President Obama, Jill Stein, “Free” Trade & Peace

I’ve been wrangling with wondering who to vote for for President on election day. At this point, I think I’m voting for President Obama even though I have been donating to Jill Stein of the Green Party (see its progressive platform here).

The reason I am wrangling is because I believe that the policies of the U.S. have been unethical, particularly with respect to people, animals and the environment, and President Obama has not always chosen the ethical path in the decisions he’s made.

Presidency of the United States is not supposed to be an imperial position. Yes, we can be great, but as peaceful global participants who follow the rule of law and the innate law of universal ethics.

President Obama has not closed Guantanimo Bay even though he has made that promise. And he has not gotten us completely out of Iraq and Afghanistan, militarily speaking. Many private military contractors have remained in Iraq. And in a large percentage of his public statements he continues to unquestioningly use military rhetoric about honoring troops, etc. Potential war with Iran has been floated at various points, too, thankfully always stopped.

In addition, the state of the U.S. economy has been largely determined by our military aggression and harmful “free” trade agreements. “Free trade” sounds nice, right? Freedom being free & all? But as many people found out on both sides of the border between Mexico & the U.S., the NAFTA free trade agreement only served to weaken domestic protections of various markets in both countries to the benefit of elite “players.”

I remember when President Clinton continued pushing NAFTA (President Bush Sr. initiated the process). I blindly thought that President Clinton was just another nice Democrat like Jimmy Carter and that he was working on an agreement to benefit the people of the U.S. I remember reading about Pat Buchanan, of all people, railing against NAFTA and I so I immediately felt that it was OK to support it due to my distaste for Buchanan. I was incorrect.

NAFTA harmed Mexicans so much that millions of them had to leave Mexico to try to find work up here in the States. I stayed with a Mexican coffee farming family in Tanetze, Oaxaca, and they were affected by this for a while. Many of the men of the village had to leave because the price of coffee went down to a couple cents a kilo. Also the U.S. sent its subsidized corn down to Mexico, undermining the domestic corn producers, a significant cost. These are a couple anecdotal facts to serve as heuristic indicators of the types of damage a “free” trade agreement has tended to cause.

NAFTA was huge, had a huge impact on the way we live. A lot more Mexicans live in this area of the United States now and a lot of this was due to NAFTA. Not that I’m against immigration, but it did have an impact and there was a reason for it.

You’d think we would’ve learned not to have so much trust in these types of agreements but President Obama’s administration has been working on scores more “free” trade agreements.

In October 2011, President Obama signed three more agreements with Korea, Columbia and Panama.

And tomorrow through September 15, representatives from nine countries are working on the fourteenth round of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). 

Critics of “free” trade agreements have tended to believe that the agreements are just negotiations that help transnational corporations and not the vast majority of people they affect–that the agreements tend to strip away the rights of people and the environment.

It’s important for us to ask questions of our President and to have long memories and really dig around and find out what the facts are. I don’t know of a single person in my casual circles who now thinks NAFTA was a good idea. So can we start asking about this tentative Trans-Pacific Partnership and find out what it would really mean for us, for people around the world, and for the environment?

I’m thinking that by voting for President Obama yet donating to both Jill Stein and President Obama, I am perhaps helping President Obama move towards the left by giving him some competition. This will move him and future Democratic presidential candidates to become more progressive, less warlike, and to better serve the broadest base of people and the environment.

~ Lady


A Real Letter from Me to You

I attended a meeting last weekend about the “American Dream” movement they are building. Although associated with Democrats, I think this movement also encompasses progressive ideals. Everyone in the room was concerned about sustainability, the environment, peace, universal health care, good work, etc. Several people were very discouraged with some of the things President Obama has done, so there was a lot of conscientiousness and self-examination in the room.

Here’s some bit of news about the Gang of Six in the Senate:

They are trying to raise taxes on us and cut taxes on the rich, and cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But we aren’t going to let them.

For young people reading this, these things might seem like things that don’t immediately matter or that it is useless, but they do, and there is hope that we can change things. I’ve seen the standard of living deteriorate and expectations deteriorate significantly over the past ten years. It is not unreasonable to see this turn around and become healthier. We have the resources and talent to turn things around. I had the pleasure of seeing a Democrat in Wisconsin get reelected last night after having made phone calls to do this; I’ve seen us raise over a million signatures for putting Ohio’s anti-collective bargaining SB-5 bill on the ballot so we can overturn it when we only needed to raise 230,000… I have been involved in these campaigns and it does help and it does matter.

One of the action items of last week’s meeting is to find five friends who will also participate in the movement to a small or large extent. As we are in such a time of flux, I think this is an important opportunity for people to engage and thus am providing this information with the thought that you’ll consider this and participate if you can. You can sign up for some information here: (newsletter signup on the right column of the screen.)

I understand that we live in a fast-paced society, but I think in this time of flux it is especially important to help ensure programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

I think also we’d seen a kind of deterioration in community life over the past twenty years, and now people are rebuilding community with local food movements, poetry, music… and activism is another way to rebuild and heal and socialize. I think that many have felt apathetic, estranged and horrified by the insanity of some of the stuff going on in the political realm. A way through this is to step into it and be part of healing via activism.


Dear President Obama

Dear President Obama:

I had greater hopes for you and am very disappointed and saddened by your policies and actions. I don’t know that I can really take anything you say seriously or in good faith anymore, and you have severely impacted my desire to vote for Democrats in the future. I’ve even canvassed for Democratic candidates but I don’t know that I can do this anymore.

I wish I had something positive to say about closure, etc. I wish for peace. But I wish people wouldn’t celebrate bin Ladin’s assassination with joy, and I wish you didn’t send me an email proudly touting celebrating the assassination. In the context of how the U.S. is so much more murderous to people in other countries than bin Ladin, this is difficult to tolerate, and I find this disingenuous.

I do understand that people of the U.S. wish to see our country as one that is on the moral high ground, and therefore great. This is a good wish. I wish it were true. I want it be true. Unfortunately, we are a perpetrator of aggression, aggression that suits U.S. and transnational corporations and the IMF’s deliberately oppressive financial policies.

So here is what I propose: if there is any true closure brought with bin Ladin’s death, I propose that it come in the form of dismantling these “wars on terror.”

Please withdraw troops and contractors from Iraq and Afghanistan and stop supporting the bombing of Libya. Please close the School of the Americas and Guantanamo Bay.