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Democrats and Republicans Approve War Appropriations

$63 billion approved for Iraq war with 12 votes, including Sam Farr, against.
Democrats and Republicans Approve War Appropriations

By Steve Argue
The US Congress has voted to give Bush 63 billion dollars out of the $74 billion he asked for in additional money to carry out the US war in Iraq. The vote was 414 for and 12 against with most Democrats (192) and most Republicans (222) voting to fund the war.

Voting against funding the war were two Republicans, nine Democrats, and the only independent socialist (Sanders) in Congress. Besides Sanders the other no votes were Blumenauer, Grijalva, Paul, DeFazio, Kucinich, Farr, Lee, Watson, Flake, Lewis, and Woolsey.

In the Santa Cruz area the anti-war movement applied successful pressure on Rep. Sam Farr, which was likely to have been a deciding factor in getting his vote against the war. We will be celebrating this small victory in front of the Santa Cruz County building (by the corner of Ocean and Water) on Weds. April 9th at 3 PM. We will thank Sam Farr for his vote and ask him to change his ambiguous position of supporting the troops to one of supporting the troops by bringing them home now.

Examples of true leadership in office opposing the war can be seen in Britain where members of the Labour Party have been outspoken in their opposition. This Labour Party is of course the same political party of warmonger and Prime Minister Tony Blair, but there is a real split in the party over the issue of the war. This split can be seen in very stark terms looking at the statements of Labour Party MP Galloway. Mr. Galloway has called the war illegal and stated that "The best thing British troops can do is to refuse to obey illegal orders." Galloway has also urged Arab countries to stop supplying gas for refueling the Anglo-American troops.

We should not have illusions that we are going to turn Sam Farr into a George Galloway. While needed schools are being shut down, and people go without health care, food or housing in the U.S. Sam Farr voted this year for over 400 billion dollars to be put into the US war budget. This is unacceptable.

A look at Farr's statements regarding this war shows that in many respects he is not really opposed to war with Iraq, but instead has tactical differences regarding the U.S. going it alone and other lame concerns that represent an actual interest in a more effective US imperialist war policy the world over. His vote for the massive military appropriations represents this common interest Farr has with Bush, big oil, and the arms industry. Farr's differences with Bush stem from his knowledge that this war may cause massive unrest, foreign and domestic, that may make it more difficult for the US to carry out its imperialist wars and exploitation on the people of the world. With such motivations there is no reason to think Farr will mobilize and educate the people against this war in the manner that Galloway has.

Sam Farr is a supporter of the death squad government of Colombia, a government that outright murders trade union and human rights activists. Despite these abuses corporate America and their representatives, including Sam Farr, see the Colombian death squad government as representing their interests. For this reason Sam Farr has voted to send billions of dollars in military aid to the Colombian death squad government. This must end!

Congressman Sam Farr also supported the bombing of Belgrade and Kosovo. This was a war that was waged to privatize Kosovo mines and further dismember Yugoslavia to promote US corporate interests in the region. The lie that the war was carried out to stop ethnic cleansing can be seen in the fact the US has been backing forces such as the KLA in Kosovo and the government of Croatia that have themselves carried out ethnic cleansing. Farr’s support for that war says something important about where he is coming from.

In contrast to the Democratic Party, including its most left wing, the Peace and Freedom Party stands in firm opposition to all US wars. We understand that the US wages wars for one reason: empire and arms sales that equal corporate profit. The working class interests we represent with the Peace and Freedom Party are those that do not want our sons and daughters to be sacrificed on the alter of war for corporate profit and who want our tax dollars to be spent on social programs at home.

There are some who argue that it is counter-productive to speak out against “lesser evil” left Democrats like Sam Farr and we would accomplish more just by being nice to him. Obviously I disagree. Sam Farr was under real pressure to vote against the 63 billion dollars for war, and we need to keep that pressure up in the future through our movements and by running leftist candidates against him.
 
 


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so let them pay for it

Why is this a matter for voting?

Why can't these other districts pay for it them damned selves if they want it so badly, and leave us out of it?

"Democracy" is all well and good when you're talking about stuff that can't be divided up, but when it's used to subvert existing division - such as forcing everyone to pay for a war that only some people want - democracy is perverted into mob rule.

I'm glad to hear that Sam Farr has chosen the harder but ethically superior of the 2 roads presented him, but to even participate in this vote only lends credibility to the absurd idea that the majority has the right to force the minority to help pay for an unnecessary and unconstitutional war that the minority doesn't even want.

This is not democracy anymore, because proper democracy has limits.

-Van
 

On The Importance of Votes

I agree that we the people, and the elected politicians, need to do more than vote. Political protests and education can lead to stronger forms of resistance such as anti-war strikes, resistance by soldiers, and even revolution.

How the politicians are voting is, however, the best indication of what they are thinking. Keeping an eye on those votes and informing the people of them is one more form of political education that can lead to further action by the people as well as pressuring the politicians to back off on certain votes.

How the people vote, until a mass movement changes it, is more of an indication of what people are being told by the corporate media. Those votes of the people are also prone to manipulation through electoral fraud by our corrupt system.

Yet at times votes can have a direct impact. Take for instance the vote in the Turkish parliament to not allow their country to be used as a US military base for the US aggression against Iraq. While this vote was still violated somewhat, it has had an impact by impeding part of the US war plan.

The election of Chavez in Venezuela has helped prevent the privatization of oil that is being pushed by the IMF and the World Bank and has allowed more social programs that benefit the working class and poor of that country.

Even in the United States candidates who challenge the system have had a big impact. Take for instance Eugene Debbs who ran for president as a socialist while he was sitting in jail for his opposition to US entry into the First World War. He got close to a million votes. While Debbs did not win his candidacy must have helped inspire and educate many on the importance of opposing the capitalist world war and opposing the capitalist class in general through the labor movement. Likewise the 2000 candidacy of Nader helped inspire many people to beyond the limits of the “lesser evil” debates within this two party system.

In the last presidential election the majority of the country, including in Florida, voted for Gore. Yet Gore and the Democratic Party were too timid to assert themselves and call for resistance in the face of Bush’s violation of democracy. If Gore had called on the unions who had supported him to go out on a general strike and man the barricades in opposition to the coup d’etat that had taken place, he would most likely be president. But the Democrats would never dream of doing such a thing because they have more in common with the Republicans than they do with the working class that they would be mobilizing.

Yet, the kind of subversions of democracy that took place against the Democrats would be better resisted by a strong socialist party based in the working class because we would not fear mobilizing against the capitalist class and their government. In fact we would use the occasion to bring the struggle to a head and move towards establishing a more Democratic system that abolishes corporate rule, imperialist wars for profit, wage slavery, and want.
 

Jerry

Steve-
Of you just espoused such a wonderful view of socialism, then why are you running on the Peace and Freedom plank, rather than the Socialist? Just wondering.
 

this is why I dont vote

Voting has one inherent flaw, at least the way voting is implemented in America.

If I participate in a vote on any subject, I'm making 2 statements. Firstly, I'm stating my primary choice in the matter.

But secondly, I'm implicitly agreeing to accept whatever the majority opinion is, and to abide by it.

The 2nd part of this is critical - if Im not going to abide by the majority decision, I'm not truly participating in the democratic process. I'm just voicing an opinion.

If it's just an opinion poll like something on cnn.com, that's fine. But if it's a ballot box for a decision based on democratic compromise, and if I cast my vote, I am personally honor-bound to go along with *whatever* the end result is.

To do any less, is to act in deceit. Honesty is the cornerstone of a truly civil society, and deceit the ultimate destroyer of it.

For Sam Farr to vote against taxing the hard-earned income of American citizens to pay for some bullshit military adventure sounds fine on paper, but is for Sam Farr to agree to go along with whatever the majority will may be.

In essence, to vote is to condone an unknown result. Which is fine for some questions - questions of how to use something which is communally owned and yet indivisible (say, 3 people own equal shares of a car and cant agree on where to drive tonight - you have to vote, and accept the result.)

But taxation for unjustified military aggression against another nation? There's a far superior answer to this issue of who pays for it. Let the warhawks pay the bill if they hate Iraq so much, and leave the rest of us the hell alone if they can't afford those $1M-a-pop cruise missiles!

But the system of so-called representative govt as practiced in America today, doesn't like that answer. The majority likes having the minority as slave labor to help pay for the majority's little war parties.

Presidential elections are even more fraudulent in their implementation. If..

40% vote for Republicrat A,
35% vote for Republicrat B, and
25% vote for all the independent guys,

..why does A win with only 40% when 60% of the vote was against him? Maybe those other 25% would have voted for B and the 2nd round (if there was one), and changed everything?

But The System doesnt allow for this. It would rather punish anyone who doesnt vote for the two major parties, by discarding their votes entirely. Thus the status quo of the 2 ruling parties is maintained, and anyone daring to think outside the mainstream political box has their opinions nullified.

Good way to keep society from being influenced by "them damn radicals", huh? The Democrat and Republic parties (which grow more similar with each passing year) get to maintain their duopoly, and keep any philosophical competition out of the ring entirely.

As a further example of the joke that is voting in America, what about non-voters? There's this silly prevailing notion that "if you don't vote, you can't complain".

Funny.. if I don't choose a lesser-of-9-evils from your rigged multiple-choice ballot, I suddenly lose *all my constitutional and human rights*?

I don't need to participate in another sham presidential election, to retain the right to declare very loudly that whatever slimeball gets elected still has no right whatsoever to tell me what to smoke, what to drink, what to eat, or any number of other violations of constitutionally-recognized aspects of personal liberty.

We used to have this thing called the Bill of Rights, which essentially said "The democracy stops here." But I guess that's old fashioned now.

Besides, govt at all levels of society in America has clearly lost almost all sense of self-restraint. They have a million and one rules, half of which contradict one another, and then they pretty much do as they please. They enforce laws in direct violation of other laws, they grossly misapply laws that are thrown out later, they make up laws, they even arrest you, hold you, and release you *without ever filing any kind of charge about breaking ANY law*.

What's the point of pretending anymore? This is not the "rule of law", this is limited chaos.

I'm perfectly willing to live and let live, but I refuse to play along with these silly PR games. Because that's all it is, a big public relations campaign to get us to believe that what the system does to us or otherwise in our name, is justified because we voted for X and he won, or we voted for Y and he lost fair and square so shut up, or we voted for Z and he lost so go ahead and complain now (because fat lotta good that's gonna do, and they know it.)

Nothing but layer upon layer of excuses, justifications, diversions, and lies.

Live and let live, accept responsibility for your own life, don't expect a free lunch from anyone else and don't let anyone else expect a free lunch from you.

And if you have to, fight to defend what is yours. Not just for your own sake, but for the sake of the guy who's gonna get it worse tomorrow if you don't stand up for yourself today.

American law, American politics, hell American philosophy in general is just so much mass hysteria masquerading for rational thought.

Maybe I *should* move to another country - somewhere really, really remote where humans (or at least, Americans) can't find me.

Much as I hate the idea of running away from my home just to escape a bunch of lunatics, it's become impossible to live anywhere in America without getting pestered, regulated, extorted, inspected, tracked, and attacked. (And California is supposed to be a liberal state? There's less regard for liberty here than most of the remaining 49!)

Americans just don't know how to mind their own damned business anymore. That goes for the full political spectrum, left wing to right.

*sigh* It's Rome all over again.

-Van
Radical center / Libertarian, so fuck y'all
 

On Socialism, A response to Jerry

Jerry, thanks for your kind comment and your question. The Peace Freedom Party is actually a socialist party, and with 80,000 registrants in the state the only one that has ballot status in California. The following is our platform (although it has been slightly ammended since this version, this is what I have handy).

PEACE AND FREEDOM PARTY PLATFORM
Adopted 9 July 2000, revised 19 November 2000.

The Peace and Freedom Party, founded in 1967, is committed to socialism, democracy, ecology, feminism and racial equality. We represent working class people: the employed, the unemployed, people on welfare, the undocumented, the homeless, the incarcerated, retired workers, students and youth, and armed forces enlisted people, of all ethnicities, religions, languages,
cultures and sexual orientations those without capital in a capitalist society.

Socialism. We support social ownership and democratic management of industry and natural resources. Under capitalism, the proceeds of labor go to the profits of the wealthy few. With socialism, production is planned to meet human needs.

To us, socialism is workers' democracy, including the principle that all officials are elected, recallable at any time, and none receives more than a worker's wage. Socialism can only be brought about when the working class unites and acts as a body in its own interests. Our goals cannot be achieved by electoral means alone. We
participate in mass organization and direct action in
neighborhoods, workplaces, unions and the armed forces everywhere.

While organizing for the future, we work in the present, challenging the system with the following immediate and transitional goals:

Labor and Full Employment

*We demand a socially useful job at union pay levels or a guaranteed dignified income for everyone.

*We call for a 30-hour week for 40 hours pay and abolition of forced overtime.

*We demand expansion and enforcement of job health and safety laws.

*We call for the restoration of all labor rights previously won for women and their extension to men as well.

* We demand paid parental leaves and time off work for child care.

*No prison labor for private profit. Living wage and full union rights for any prison labor.

*Defend workers' rights to organize, form union caucuses, strike, and boycott.

*No replacement of striking workers.

*Federally-funded public works programs to rebuild the nation's infrastructure and restore the environment.

*International solidarity of workers against international capitalist schemes such as NAFTA and WTO in defense of jobs, wages, working conditions and environmental laws.

*A rank-and-file socialist-oriented labor movement to mobilize working-class people to assume ownership and control of the economy.

Peace and International Justice.

The drive for greater profits by multinational corporations that direct U.S. foreign policy is a major cause of war. We stand for peace between nations and the right of all peoples to self-determination. We support
socialist transformation everywhere. We therefore call for:

*The United States to renounce a nuclear first strike, and take the initiative toward global disarmament by eliminating nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

*No U.S. intervention anywhere. End all support and aid to repressive regimes and all military and police training aid everywhere. End efforts to destabilize foreign
governments. End U.S.-directed economic warfare against Cuba, Iraq, North Korea, Yugoslavia, and other countries. Abolish the CIA, NSA, AID and other agencies for
interference in other countries' internal affairs. Withdraw all U.S. troops and weapons from all other countries. Stop all U.S. arms exports and trade.

*Dissolve all military pacts. Conversion from military to peaceful production.

*Abolish the Selective Service System.

Equal Rights and Liberties

The capitalists use every difference in society, including sex, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, age, and physical abilities to divide workers in order to depress wages, maintain a surplus labor pool, and prevent working-class unity. We demand equal treatment of all people by employers, businesses and government. We stand for a world free of all forms of oppression.

Women. We demand full equality of women in all aspects of life. Sexism is a major instrument for teaching relations of domination and inequality and for keeping one-half of the work force underpaid or unpaid. End oppressive sex roles in society; equal rights and responsibilities in child raising; unions must do more to organize women and promote women's leadership. We demand:

*Adoption of an equal rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

* Equal pay for equal work, and for work of comparable worth.

*Enforce nondiscrimination in hiring and promotion with affirmative action where necessary.

*Provision of free, high-quality, community-controlled child care.

*Free abortion on demand. Convenient provision of safe, free birth control information and materials to men and women of any age.

*Stop forced abortions and sterilizations.

*End violence against women.

Ending Racism and National Oppression.

Accompanying the continuing economic crisis, we see a rise in racial discrimination, increased terrorism against racially and nationally oppressed people, and retrenchment in civil rights. Minority families are disproportionately victimized by cutbacks in health care, education, child care, welfare, food stamps and jobs. We
demand:

*End all forms of racial discrimination.

*Enforce nondiscrimination in hiring and promotion with affirmative action where necessary.

*Prosecute and punish police and prison officials who engage in racist brutality.

Language Rights.

The Peace and Freedom Party calls for restoring to the State Constitution co-equal status for Spanish as an official language of California in recognition of its cultural, historical, economic and demographic importance to the people of this state.

*Abolish all English-only laws and policies, including those of private employers.

Undocumented Workers.

Immigrant workers are hounded by government authorities, worked and housed in substandard conditions by unscrupulous bosses, and blamed by Republican and Democratic demagogues for society's problems.

*We call for open borders. Dismantle the INS.

*We demand an end to deportations of immigrants.

*We demand full political, social and economic rights for resident non-citizens.

Native Americans.

We support self-determination of indigenous peoples and sovereignty for Native nations. We demand:

*Honor treaty obligations with Native American nations and recognize California tribes.

*Stop the theft of natural resources located on reservation lands.

*Honor Native American water, hunting and fishing rights.

*Free the prisoners of the FBI-BIA war against Native Americans, end all harassment.

Sexual Orientation

*Equal treatment and benefits under the law for all families. Guarantee equal child custody, adoption, visitation privileges, and foster parenthood rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

*Equal treatment for all people in the military regardless of sexual orientation.

*The right to gay marriage and partners' benefits.

*Accurate sex education courses in public schools.

*Truthful information about sexuality in society and history.

The Disabled.

The disabled are entitled to special consideration and planning in education, housing, health, recreation, transportation and attendant care to enable fuller participation in all aspects of society.

Retired Workers.

Retired workers must be guaranteed a decent living at union wage levels. We demand:

*Immediate improvements in economic benefits and social services.

*Free, quality, multi-lingual and multi-cultural medical and home health care.

*Accessible transportation.

*An end to all forced retirement.

* Stop the segregation and isolation of senior citizens.

Defense of the Environment.

The alarming destruction of the world's biosphere is brought about by the same corporate forces and economic system that exploit and brutalize the world's working class people. We organize against their ecological destruction as we do against their social policies, which
often overlap. Socialism is necessary to end the ecological destruction caused by capitalism. Our goal is a society that is in harmony with nature as it is in harmony with its own people.

We therefore favor the integration of the following into the normal operations and planning for a society in harmony with nature:

*Planning for urban and regional environment based on principles of sound ecosystems management.

*Tighter regulation of pesticides, herbicides, industrial wastes and genetically-modified foods to protect human food, air and water, employees in the workplace, and species habitat.

*A multi-source energy system, development of solar technology and other renewable, non-polluting energy sources. Eliminate nuclear power plants.

*Protect the ozone layer.

*Protect species habitat such as old-growth forests to preserve biodiversity.

*Massive development of free public transportation.

Education and Culture.


Education, culture, and scientific research are critical to individual survival and civilized human values, but U.S. capitalism is dismantling public education and cultural institutions. Inadequate and
unequal funding of schools perpetuates racism, crime and
inequality. We demand:

*Integrated, democratically-run schools with up-to-date plant and equipment and smaller classes.

* Teach the history of workers' struggles and labor's creation of society's wealth and progress.

*Multi-lingual and multi-cultural education at all levels.

*A federal law requiring and funding equal average per-pupil expenditures by every public school district, with extra funds for students with special needs such as disability or economic deprivation.

*Tuition-free higher education available to all.

*Restore cutbacks in public education and public library services.

*No school voucher schemes.

Housing and Rent Control.

We recognize the right of everybody to quality, secure housing. We demand:

*Production and rehabilitation of non-profit, community-controlled housing through public financing with immediate emphasis on housing the homeless.

*Rent and eviction control laws and collective bargaining for tenants.

*Resident-controlled community renovation programs to create, not destroy, low- and moderate-income housing.

*Enforce local affordable housing quotas.

Freedom, Justice and Crime.

We call for the defense and extension of the liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, including freedom of speech, press, assembly and association, and the right to keep and bear arms for individual and collective defense. The ultimate guarantee of those rights is the organized strength of the working class.

Capitalism and poverty breed crime and repression. Working class people are the primary victims both of street crime and of police reaction to it. The bosses use laws against victimless activities, "legal" and illegal expansion of police powers, military and paramilitary occupation of poor and minority communities, and
diversion of resources to police and jails, to keep workers
intimidated and dependent. We demand:

*Stop state-sponsored spying on and violence against progressive organizations.

*Democratically-controlled police review boards with powers of subpoena
and
discipline.

*Abolish the death penalty.

*Repeal the Three Strikes law.

*Stop trials and imprisonment of juveniles as adults.

*Treatment of prisoners as human beings: rehabilitation, not vengeance. Prosecution and imprisonment of guards who brutalize and murder.

*Decriminalize victimless activities including drug use and consensual sex. Legalize marijuana. End the "war on drugs," which is primarily directed against poor and working-class people.

*Stop unwarranted searches and seizures of persons and property. Restore constitutional rights.

*Prosecute crimes of the wealthy and powerful against workers and the environment.

Voting and Elections

*Proportional representation to promote legislative representation of the wide variety of political viewpoints.

*Enforce and extend voting rights for people of color, non-English speakers, and homeless people.

*Free and equal access to radio and television for all candidates.

Health Care.

We believe that access to quality medical and dental care is a basic human right. We stand for a democratically-controlled, publicly-funded universal health care system. We support heath practices that emphasize education, prevention and nutrition and minimize dependence on drugs, surgery and radiation. We demand:

*Free high-quality health care for everyone.

*Free immunization programs.

*No private patents on drugs developed through publicly-funded research.

*Price controls on drugs and medical technology.

*Safe prenatal care, including women's choice of birth alternatives.

*More medical facilities to provide services and education in low-income neighborhoods and rural areas.

*More substance abuse treatment and needle-exchange programs.

*More research into diseases and disorders caused by man-made substances.

Taxes.

Public services and infrastructure have deteriorated as government has increasingly shifted the tax burden from
corporations to workers. Our long-term goal is a socialist society without conventional taxes, with public services to be funded from the proceeds of social production.

*Repeal Proposition 13. Tax property for profit, not property for personal use. Remove property taxes on modest
owner-occupied homes.

*Repeal the sales tax.

*Include aggregate of real property and stocks, bonds, etc. in a steeply-graduated property tax.

*Restore the renters' tax credit. Double registration fees on luxury vehicles.

*Tax unearned income at a higher rate than earned income.

*Eliminate or reverse income tax on low- and moderate-income families.

*Re-enact California's unitary tax on multinational corporations.

*Tax the business activities of churches on the same basis as other organizations.

*Take the cap off social security taxes, make the rates progressive so burden falls on the wealthy.
 

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