By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
On the other side of the ledger, she led the charge to make capital punishment a Democratic as well as Republican cause célèbre; she’s the author of some superheated anti-gang legislation that today seems a bit of ’90s hysteria; she withdrew her support from Bill Clinton’s universal health program, under pressure from business lobbies, at a critical moment; she ran ads in her last Senate campaign that both reflected and fanned the anti-immigrant backlash of that year. She’s a leading backer of increasing trade ties to China (from which her husband, financier Richard Blum, made a bundle before he dropped his Chinese investments to avoid a conflict of interest).
Happily, there’s an alternative on the March ballot, a candidate we enthusiastically recommend. We do not mean to damn by faint praise when we say that Medea Benjamin is the best candidate the Green Party has thus far put forth. Both a visionary and a very effective hands-on activist, Benjamin is one of the key figures in the burgeoning movement to democratize the process of globalization, to make the creation of the brave new economy not the exclusive terrain of financial powers. Benjamin is the founding director of the human-rights organization Global Exchange, an author and activist who’s played a central role in exposing the global sweatshops and in creating the organizations that have brought this issue to public attention. An economist and nutritionist who worked for the U.N., the World Health Organization and the Swedish International Development Agency before she founded Global Exchange, she leads the organization that turned the spotlight on Nike’s use of abused, poverty-wage workers in Asia, and that helped expose the near-slavery conditions in which Saipan garment workers were forced to labor. She was a key figure in starting up the student anti-sweatshop campaign that’s swept America’s campuses, and she was one of the major leaders of the anti-WTO demonstrations in Seattle last November. From outside the Senate, she’s already done more to create a more just and livable planet than about 97 of the members inside the Senate.
Of course, if Feinstein falters and her likely Republican opponent, Tom Campbell, climbs in the polls — where she currently leads him by nearly 40 percent — a realpolitik factor may kick in this fall which, at this point, seems fairly superfluous. But it’s a long, long time from March to November, and in the primary we’re enthusiastically supporting Medea Benjamin for U.S. senator.
UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE
24th District — Brad Sherman
Democrat Brad Sherman is seeking his third term in this West Valley seat. Sherman’s a reasonably progressive Democrat — about as progressive as this district can bear — and has done a yeoman’s job securing funds to acquire more land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, and slowing down the rush to build a large housing tract on the Ahmanson Ranch near Woodland Hills. He has our clear support.
26th District — Howard Berman
If anyone personifies the split personality of much of the Democratic Party on matters of economic world-view — capitalist on global economics, laborist on domestic economics — it’s Howard Berman, the veteran Democratic congressman from this mid-Valley district. Berman’s one of the few free-trade diehards in the L.A. delegation. At the same time, he’s also the key member of Congress helping the United Farm Workers in their fight against the re-imposition of the bracero “guest worker” program, the leading House strategist to increase funding for Legal Services, a leader in the cause of protecting online privacy, and the most powerful House member to press the cause of immigrant rights. In the past couple of years, he’s used his clout and his smarts for causes ranging from funding the Hansen Dam recreational facilities to advancing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. His value and virtues far outweigh what, from our perspective, is his free-trade deviation from everything else that he’s about.
27th District — Adam Schiff
Adam Schiff, a former criminal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, has represented most of this Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena district in the state Senate for the past four years, where he’s authored and pushed to enactment some notable consumer, labor and environmental legislation. He’s our clear choice over incumbent Republican Congressman James Rogan, but let’s be straight about this: Anyone selected at random off the street would be our clear choice over incumbent Republican Congressman James Rogan.
The issue isn’t just that Rogan represents this increasingly Democratic and non-white district with a voting record suitable to Orange County in the ’50s. It isn’t just that he opposes a woman’s right to choose, or restrictions on tobacco companies, or campaign-finance reform, or linking trade treaties to a minimum observance of human rights and environmental standards from the signatory nation (all policies that Schiff supports). It isn’t just that he masquerades as a moderate in his district, when in fact he’s a right-wing zealot on the Hill.
The issue, of course, is that Rogan played a starring role in the impeachment travesty he and his colleagues inflicted on the nation a year ago. As one of the most rabid members of the House Judiciary Committee, he argued that releasing the Starr Report didn’t go far enough, that the committee should have also released even more salacious material than Henry Hyde was willing to put on the Internet. As a House prosecutor in the Senate trial, he argued for calling more witnesses than the Republican senators, or even his fellow House prosecutors, could abide. Few people are more responsible for putting the nation through a totally avoidable partisan jihad than Rogan. America hasn’t seen such a combination of puritanical zeal and legalistic hogwash since the Salem Witch Trials. James Rogan does not deserve to sit in Congress, or any other body that requires of its members a scintilla of judgment and good sense.
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