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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

10 Good Things About a Bad Year

10 Good Things about Another Bad Year
By Medea Benjamin
t r u t h o u t Perspective

As we close this year, a year in which we were pummeled by the Iraq war, attacks on our civil rights, and Mother Nature's fury of hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis, there is no shortage of reasons to feel bruised and beaten. But to start the New Year with a healthy determination to keep on fighting, we need to reflect on the good things that happened. And there are plenty.
One continent alone - South America - could provide more than ten examples of wonderful progressive victories, but I'll just list some of the highlights.
1. Hugo Chavez has shown how an oil-rich nation can use the country's wealth to provide education, healthcare and small business opportunities for its people - and we here in the US have discovered an oil company we can feel good about buying gas from: Venezuela's CITGO.
2. Bolivians have, for the first time in their history, elected an indigenous president, Evo Morales. The former llama farmer and coca grower has fought against "free trade" and the privatization of his nation's resources, and has brought new hope to indigenous people throughout the continent.
3. Anti-war activists - who once represented a much-maligned minority - now represent the majority of Americans who agree that the war in Iraq was a mistake and the troops should come home as soon as possible. And with Cindy Sheehan and Cong. Jack Murtha, we finally had spokespeople the mainstream media listened to!
4. In an historic blow to the Bush administration's five-year attempt to destroy the Kyoto Protocol, the climate summit in Montreal ended with even stronger measures to combat global warming. At home, nearly 200 cities are taking their own Kyoto-type actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
5. The Senate ended the year with a spurt of defiance, refusing to permanently extend the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, blocking the Republican maneuver to attach Arctic oil drilling to a defense spending bill, and passing John McCain's anti-torture amendment.
6. Despite a concerted offensive to lift the president's sagging public support, George Bush's approval ratings are still below 50 percent, his economic agenda (from the privatization of social security to the repeal of the estate tax) has unraveled, key cronies from Lewis Libby to Tom DeLay have fallen from grace, and 2006 might just put impeachment back into the congressional lexicon.
7. Labor, community activists and women's groups have mounted a spirited campaign against the behemoth of behemoths, Wal-Mart. And a California jury awarded $172 million to thousands of employees at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., who were denied such basic rights as lunch breaks, with 40 similar lawsuits pending in other states.
8. With the wild swings in gas prices, SUV sales have plummeted (Ford Explorer down 52%, Chevrolet Suburban down 46%), the sale of hybrids has doubled, and the US House of Representatives actually held a forum on the "peak oil theory."
9. In a great win for farm workers, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers forced the fast food giant Taco Bell to raise the price for picking tomatoes (nearly doubling many workers' salaries), and now they're ready to take on an even bigger bully: McDonald's.
10. The global movement for peace and justice proved it was alive and kicking: witness Argentina during the Free Trade Agreement meetings, Hong Kong around the World Trade Organization ministerial, and the ongoing rallies against the war. The steady growth of the fair-trade movement also shows that we are not just protesting, but we're also building a more sustainable economy.


Wheeli said...

Just one comment, Clinton's Approval Rateing never got above 45% during his Presidency, and he never go more then 45% of the vote in either of his elections. If not for 3rd party candidates he would not have won.

Bush is beginning to turn his Numbers around. I will admit I have concerns about the wire tapping, and if he has broken the law, which has not been shown yet, I will be one of the first to call for his Impeachment. Which is more that I can say for the Dems during Clintons Administration when it was proven that he had FBI files on his enemies .

Lynn Green said...

I don't know where you are getting your fictions from. This is what Clinton's approval rating was at the end of his presidency.


Despite his prevaricating, his sexual misadventures and his impeachment by Congress, a remarkable 65 percent of Americans approve of the way Clinton has done his job — the best end-of-career rating of any postwar president (one point ahead of Ronald Reagan).

End-of Presidency Job Approval Ratings
Bill Clinton (2001) 65%
Ronald Reagan (1989) 64
Dwight Eisenhower (1961) 59
John F. Kennedy (1963) 63
George Bush (1993) 56
Gerald Ford (1977) 53
Lyndon Johnson (1969) 49
Jimmy Carter (1981) 34
Richard Nixon (1974) 24

On some specifics Clinton's final ratings soar higher still. Sixty-seven percent say he's been a strong leader. Sixty-eight percent approve of his work on foreign affairs; on race relations, 73 percent approve; and on the economy — the mainstay of his overall approval — 76 percent endorse Clinton's performance.

Lynn Green said...

Now, as to the election claims. First, Bush didn't even get the popular vote in 2000. I believe that had the Supreme court not stepped in and stopped the recount in Florida (activist judges anyone???), Gore would have been president, and the Republic would have been saved from Bush's attack on it.

In the first election, Perot took more votes from Clinton than he did from Bush I. Perot was, after all, the anti-government candidate. Bush was the government. In the second election Perot did take votes from Clinton, fulfilling the same roll Perot did in 1992 as the anti-government candidate. However, Clinton got 49% of the vote. Had Perot not been in there, the results would have not been different. In fact, if Dole had gotten every single Perot vote, Clinton still would have won the electoral vote. A more likely outcome would be that Clinton would have received a majority.

And while we are on the subject of 3rd party candidacy, do you believe that had Ralph Nader not been around, we would not have had a President Gore, especially when you consider what happened in Florida where Nader got 97,000+ votes and Bush "won" by less than 600?

Lynn Green said...

I made a mistake in the above post. I meant to say that in the 1996 election, Perot took votes from Dole. I stand behind everything else I posted.