The CrackBerry Chronicles
With Elaine Santore
January 14, 2008
The 2008 Green Party Presidential Debate: The only debate
Despite my grave disappointment over the Golden Globes being
canceled, the change in plans opened my schedule for the Green
Party Presidential Debate at Herbst Theatre. Or, as the press
release called it: "Green Campaign 2008: A Presidential Debate
That Matters." The title reeks of snark and self-importance
and, therefore, I love it. Also, the Green Party chose Fog City
Journal publisher Luke Thomas to speak on the media panel, which
also included Larry Bensky of KPFA, Amanda Witherell of the San
Francisco Bay Guardian and Mary Ambrose of New America Media.
Green Party members and supporters packed into Herbst Theatre.
California Green Party co-founder Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi opened
Luke spent the hours leading up to the debate crafting questions
for the candidates. I looked at his list of questions and suggested
he add petro-collapse to his peak oil question. You know, because
Luke is obsessed with peak oil and petro-collapse. We've all got
our thing. My current obsessions are Vanessa Getty
Girl, and I am not ashamed.
Luke Thomas: "As president, what will do to address peak
oil and petro-collapse?"
Photo by John
Before the presidential debate began, the candidates held a press
conference with local and national media, including Current TV
and a journalist from New York. Each candidate spoke briefly and
answered questions. When presidential candidate and former Congresswoman
Cynthia McKinney saw Luke, she immediately said to him, "You
still had the recorder on when we told you to leave the room."
McKinney was, of course, referring to the fundraiser
for McKinney Fog City Journal attended last October. Luke
maintains the voice recorder was returned to him before the secret
meeting began, before supporters slapped their checkbooks on the
coffee table to encourage McKinney to officially
declare her presidential candidacy.
Meet the candidates: Kat Swift, Jared
Ball, Cynthia McKinney,
and Kent Mesplay
After meeting McKinney in October, I had the opportunity to watch
American Blackout, the 2006
documentary which chronicles McKinney's battles on Capitol Hill
when she raised questions about 9/11, the disenfranchisement of
black voters during the 2000 and 2004 elections and the unaccounted
$2.3 trillion missing from the Pentagon's books. The most poignant
quote in the documentary comes from McKinney herself, after she
re-gained her seat in 2005:
"I don't think I've demonstrated much caution since I've
come back to Washington D.C. Maybe that wasn't the smartest thing
to do. But now there's a difference. I really don't have anything
to lose. I've lost everything. They took away my job, my livelihood,
they took away my good name. So, why not stand up? Why not fight?"
We're with you, Sister McKinney!
Sister McKinney illustrates record federal spending
under the Bush Republican administration.
Did you know fiscal conservatism is a progressive ideal?
Although McKinney only recently registered as a Green, she has
been courted by the Green Party to run for president since 2004. We'll
see how well she does in the primary, but judging by the debate
alone, she appears to be a shoo-in for the California Green Party
nomination. But if the 2004
election was any indication, the Green Party nominating process
could be contentious, especially if Ralph Nader decides to enter
the race. Again. (Golf claps).
Ralph Nader signed copies of his new book, "The Good
Fight: Declare Your Independence & Close the Democracy Gap."
Nader didn't interact with any of the other presidential candidates
he's a huge diva he hasn't officially declared
himself a candidate, yet. Maybe they should have let Ralph
take a nap after he stepped off the plane. Homeslice looks beat!
Ralph Nader looking haggard.
My favorite quote from McKinney during the debate was on the
topic of party infighting, which garnered a standing ovation:
"I have never seen anything like I have seen in the Green
Party! I have to ask my constituents, people who support me, to
come and join this? I want to be proud of what I've asked
them to join, so please, come together." Seriously.
This shit is getting embarrassing!
The candidates' panel.
District 8 congressional candidate Cindy Sheehan and District
9 supervisor candidate Mark Sanchez facilitated as moderators
for the debate. Sheehan was thrilled to be asking questions for
a change, and she did an excellent job. Sanchez was pinch-hitting
for Matt Gonzalez who was originally scheduled to speak but, according
to Jim Dorenkott, couldn't attend because of a sudden bout of
food poisoning. Dorenkott said he did not know where Gonzalez
might have gotten the intestinal bug. Let's hope it wasn't at
a Golden Gate Restaurant Association eatery.
Moderators Cindy Sheehan and Mark Sanchez.
The nomination process is still up in the air, but it was clear
McKinney and Jared Ball were the two standouts in the debate.
Ball is an independent journalist, assistant professor of communications
studies at Morgan State University, and the host of FreeMix Radio: The Original Mix Tape
Radio Show FM11. Although he acknowledges that he isn't a politician,
Ball spoke passionately about mobilizing the hip-hop community
with his campaign. He expressed support for McKinney's campaign,
and emphasized that, as a black man, he isn't a minority, but
part of the majority of individuals on the planet.
Candidate Jared Ballís campaign slogan: "Ball in '08, Don't
Texas political activist and organizer Kat Swift said she was
running for president to mobilize young people and disenfranchised
voters. Swift, 34, will be old enough to run for president by
the time of the election. Despite her relative inexperience, Swift
demonstrated a broad understanding of social and economic issues.
When asked about her tactic, Swift said, "If you speak the
truth, people will vote for you."
The diversity of candidates running for the Green Party nomination
is impressive, to say the least. The other two candidates, 2004
presidential candidate Kent Mesplay and actor/filmmaker Jesse
Johnson, also demonstrated progressive values and unique perspectives
of American politics. Could the Green Party be facing the type
of change Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton
have been talking about for months? Somehow, the change I saw
onstage Sunday afternoon felt a little more sincere, and less
like political rhetoric.
Debate emcee, KPFA's Aimee Allison.
Photo by John
Pat Monk, R.N., spreading the love with his soulmate, Lisa Monk.
Congressional candidate Cindy Sheehan with campaign maestro Andy
"saving generations from the scourge of war."
Sassi Solaimani, Luke Shanas and Elaine Santore.
Luke, 12, is named after his uncle, Fog City Journal publisher
The younger Luke spent most of the debate playing with my CrackBerry
and iPod Nano.