07 February 2007

Doing Alaska Proud

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel's quest for the presidency received some high-level coverage yesterday... of course, it's not exactly positive:

The larger disaster was the long harangue of former Alaska senator Mike Gravel, a strident critic of almost everything and promoter of a folly -- a national initiative process -- that not even a deranged blogger could love. Someone has to give him the hook before the real debates begin.
David Broder doesn't think too highly of Gravel's idea. I can't blame him, really. After Fairbanks' recent experience with the initiative and referendum process, who does?

I guess Gravel could always rely on the old saw, "I do not care what you say about me so long as you spell my name correctly."


GeoRip said...

Yes, Mike has always done Alaska proud. He is a statesman that does America proud. Check out his record. I don't know why you think David Broder is anything but a pompous windbag, try out William Greider's opinion instead.
Also take a look at www.gravel08.us

I'm sorry that you had a disapointing experience with the initiative process. If enough people feel strongly the way you do, you can always take the initiative to overturn the results. Democracy doesn't mean you always win but it should mean you always have a chance to have a meaningful vote.

The issues which confront America and the world today, from healthcare and the IRS to global warming and war, will require a fortitude and determination which the Republicrats and Demublicans with their corporate shills seem incapable of. It is time the people had a seat at the table of power, it is our government after all. Learn the Swiss example, from whom we copied the ballot initiative process, for 160 years they have gone to the ballot box 4 times a year to vote on the major issues of their governance, the details of which they leave to their obedient legislators. That is what eternal vigilence means to their liberty. Please don't take these issues too glibly. Nome may be far from the halls of power but your opinion counts.
George Ripley

Published on Thursday, February 8, 2007 by The Nation
Mike Gravel's Campaign
by William Greider

Last weekend, C-Span radio was broadcasting live the speeches of presidential candidates before the Democratic National Committee in Washington. I was listening in the car while running errands. Bill Richardson, the New Mexico governor, was holding forth when I ducked into a store. When I got back to the car, a different candidate was speaking, a voice I didn't recognize.

"We made a grave mistake," he said. "We should have the courage to admit it. We must bring our troops home now -- not six months from now, not a year from now -- NOW! One more American death for ‘our vital interest' is not worth it. We all know ‘vital interest' is code for oil."

Wow. Who is the guy?

"The Democrats in control of Congress need to act resolutely -- and I'm not talking about some mealy-mouthed, non-binding resolutions. They need to precipitate a constitutional confrontation with the George Bush."

It's not Dennis Kucinich. I know his voice.

"We have become a nation ruled by fear. Since the end of the Second World War, various political leaders have fostered fear in the American people -- fear of communism, fear of terrorism, fear of immigrants, fear of people based on race and religion, fear of gays and lesbians in love who just want to get married and fear of people who are somehow different. It is fear that allows political leaders to manipulate us all and distort our national priorities."

Yes! I was working up real enthusiasm for this guy, but still didn't know his name. He then assailed the American-led arms race and the claim of "American exceptionalism" made by some of his fellow candidates.

"We are indeed a great nation, one that has made significant contributions to humanity. But our leaders are promoting delusional thinking when boasting that the United States and Americans are superior to the rest of the human race. We are no better and no worse."

I don't know if I've ever heard an American politician say that. He illustrated the point by observing that Americans are mainly "Number One" in production of weapons, consumer spending, debt, people in prison, energy consumption and environmental pollution.

"The major problems we face are all global in nature -- energy, the environment, terrorism, drugs, war, immigration, disease, economic and cultural globalization. These problems require global solutions that can only be addressed by concerted diplomacy and cooperation, not jingoism about America's super power superiority."

Amen. He talked too long, but what an inspiring speech it was. Afterwards, I learned his name -- Mike Gravel, the former two-term senator from Alaska.

As a gutsy politician, Gravel was always out there. He championed the Alaska state fund that distributes the state's vast oil revenues directly to all its citizens. During the Vietnam war, he filibustered against renewal of the military draft. He unilaterally declassified the Pentagon papers by staging a one-man hearing where he read the documents into the Congressional Record.

This year, Mike Gravel is running for president and promoting a national initiative by which citizens could legislate laws directly. Look for him at the "cattle calls" where Democratic candidates gather. He is 76 years old. He is still speaking truth to power. They can't shut him up.

William Greider, a political journalist and author, has been a reporter for more than 35 years for newspapers, magazines and television. Over the past two decades, he has persistently challenged mainstream thinking on economics.

Anonymous said...

WHAT? Gravel is now taking credit for the Alaska Permanent Fund? Puleease!