimmy Carter was the last honest peace broker from the US.   But as an American, I know there are many differences between the two on other issues which deserve serious study and consideration by every American old enough to vote.

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Filed under Elections, Gaza, Israel, People, Politics, United Nations

Today I voted in Gaza!

No, I’m not getting involved in Palestinian politics!

Today I completed my absentee ballot and emailed it back to the County Clerk in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, USA.   I think I can safely say that I’m the only American voting from Gaza this year and so I want to send an open letter to President Obama, whom I hope is reelected in November.

Gaza internet cafe where I made my absentee ballot into a PDF with the help of a friend.

Lora hits the “send” button and votes from Gaza.

Dear President Obama,

Thanks to the wizardry of the internet and email, I just completed my US absentee ballot in Gaza City and emailed it back to the county clerk in New Mexico.  This is certainly a small world.  I’m confident that my ballot will be counted and that my effort to vote for you will make a difference.

Speaking frankly, many of your decisions and actions over the past four years have greatly disappointed me.    On climate change, I expected you to act much more aggressively to curb CO2 emissions.  I thought you understood how dangerously close we (“the world”) are to passing some tipping points and irretrievably pushing our only home (Planet Earth) into a uninhabitable  condition for future generations.

I was arrested with many others in front of the White House last August to show you that the Keystone XL Pipeline proposed from Alberta, Canada to the Texas Gulf must be stopped in its tracks.

Lora is arrested in front of the White House August 2011.

Climatologist James Hansen says it’s “game over” if the CO2 emissions from those tar sands are released, but the pipeline construction is underway in Texas.

What must I, and others, do to convince you that your Administration’s top issue after reelection must be sharply focused on climate change?  There will be no second chance or “do-over.”   The time is now or never.   Since you’re a father of two beautiful girls, please look at them and think about the world you want to leave them.  And then invite Al Gore to the White House and listen to him very carefully.

The second issue that requires your undivided attention is Palestine.  Early in your first term I had some hope when I heard your Cairo speech, but your actions have not been consistent with the new thinking that I thought you represented for the Middle East.

Palestine needs support from the international community (including the US) in its effort t0 throw off the yoke of Occupation.  Israel needs a real friend, not a sycophant in the White House and Congress.  A real friend would help Israel move beyond its role as Occupier and see the realities on the ground in the Middle East.  There will be no security or peace for Israel until there is peace and security and justice for all.

All of those U.S. vetoes at the Security Council, in the face of support from the vast majority of the world’s nations, are unconscionable.  And giving Israel over $3 billion each year to entrench that country’s violations of human rights and international law is inexcusable.  The U.S. has the power and the leverage to support justice for the Palestinians, and we must act consistently with our values.   After your reelection, please invite President Jimmy Carter to the White House and listen to him!

We all live together on Planet Earth and we need to remember the Golden Rule — treat your neighbor as you would want them to treat you.   President Obama, please provide the leadership that I know you have in your heart.

Sincerely,

Lora Lucero

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Filed under Climate Change, Elections, Environment, Israel, Occupation, People, Politics, United Nations, US Policy