portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

a22: bush protest

Protest signs of hope

I put together a collection of portraits of protesters with their signs like this one at my the web page below. There is also a little about the police violence and a lot of links. (I tried to upload this late Thursday night and got nothing but a series of errors -- let's hope it works this time.)

If I took your picture and you want a higher resolution copy for printing - e-mail me.

 http://www.rivertext.com/protest.html
Protest signs of hope
Protest signs of hope

homepage: homepage: http://www.rivertext.com/protest.html


OBT 25.Aug.2002 23:49

Truth in advertising

This guy's story implies that this protest was organized by the democratic party. One bets that is news to about 95% of the people there.

the author responds 26.Aug.2002 01:11

Brian Thomas

It was not my intention to imply that the march was organized by any Democrats. I don't think I said anything about how it was organized. But, I did want to point out that new kinds of Democrats, one that are "mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore" did participate. I intentionally emphasized that aspect because I saw that as something I could do to help try to build the movement. There were not enough Democrats out there.

I know very well the kinds of people who organized the event because I went to a sign-painting party that turned into an organizational meeting. I was just going to sit and observe, but when I didn't vote on the first initiative the woman counting the votes turned to me and said, "So you're obstaining?"

"No, you know, I'm just a Democrat. I just came here to paint my sign."

"You're in the circle. You're either voting or obstaining."

So, there, was at least one Democrat, however, insignificantly, voting at one of your organizational meetings.

I was very impressed with the simple effective organization of the meeting -- especially after I got pepper sprayed and quickly treated.

If it was just up to Democrats there would not have been a protest march at all. However, I think that if you want fundamental change, you may have to lead us, and prod us, and enlighten us, at times, but you will have to work with us. Otherwise, I'm afraid its just a kind of life-style -- which has its own value -- but not a real struggle for a better world.

one more try - author's response 26.Aug.2002 02:01

Brian

It was not my intention to imply that the march was organized by any Democrats. I don't think I said anything about how it was organized. But, I did want to point out that new kinds of Democrats, one that are "mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore" did participate. I intentionally emphasized that aspect because I saw that as something I could do to help try to build the movement. There were not enough Democrats out there.

I know very well the kinds of people who organized the event because I went to a sign-painting party that turned into an organizational meeting. I was very impressed with the simple effective organization of the meeting -- especially after I got pepper sprayed and quickly treated.

If it was just up to Democrats there would not have been a protest march at all. However, I think that if you want fundamental change, you may have to lead us, and prod us, and enlighten us, at times, but you will have to work with us liberals too. Otherwise, I'm afraid its just a kind of life-style -- which has its own value -- but not a real struggle for a better world.

How about we just say FUCK OFF! 29.Aug.2002 00:06

B. Plains

We don't need you. SURPRISE!

We DON'T have to work with you. Your party IS PART
OF THE PROBLEM.

If you wan't to join the protest, fine. But we don't have
to work in your party. I'm not interested in helping your
spin doctors co-opt another movement.Where not your babysitters. I'm not going to waste my time trying to convince your shithead leaders that they need to kick they greed habit.

FUCK OFF.

The Democrats ARE NOT the vangard, they are the ENEMY.

Get Off the High Horse, B. Plains 29.Aug.2002 18:54

Anarchist Redneck

Man, what a shitty response.

This photographer is obviously trying to get involved in the movement, and considers himself a Democrat. This should not prevent him from joining the movement any more than membership in a communist or socialist party, a union, the green party, Earth First!, or an anarchist affinity group.

The poster here does not state that anyone has to join the democratic party, so what are you so pissed about? This is obviously not a "leader" in the democratic party: such politicians would not attend such a protest.

His experience at the signpainting and organizing meeting reflects how this movement ought to be, typically has been, and hopefully will continue to be organized.

We will not make anarchist (or any) revolution by only talking and working with people who already agree with us on every point. The fact is, most americans consider themselves democrats or republicans, and we MUST work with and challenge them, not insult them and drive them away from the dissident movement (back into the eager ideological embrace of the major parties, employers, and the state).

B. Plains, you seem to be a pissed off cynic who has already given up the possibility of revolution, and who takes bitter pleasure from tossing insults at well-intentioned folks.

Brian was out at the march, putting his neck on the line, photographing it and writing about it. I would assert that it is a journalistic error, a serious one, to overstate the presence of democrats if there weren't many there, as Brian admitted. But his effort to do something constructive far outweighs your childish insults. Whatever brand of "better-than-you" radicalism you adhere to, B. Plains, this anarchist would rather stand with Brian on the march, at the picket line, or even at the barricades - despite our obvious ideological differences.

I detest the democratic party, and believe it is interchangeable with the republicans - Clinton pushed through welfare cuts Reagan and Bush Sr. dreamed of, put far more power and numbers into the police, built up the military and jails, etc... Nixon was the last president to propose a comprehensive anti-poverty program to congress... the party doesn't matter, it's all run by the same money. Aparrently Brian thinks otherwise, as he continues to vote democratic, but that does not make him Bill Clinton or Madeline Albright! He would probably be upset, too, by Albright's comment that thousands of dead Iraqi children is an "acceptable cost" of Clinton's bombings and sanctions. Even if he wouldn't, at least he's open to discussion!

All that aside, Brian is clearly trying to engage himself, and do something positive. Fuck, he even invites us radicals to "lead, prod, enlighten, and work with" liberals like him. That's the kind of liberal with potential to turn radical with first-hand experience and "prodding" discussions with radicals, just the kind of experiences many of us went through on our way to radicalism! B. Plains, were you born more radical than everyone on the planet? If so, why are you still so stupid as to pointlessly alienate potential allies?

Fuck!

On a brighter note, thanks, Brian, for being willing to jump into the fray with the radicals. I think it's fair to say that most of us appreciate it, and want to work with you to make a better world, despite our differences.

In love and insurrection,
An anarchist redneck.

direct action may be necessary 30.Aug.2002 01:02

Brian Thomas

I'd like to thank Anarchist Redneck and Truth in Advertising for responding to my post. I changed the conclusion of the article after considering the latter's criticism. I am pleased, but not surprised, to hear, Anarchist Redneck's willingness to work with me to make a better world. He wrote a very thoughtful reply. I only wish to respond to the use of the phrase:

*** 'thousands of dead Iraqi children as an "acceptable cost"' ***

I'm not going to defend Clinton's policies towards Iraq. However, once you start talking about American responsibility for the unnecessary death of thousands of children you are stepping outside of political strategy, Democrat or Anarchist, and into an engagement with this crooked difficult world.

HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION: Would you not vote for a Democrat, *** IF ***, you knew that by voting so, you would be saving the lives of thousands of Iraqi children?

(It could be far worse than "thousands". If we go into a war to destroy Saddam Hussein's regime what motive does Hussein have not to launch whatever he has at Israel? None. Saddam Hussein, of course, has SCUD missiles that can reach Israel (he fired them at Israel in the last war) and he likely could put some crude biological weapon together. The expert consensus seems to be that if he did that Israel's Ariel Sharon would nuke Iraqi cities.)

I know there are questions about how strongly, or even if, various Democratic legislators will oppose Bush's war. That is why I made it a hypothetical question. Nonetheless, when we face the horrors of such a war, a lot of people around here will be considering some very "direct action." I am preparing to take some of these direct actions myself. I hope that all the anarchists here do not, because of some obsession with political purity, rule out the possibility of direct action at the ballot box. I hope they do not rule out the possibility that their responsibility to those Iraqi children might be to go beyond a protest vote to the direct action of making the most effective real-world anti-war votes they can make. If such anarchists reach the point where they are willing to make such a sacrifice, then they may find themselves voting for a democrat. I believe that to rule out such a possibility is to say that for you, 'thousands of dead Iraqi children are an "acceptable cost"' for your political purity.

The current White Resident and his loyal supporters, like our Senator Smith, are extraordinarily dangerous men. The current "expert" consensus is that Bush will not launch his war before the November mid-term elections. However, if the Republicans gain control of the Senate and retain control of the House, there may be no stopping Bush's war. So you may find very well find yourself in a situation in which your conscience demands that you take some very direct action, even that most difficult one of voting for a democrat.

Thanks, Anarchist Redneck, for being willing to jump into the fray with a "stirred up democrat". ;-)

Dead Children, Voting, and Direct Action 31.Aug.2002 04:55

Anarchist Redneck

The quote I referred to was U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's reply to Lesley Stahl's question on "60 Minutes" on May 12, 1996:

Stahl: "We have heard that a half a million children have died [because of bombings and sanctions against Iraq]. I mean that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And--you know, is the price worth it?"

Albright: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it."

Albright was answering for Clinton-era foreign policy, which was a continuation and expansion of that of the Reagan-Bush Sr. regime, as Clinton's policies were in virtually every area. She was accepting responsibility in this response for the deaths of half a million dead Iraqi kids (not to mention roughly as many more adult and teenaged civilians), on behalf of our "lesser of two evils" Democratic Party.

OK, the fact is that the DP rank and file are typically against involvement in foreign wars, because of certain broad anti-imperialist or pacifist sentiments. However, Republican Party rank and file members are almost the same in their opposition, just for a differnt reason: isolationism. Either way, the leaders of both parties ignore their party constituents in favor of their campaign donation constituents: the rich, the powerful, and big corporations.

It is clear to me that voting for Bill Clinton would not have saved a single Iraqi child, as he so eagerly continued the war in Iraq. I have no faith that Gore would not have done the same, with perhaps an even greater chance of stepping up war in Colombia than Bush Jr, because of Gore's personal and family holdings in Occidental Petroleum, one of the major extractors of Colombian oil.

Your hypothetical question is analagous to asking, "If by sucking the atmosphere of planet Earth into the vacuum of space you could make the world a utopian paradise and a wonderful place for life to thrive, would you? Or would you stick to the purity of your air-valuing ideals?" The fact is that air is necessary for life.

The FACT is that voting Democrat was the path taken by millions of Americans when Clinton ran for president, and the concrete result was as many dead children as I would have expected from any Republican candidate. Bush Jr. still has yet to match Clinton on those numbers, despite his obvious war fever. Even if he goes to war in Iraq, he will have difficulty surpassing Clinton's death toll. You can refuse to address Clinton's various civilian body counts (remember the Sudan, the poor African country where he destroyed one half of the total pharmaceutical production capacity in one missile strike), but that doesn't change the facts that he caused them, that he was a Democrat, and that he was heavily supported by his party - he was no renegade in carrying out these atrocities.

I have yet to see any evidence that voting for any candidate in US government elections can have a net positive effect, though I am always open to consider the possibility. If I were convinced that voting could have a positive effect, I would not simply vote for whoever happened to be running as a Democrat. I would research the candidates and vote accordingly - some Republicans are less likely to support war than some Democrats.

I am willing to consider voting, for any candidate or measure that I feel will make a net positive impact. I have voted in union elections and political groups I have belonged to; I do not refuse to vote as a principle. A vote in US government elections, though, serves only to legitimate a totally corrupt system and its vile parties, and for that reason I have never voted in US government elections. Even if you managed to get one half-decent person into office, what impact can they make? I am absolutely convinced that nobody who is even one one-hundredth decent will be chosen by either major party as a presidential candidate, due to the simple fact that big money runs the show. I agonized over this question during the last presidential elections. I did not even consider voting for Gore, but I considered voting for Nader despite serious reservations about him. Ultimately, though, on voting day I decided not to. Not primarily for reasons of "purity," but for practical reasons: no matter who you vote for, the government wins.

You write, "However, if the Republicans gain control of the Senate and retain control of the House, there may be no stopping Bush's war. So you may very well find yourself in a situation in which your conscience demands that you take some very direct action, even that most difficult one of voting for a democrat."

I don't think a Democratic or Republican majority in either chamber of Congress would alter the likelihood of war, nor do I think we would be less likely to be heading into war now if we had Gore in office AND a Democrat majority in both House and Senate. The majority of Democratic politicians are as beholden to the military and big business as the majorityb of Republicans.

The only hope to stop the war, in my view, is to fight against the war, not to vote for certain parties or politicians. Historically, it has been possible to stop this sort of insane war only by making it clear to the politicians that it will be impossible for them to maintain their control of the society should they continue with their policies, as in the Vietnam war. Remember that it was that Democratic Party idol, Kennedy, who first ramped up US involvement in Vietnam. If we want lasting safety, the only way to get it is to successfully remove power from the hands of a few elite people and place in solidly in the hands of all the people, which will never be an option on a ballot printed by the US government.


As for your characterization of voting for a democrat as "very direct action," I must insist that it absolutely is not. This is irrespective of whether or not it would be effective in preventing war (which it isn't and never has been).

Voting is one type of indirect action, and is by definition not direct action. Indirect action seeks to cause another person to do your will for you, while direct action aims to achieve your goal by your own efforts, or the efforts undertaken with your group. For example, if your sink is full of dirty dishes, and you vote for the politician who promises to do your dishes for you, that is not direct action (whether or not it gets your dishes clean). Direct action is doing the dishes yourself.

Here are a few dictionary and encyclopedia definitions, and some web resources on direct action.

From the Dictionary,  http://onlinedictionary.datasegment.com/word/Direct%20action/:

"Direct \Di*rect"\, a. (Political Science) Pertaining to, or effected immediately by, action of the people through their votes instead of through one or more representatives or delegates; as, direct nomination, direct legislation.

"Direct action \Direct action\ (Trade unions) See Syndicalism, below.
"Syndicalism \Syn"dic*al*ism\ (?), n. [F. syndicalisme.] The theory, plan, or practice of trade-union action (originally as advocated and practiced by the French Confédération Générale du Travail) which aims to abolish the present political and social system by means of the general strike (as distinguished from the local or sectional strike) and direct action of whatever kind (as distinguished from action which takes effect only through the medium of political action) -- direct action including any kind of action that is directly effective, whether it be a simple strike, a peaceful public demonstration, sabotage, or revolutionary violence. By the general strike and direct action syndicalism aims to establish a social system in which the means and processes of production are in the control of local organizations of workers, who manage them for the common good."

From the Encyclopedia,  http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/bus/A0815604.html:

"Direct Action: theory and methods used by certain labor groups to fight employers, capitalist institutions, and the state by direct economic action, without using intermediate organizations. Political measures, such as arbitration, collective bargaining, and trade agreements, are rejected as ineffective. According to the theory, workers, acting as a class, are in a position to exert pressure on capitalist institutions to secure rights. Such measures as the strike, the general strike, the boycott, and sabotage—frequently accompanied by physical violence—are the preferred methods for labor disputes; propaganda and agitation are employed against the government. The specific reforms gained are seen as steps toward the ultimate revolution and toward abolition of capitalism. The theory was developed with the rise of the labor movement in the 19th cent. and was formulated as a definite policy in the early 20th cent. by anti-Marxist radical groups, notably proponents of syndicalism. The method was used in France and spread to other European countries. In the United States the Industrial Workers of the World advocated it.

"See W. Mellor, Direct Action (1920); L. L. Lorwin, Labor and Internationalism (1929)."

From a Political Dictionary,  http://www.fast-times.com/political/dictD.html:

"direct action - when a group acts to achieve its goals without going through the accepted channels of communication or decision-making. If a group of workers, for example, goes on strike without the support of their union, or commits acts of sabotage, they are taking direct action."

The above are basic descriptions of the term by encyclopedia and dictionary writers. If you would like, I would reccomend reading the more in-depth discussion of direct action at the Anarchist Frequently Asked Questions web page, at:  link to www.geocities.com.


Some direct action resources:

Google > Society > Politics > Anarchism > Direct Action
 http://directory.google.com/Top/Society/Politics/Anarchism/Direct_Action/

Chicago Direct Action Network
 http://www.chicagodan.org/history.html

Direct Action, from Nonviolence.org
 http://www.nonviolence.org/issues/action.htm

Nonviolent Direct Action Tips
 http://www.ibiblio.org/netchange/cco/orgaction.html

What Is Direct Action? (Essay in three parts)
 http://www.groundscore.org/winter_2000/page04.html (Part I)
 http://www.groundscore.org/spring_2001/page05.htm (Part II)
 http://www.groundscore.org/summer_2001/page09.htm (Part III)




In love and insurrection,
An anarchist redneck.



A-Infos News


A President cannot prevent a War ??!?!? 31.Aug.2002 18:46

Brian Thomas

I think it was Jerry Brown, Oakland's mayor and the former Governor of California, who said that the greatest accomplishment of a contemporary American president would have been to stop the Viet Nam war before it started. However, Brown continued, (saying something like this), it would have been an accomplishment for which he would have received no credit, for no one would have ever known the horror that he avoided. Kennedy had a handful of advisors in Viet Nam. Noam Chomsky argues that the evidence that Kennedy intended to withdraw those advisors is misleading. Perhaps he's right. We'll never know for sure.

In 1968, opposition to the war in Viet Nam led Senator Eugene McCarthy to challenge President Johnson in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. The press and the polls dismissed McCarthy, but young people poured into the state to join his campaign. When Senator McCarthy shocked the establishment by winning 42 per cent of the vote, President Johnson withdrew from the race. The turmoil and the assassination that followed led to the election of Republican Richard Nixon and our further involvement in that immoral war. It is also led to a major reform of the Democratic Party nomination process. Anti-war Senator McGovern won the Democratic nomination four years later. Although he lost the general election, he fought not just too protest, but to win.

I lack the intimate knowledge of the term "direct action" that Anarchist Rednick possesses. However, I knew very well that I was using it in a different context than it is usually used. That is why I put the words in quotes the first time I used them. I still believe it makes sense to say that those young people who walked door to door in the snows of New Hampshire for Eugene McCarthy were engaged in very effective "direct action."

We may not know what a President who was assassinated or not elected could have done to prevent a war anymore than we know the cost of a successfully prevented war.

We do know, however, about modern presidents who have gone out of their way to start wars. Take, for example, our last invasion of Panama. Jimmy Carter, a Democratic president took a lot of abuse for honoring the Panama Canal treaty and giving the canal back. Who knows what terrorism and blood shed doing the right there avoided? However, the first President Bush wanted a war in Panama. He wanted to install his own puppet regime. We already had a puppet regime, Noreiga was on the CIA payroll, and they never cared about his drug dealings. Bush just wanted a new more obedient puppet. He pretended that the war was about drugs and capturing Noreiga. How many remember, just before the invasion, the news reports that announced that Noreiga had been seized by Panamanian military officers trying to prevent a war? They were holding Noreiga a few yards from the a U.S. military base, just waiting for the Marines to send over a taxi. I saw the report on the ABC evening news. A movie about these events won an Academy Award for best documentary. All Bush Sr. had to do was ask and he would have had Noreiga in prison without a war. He didn't do that because he wanted a war. He wanted to destroy the fighting capability of the Panamanian military.

Then there was the first war in Iraq. All Bush Sr. had to do to prevent that war was to make it clear to Saddam Hussein that we would not stand by and allow him to occupy Kuwait. Saddam Hussein massed his troops on the border and the U.S. issued a series of garbled vague communiques that gave Hussein the impression would we would allow him to invade Kuwait. (I am not saying that I know that Bush intentionally started the War in Iraq -- it is often a mistake to underestimate the incompetence of some leaders and their bureaucrats.)

Now George Bush Jr. is pushing for a war in Iraq at any cost to finish up the mess his father's administration created with the last war. I think most of us here agree that Bush Jr. makes even his father look wise and competent.

Al Gore's Dad, on the other hand, was an anti-War senator from a southern state, and those principles cost him his political career. Like his father Gore was opposed to the Viet Nam war. However, young Al Gore volunteered to go as a non-combatant. I take nothing away from Gore's oft-stated claim that he felt a responsibility to less privileged members of his community who could not escape the war as easily as he could (he was an idealistic Divinity student after all), but he also did it for his Dad. One way to put it is that he wanted to keep his Dad in office as a powerful anti-War voice. It didn't work. Nixon kept young Al Gore state-side until his father was defeated just to make sure it wouldn't work.

Al Gore wrote a book on the environment, "Earth in the Balance", worked hard to negotiate the Kyoto global warming agreements, and now you're writing during the beginning of the second international Earth Summit that it doesn't matter who is president. Bush Jr. is insulting the world once again by refusing to even attend the summit. Progress on all issues is stalled because the U.S. not only won't lead the world forward, it is fighting against the environmental protections we already have.

Use the URL below to see a list of the attacks on our environment by the Republican controlled Congress that were vetoed by the Clinton/Gore administration.

 http://www.nrdc.org/legislation/aclveto.asp

I am here interacting with Portland Indymedia, along with other people who often vote with the Democratic party, because I feel a responsibility to do more than just vote. I'm certainly not here to argue about whether or not voting Bush and his supporters out of office is the most important political action we can take, but just that it is one that we should ALSO take. I'm not arguing that Al Gore is some sort of political savior. I don't like the trade agreements like NAFTA, that Clinton/Gore supported. However, like a lot of us I'm just sick of hearing the big lie that it doesn't matter who is president.

In response to a hypothetical question, Anarchist Redneck seems to be saying that it doesn't matter if voting different could have prevented Bush from starting a war in the Middle East that goes nuclear. Such a nuclear war doesn't matter because Saddam Hussein used the oil embargo against his country as an excuse to starve his own people. Clinton tried to encourage the use of oil revenues for food and provide food by other means, without completely ending that embargo. My point has not been to criticize Anarchist Redneck's turning away from what some would call "geo-political realities" of our concerns about Iraq's development of weapons of mass-destruction to a concern for the welfare of Iraqi children. What I'm questioning is the turning away from concerns about how those childrens' lives because voting against Bush and his war doesn't, according to him, sit well with an anarchist faith.

Anarchist Redneck can point the finger of blame all day. Clinton inherited that policy of trying to contain Iraq and he would have better a man if he could have found a way out of it. However, what sense does it make to argue that because of Clinton's inability to extricate us from that nightmare we should not use as effectively as we can the power of the voting booth to beat back Bush's war and to beat back Bush's attacks on the environment, on labor and on our economy?

[In his last post Anarchist Redneck wrote:]
>>> I am willing to consider voting, for any candidate or measure that I feel will make a net positive impact.

Anarchist Redneck, I'll let you have the last word. Go ahead and list all the uncured evils of the world, if you like. Wrap them around the hearts of all the Democrats from Franklin Roosevelt to Albert Gore. That don't change the math at all. Subtract the leadership of the usurper George Bush Jr. , add in his place the leadership of the winner of the last Presidential election, Al Gore, and you get a "net positive impact." We can't change the past. Let's change the future. I don't to want to give the Democrats a blank check anymore than you do. I don't always vote for the democrat. All I am saying is that this November the country needs to hear from all of us in the ballot box just as much it did in August in the streets of Portland.

"Silence is the voice of complicity."

Brian


P.S.

Al Gore does not owe stock in Occidental Petroleum. The Green party made a big deal about Al Gore's mother's ownership of shares of Occidental Petroleum. At the same time they did this they ran ads (paid for by the right-wing of the Republican party) that bragged about Ralph Nader's price-less integrity. Nader, prince of the politics of purity, claimed he was so pure that he did not need, like the other candidates, to reveal his tax returns or tell us what companies he owned stock in. Eventually we found out that Nader's money wasn't in any of the so-called "Green Funds." He had a large part of his personal fortune in Fidelity Mutual, the largest owner of stock in Occidental Petroleum -- a company that drills in Columbia on land claimed by their indigenous peoples.

Yeah, Can't A Prez Stop A War? 04.Sep.2002 00:53

Anarchist Redneck

I tried to make my position clear, but apparently you did not understand me, because you titled your response "A President cannot prevent a war?" Also, you state, "In response to a hypothetical question, Anarchist Redneck seems to be saying that it doesn't matter if voting different could have prevented Bush from starting a war in the Middle East that goes nuclear." Then you go on to argue against various positions I do not hold and have not stated here.

Let me attempt to clarify:

In response to your "HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION: Would you not vote for a Democrat, *** IF ***, you knew that by voting so, you would be saving the lives of thousands of Iraqi children?" - my original response was, "Your hypothetical question is analogous to asking, "If by sucking the atmosphere of planet Earth into the vacuum of space you could make the world a utopian paradise and a wonderful place for life to thrive, would you? Or would you stick to the purity of your air-valuing ideals?" My intent was to illustrate that voting for a Democrat is voting pro-war, in my view, just as voting for a Republican is pro-war. This is despite the fact that the Democratic Party often bills itself as cooperatively internationalist, and the Republicans bill themselves as isolationists. They are both, in fact, fervently pro-war. We can catalogue a near-continuous series of aggressions and wars initiated by both Republicans and Democrats, alone and acting together, since WWII.

So, my straight up answer to your hypothetical question is this: IF voting for any candidate were in fact a vote against war, and would (or even had realistic potential to) save the lives of thousands of children, or contain aggression at home or abroad, I would cast that vote. If that magic no-war vote were for a Democrat, a ballot measure, or a Republican (or, dare say, a third party), I would cast that vote. If I thought that voting for Gore would have lessened chances of nuclear war (in the Middle East or elsewhere), I would have voted for him. I don't believe that fairy tale.

IN FACT, every vote for a US government candidate is a vote for war, since every ruling U.S. government and both major parties have, since World War II, had a clear record of aggression. Some times were slightly more covert than others, but that seems to have more to do with military and CIA strategy than whether a Republican or Democrat is in power at any given moment.

You cite Clinton's desire to reduce carnage in his round of the Gulf War: fine sentiment, if he held it (one can never trust the authenticity of a politician's sentiments). Regardless, his Secretary of State Madeline Albright clearly accepted responsibility for the deaths of half a million Iraqi children in the quote above, and said that her sentiment was that the cost of her Democratic administration's policy under Clinton was "worth it." I'm sure Osama binLaden thinks the gain for his cause was worth the thousands of victims of September 11. Timothy McVeigh used identical language to that used at times by Madeline Albright, Bush I and II, Clinton, and other politicians, to describe his victims, in the childcare center of the Alfred Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City: "collateral damage."

The mentality of heads of state is one that weighs these things. Is a particular strategic goal "worth" killing half a million children for? You buy into this, saying "only" a few thousand, and claiming it could be worse. Could it? I want no part of such moral calculus.

You ask, rhetorically, in the title of your most recent response, whether a President can prevent a war. Later in the same reply, you write of "Clinton's inability to extricate us from" the Gulf War. I ask you, can't a President end a war? Also, was Clinton unable to avoid ordering missile strikes on Sudan, killing uncounted civilians and taking out one of the country's two pharmaceutical plants, producing uncounted further civilian deaths?

Clinton continued Bush/Reagan era policies because he wanted to, and because that is the function of the American President. Anyone unwilling to wreck poor, weak countries never gets close to that office.

Similarly, Gore proposed continued military intervention abroad, more cops on the streets, more prisons (when we already imprison more people than any nation in history)... and so on. I haven't read his books about the environment. Perhaps they contain nice sentiments, but I don't expect much more than sentiment out of politicians. Look at history.

It isn't about blame, it's about understanding how human social structures work. Political parties and their governments have never advanced the causes of freedom, peace, or equality. They concentrate and coordinate power, which is an inherently violent function. It is simply what they are, and what they employ politicians to do for them.

Hell, I'm not "pointing the finger of blame" as much as you are: you blame the entire Gulf War situation on Bush Sr. and Jr., when you know full well that Clinton (with Gore as his sidekick) had eight years to pull the US out of that, and chose not to. I'm making no special effort to blame either of them, just recognizing that we've had Republicans and Democrats both running that fiasco, with equal zeal. In fact, in matters of foreign war, I think the Pentagon has more sway than the White House. The President is just a war salesman.

I know more about direct action than I do about Al Gore because direct action is where I put my hopes. Historically, it is what has made gains for the people and their movements. The history of politicians and parties is nearly unbroken history of sell-outs, deception, manipulation, and abuse.

I am unconvinced that Gore would have performed significantly differently than Bush Jr. has. It seems to me like a matter of religious faith: you simply believe that he would have, and state it as unquestionable fact. It's a weak position, since Clinton performed so similarly to Bush Sr. Yes, he vetoed some environmental attacks, but he pushed hard for welfare cuts Reagan and Bush Sr. wouldn't have been able to win, put more fascist cops on the streets, built more concentration camps/prisons...

Silence is the voice of complicity. I agree. I don't advocate silence, I advocate resistance. I advocate direct action against war, which requires direct action against the state and capital. That is to say, I advocate people taking back their lives from bosses and politicians. I do my best to reclaim my life. Together, with enough of us, we can win.

The most important form of complicity is not silence but active support, and if you voted for Clinton, you voted for his round of the Gulf War, his bombing of Sudan - all his aggressions both foreign and domestic. Just like if you voted for Bush I or II, or Reagan, you voted for their aggressions.

It isn't as though american anarchists are cleverly keeping droves of people from the polls who would otherwise turn out. Quite simply, the majority of americans are smart enough to see that one candidate is pretty much the same as another, and that the parties are all basically the same. That is why there is pathetic voter turnout.

It is important to deal with reality as it is, not as you would like it to be in a utopia. Yeah, it would be nice if we could trust others to make our political decisions for us, and politicians were motivated by a desire to help the people rather than by greed and avarice. That is not the world we live in. In our world, power corrupts, and in America, no matter who you vote for, they will almost certainly take us to war. It has been a consistent pattern since the end of World War II.

P.S. Yes, Nader is a scumbag too. You didn't mention that he's a union-busting, ego-tripping authoritarian. I didn't vote for him. None of that makes Gore a good guy, or someone I would entrust with decisions like whether to start a war. In fact, I don't trust anyone with that decision, so I won't vote for anyone to have that power. I won't "vote against" Bush by voting for a replacement cog that will perform the same tasks.

P.P.S. See you on the barricades, in the streets, on the march, and wherever else the fight against fascism takes place. I'll be happy to struggle alongside you. I just think the ballot box is about as vital and effective a terrain of struggle as yelling at a TV screen. Both are a waste of my time.