Friday, June 26, 2015

Nonviolence & the Road to Independence

Each year, as fireworks celebrate the Declaration of Independence and people discuss how the United States began, the spotlight normally turns to “revolutionary” leaders and the “armed struggle” waged more than two centuries ago. But as usual, the real story is a bit different. The movement toward independence in the “new world” actually began a decade before the “shot heard round the world” and involved thousands of people. By the time things turned violent, substitute governments and firm alliances were operating in nine colonies.

Early colonial campaigns weren’t mere passive pleading. They were demands, backed by nonviolent actions that forced Britain to change its laws. Through economic boycott and the development of new government structures, John Dickinson wrote in 1767, colonists could pressure parliament by “withholding from Britain all the advantages they get from us.” One pamphlet circulating at the time urged colonists to “bid defiance to tyranny by exposing its impotence.”

Many colonists were already following this advice, refusing to comply with the new Stamp Act, a direct tax on all sorts of licenses, publications and legal papers, by resisting use of the stamps. According to Britain, the duty would be used to finance British troops “protecting” colonists from Indian “hostility” and French expansionism. Resistance began even before the Act was official. This grassroots movement, which essentially nullified the law, involved a massive refusal to import British goods and the beginning of economic self-sufficiency in North America.

The forms of political defiance and direct action included civil disobedience and, in some cases, threats aimed at stamp distributors. No one was killed, but the threats and scattered attacked on property were effective deterrents. By November all the stamp distributors resigned, while ports and newspapers remained open despite the absence of stamps. Debts to British merchants were left unpaid. The Rhode Island Assembly resolved that only colonists could tax colonists. In order to avoid mass prosecution of resisters, however, George Washington advised that colonial courts be closed.

Despite the absence of violence, the threat to British rule was obvious. Power was swiftly being diffused through many substitute governments. Town meetings took to passing laws that were more widely obeyed than British regulations. By early 1768 more than four million pounds was owed to Britain’s merchants, who pressured the King and parliament for action. The Stamp Act was repealed, but Britain simultaneously proclaimed that the right to tax the colonies still and would always exist. What couldn’t be defended on the ground was brandished on paper.

The Townshend Acts, a 1768 attempt by new British Prime Minister Charles Townshend to impose an external levy, met just as much resistance. The new Acts placed a tax on imported goods such as lead, paint, paper, glass, and tea. This time it wasn’t merchants who initiated the campaign but mechanics, artisans and workers. The main method was non-consumption, along with development of economic alternatives along self-sufficient lines. When goods weren’t bought and those on household shelves weren’t used, merchants were forced not to import the boycotted items. Within a year the Massachusetts legislature denounced the law, calling for united action, and Virginia voted for strict non-importation, notifying other colonies of its decision.

Non-importation put a squeeze on British merchants until the Acts died in 1770. But this time Britain was a bit more clever: All taxes - except the duty on tea – were repealed. Falling short of total victory the colonists became divided about the success of their campaign. In the confusion resistance disintegrated as Britain doggedly held onto its right to tax.

Despite the setback colonial fervor persisted in other resistance efforts. The Committees of Correspondence, established years earlier as underground governments, maintained a network for expressions of solidarity, protests, mutual aid, and new ideas. In 1773, Britain provided the catalyst to test these emerging organs of popular power.

The East India Company, an early international monopoly, was in financial trouble. To help the influential business, Britain’s parliament passed an Act controlling prices in order to give East India a colonial monopoly. The law manipulated the market so that even smuggled tea was more expensive. The Boston Tea Party was an early response; Bostonians in Indian garb dumped 342 chests of tea overboard. Britain responded by closing the Port of Boston and increasing repression.

The colonies mobilized, helped by their previous experiences with united action and Paul Revere’s rides to “give you all the news.” Many communities – New York, Philadelphia, Charlestown, Wilmington and Baltimore among them – pledged moral and economic support. Money, rice and sheep flooded into Massachusetts as Britain tried to undermine self-government.

Defying Britain, a Massachusetts Town Meeting resolved to cut off imports and exports, and called again for economic boycott. Revere rode to New York and Philadelphia with news of the Suffolk Resolves, soon adopted by the Continental Congress. All coercive laws were unconstitutional, the Congress had ruled, and are not to be obeyed. People were urged to form their own governments and deny taxes to the so-called “legal” governments in their regions.

Although the Resolves raised the possibility of war, the thrust remained nonviolent – boycott, tax resistance, non-importation (sometimes including slaves), and development of substitute local governments. The Continental Association, formed at the end of 1774, incorporated these approaches and added legal enforcement of “non-intercourse” along the lines used earlier in Virginia.

As this brief review suggests, the movement for US independence emerged from the grassroots, from people in neighborhoods and communities, colonists who made personal commitments and participated in hunger strikes, non-consumption and other heroic acts of resistance. It was an enormous and sustained struggle, one of many nonviolent campaigns that have profoundly influenced world history, although “official” accounts rarely give them recognition.

Civil resistance – also known as “nonviolent action” or “people power” – has proven effective, though not always successful on its own, in many colonial rebellions, struggles for labor, civil and women’s rights, campaigns to resist genocide and dictatorship, and other battles for independence and freedom. Indian nationalists used it in their struggle against British domination, various European countries used it to resist Nazi occupation, dissidents in Communist-ruled countries used it to increase freedom – and ultimately end dictatorships in Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. "Arab Spring" uprisings in the Mid-East and North Africa used the same tactics.

These movements weren’t passive or submissive, and most of the people involved weren’t pacifists, saints or natural leaders. They were ordinary people in extraordinary situations, using diverse methods – from protests and vigils to the creation of parallel or “de facto” governments – to challenge and ultimately overturn illegitimate authority. In the American colonies two centuries ago, people were well on their way to winning the War of Independence before the shooting even started. There are clearly lessons here for the domestic and global struggles we face today.

Happy Independence Day!

To learn more about recent nonviolent struggles and the potential of civil resistance, consult the work of Gene Sharp, founder of the Albert Einstein Institution, author of Waging Nonviolent Struggle and other books.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Why Jane Sanders Left Burlington College

Almost four years after Jane Sanders unexpectedly left Burlington College, the reasons for her departure remain a closely-held secret. According to Sanders, the decision to resign the presidency in September 2011 was the result of differences with the trustees over the college’s direction and future. 
A press release issued by the school at the time revealed little, mainly that she would step down on Oct. 14, and gave no further explanation. It was later revealed that she received a $200,000 severance package. In the years since most Board members have declined to comment. A new article in the weekly Seven Days explores the issue and whether it could affect Bernie Sanders presidential ambitions. But there is more to the story.
Jane Sanders was Burlington College president for seven years. But the $10 million purchase of property owned by the Catholic Diocese in 2010, combined with rising tuition and difficulties expanding enrollment, intensified financial, management and academic pressures at the school.
A few months before her departure, when the school gathered to honor the 34 members of its 2011 graduating class at the new campus, Sanders revealed that the man who brokered the land deal with the Roman Catholic Diocese was real estate mogul Antonio Pomerleau. In fact, Sanders claimed that Pomerleau was the only person who could have done it. 
A prominent local Catholic, Pomerleau had been a prime target of Bernie Sanders’ political attacks when he first became Burlington mayor. But things changed over the years. Pomerleau and the Sanders family eventually became friends. “He understands relationships,” Sanders said of Pomerleau at the graduation ceremonies. “Not just ‘who you know,’ but an understanding that leads to a reputation, and to trust.”
As a result of more than two dozen lawsuits, the Catholic Diocese was on the hook for $17.65 million in settlements. Its property initially went on the market for $12.5 million. Pomerleau provided a $500,000 loan to the college to help close the deal. The final price was $10 million, an amount that some developers considered high. According to a source at the People's United Bank, Sanders persuaded bank officials that she could raise the money, but didn't provide the names of potential donors.
Sanders, wife of the famous senator who is currently running for president, had hoped to continue as college president until 2016. But negotiations over a new contract stalled as doubts emerged about her plans and fundraising. In August 2011, the board voted to negotiate an early exit package.
Details of the special meeting of the Board of Trustees at which the agreement was finally reached have never been revealed. But the agenda did indicate that the trustees had gathered at the Sheraton specifically to discuss the “removal of the president.” During the session lawyers for Sanders and the college evidently reached a settlement that included her resignation in three weeks, the title of President Emeritus and a year-long-paid sabbatical.
The offcial announcement of Sanders' departure claimed that the purchase of the college’s new campus created opportunities to “significantly grow the student body and fully realize the expansion of academic programs." But her plan to double enrollment before the end of the decade would be tough to achieve, and millions of dollars would be needed to complete the new campus renovations. Neither goal proved to be reachable.
Prior to becoming the school's president in 2004, Sanders had worked as campaign manager for her husband. Her credentials also included a stint running Goddard College and almost a decade as head of youth services for Burlington, mainly during the Sanders administration.
In 2005 she said that increasing student numbers was vital because tuition dollars would help pay for the overall plan she was developing. As it turned out, tuition dollars rose but the number of students didn’t. The college was also mindful of its mission to stay small, she claimed. In 2006, however, she announced a $6 million expansion plan. The initial idea was to build a three-story structure next to the school's building on North Avenue.
Hired at about the same salary as her predecessor, President Sanders received salary bumps for the next five years, ultimately topping $150,000 in 2009. During the same period tuition rose by more than $5,000 while enrollment dipped to 156 students.
By 2008, students and faculty were openly expressing frustration, especially after the dismissal of popular literature professor Genese Grill. Students, faculty and staff said that the environment at the school had become toxic and disruptive. In interviews, many blamed Sanders and decried what was described as a “crisis of leadership." More than two dozen faculty and staff left the school during her tenure, according to then-Student Government President Joshua Lambert.
The American Association of University Professors, which became aware of the problem, noted that Burlington College lacked a grievance policy for faculty, an omission considered “quite unusual.” At the time Robert Kreiser, program officer in AAUP’s department of academic freedom, tenure and governance, told Seven Days, “A faculty member should have the right to speak out about actions and policies at his or her own college.” He offered to help Sanders draft a new policy but she declined.
Once word circulated that Sanders would be leaving, bitterness and hope resurfaced in emails and website comments.
The Board of Trustees consistently declined to comment, in part due to confidentiality rules. But its official announcement did claim that Sanders would “consult with the college” on fundraising and other issues as the board developed “an interim leadership plan” and searched for a new president. Sanders promised to remain “involved with the college forever.” Neither she nor the college followed through on that plan.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Taking Charge: Bernie Sanders' First Term

The race didn't look serious at first. Democrat Gordon Paquette was running for an unprecedented sixth term as Burlington mayor. Restaurant owner Richard Bove had opted for an Independent bid after losing the caucus. Joseph McGrath, a relative unknown, was also in the race as a Northender concerned about crime. And former Liberty Union candidate Bernie Sanders was piecing together an Independent coalition.

Doonesbury, July 1981
The 1981 ballot was crowded: a referendum on waterfront access, a nuclear freeze advisory vote, and a 10 percent property tax increase, among other items. But Paquette blocked an article asking voters whether to separate two road projects -- the northern and southern connectors -- so that the northern route could be finished first. A Fair Housing Commission proposal was delayed at the last minute, with the promise of a special election later.

On March 3, things turned out differently than anyone predicted. After rapidly gaining credibility, winning neighborhood allies and receiving the police union endorsement, Sanders squeaked to victory. But he hardly knew a soul in City Hall and would have just two allies on the City Council.

His campaign literature urged, "It's time for a change." At his first post-victory press conference, he added, "No more boring meetings."

Month One: The Pomerleau project for the waterfront came under fire as the new mayor took office in April. The Council meanwhile declared a hiring freeze due to the defeat of the local tax increase, and two different housing commission items were placed on a special election ballot.

Sanders set up task forces to develop ideas and used a personal braintrust to look for ways out of the fiscal bind. Most councilors were cool to this new presence in city government, and greeted him in early April by firing his new secretary because he had failed to go through the proper channels. She was soon reinstated.

May-June -- Confrontation Politics: Although Sanders had run on a "no tax increase" platform, he found that a five percent increase was the best he could do. It was one of the few times that he and the Council majority agreed. On Reorganization Day, they even parted company on his nominees for key city posts, initially rejecting future City Clerk James Rader and Assistant City Attorney John Franco -- without asking for their qualifications. For Sanders this was an obvious sign that the Council planned to stonewall his administration.

In late April, the two housing initiatives were both defeated, largely thanks to a scare campaign, funded by local landlords, that brought in California consultant Bernie Walp. Despite demands from neighborhood groups the Planning Commission was sticking with its municipal development plans. Further fueling divisions an anonymous publication, The Flea Press, covertly circulated slanderous commentary through official channels.

Eventually, the Council did approve two Sanders appointments, Steve Goodkind as Health and Safety Director, and David Clavelle as head of Civil Defense. But Sanders would have to keep working with key Paquette aides like Frank Wagner and Lee Austin.

Summer -- Digging in: Bernie was making a name for himself with TV appearances, print features, even a July 5 Doonesbury strip. At home his biggest success was organizing a series of successful concerts in Battery Park. Meanwhile, he began a dialogue with the university and hospital officials and testified against a 30 percent Blue Cross rate hike. He also learned enough about the proposed McNeil wood chip plant to support its construction -- despite the arguments of environmental activists.

A campaign to organize retail workers was launched, toxic muck in the barge canal blocked progress on the southern connector, and the city's urban renewal developer demanded (and received) a property tax break based on citywide appraisal inequities. Sanders actively supported the retail workers drive, especially when a local lawyer began advising business owners on how to combat unionization. Both the campaign and opposition eventually faded away.

Sanders was becoming effective but clashes with the Council majority persisted. By September his allies were busy planning a strong challenge in the next Town Meeting Day council races. His two supporters on the City Council -- Independent Sadie White and Terry Bouricius, who had won as a Citizens Party candidate -- needed more allies.

  • Watching the returns in 1982, with Jane Sanders to Bernie's left.

Fall -- Before the storm: Although voices were lowered, the City Council's monthly budget review remained a challenge to the patience of all involved. The Flea Press vanished once its author, pollster Vincent Naramore, was discovered. But the atmosphere in City Hall was still tense.

In September Sanders unilaterally appointed his partner Jane Driscoll as Youth Coordinator, a new "volunteer" position that would be funded by having Driscoll seek money from foundations and grants.

Near the end of the year a questionable letter by City Clerk Wagner raised new questions about the funding of the southern connector. Meanwhile, a voter registration drive by the Citizens Party and Sanders supporters prompted the Voter Registration Board to impose new restrictive rules. Campaign '82 had begun.

Council Upset: Citizens Party and Sanders backers formed the Coalition for Responsible Government to develop a unified slate of candidates. The result was a crop of Council and School Board hopefuls that covered every ward, plus more competition for minor offices than the city had ever seen.

Local election experts doubted that Rik Musty and Zoe Breiner could defeat incumbent Democrats Joyce Desautels and Russell Niquette. But the Council majority had alienated voters by blocking Sanders; "give the mayor the chance to do his job" became a persuasive campaign theme. Over 100 volunteers canvassed the city with tabloid newspapers and staged an impressive get-out-the-vote effort.

Days before the election the Superior Court ordered the Voter Board to add all newly registered voters to the checklist. In Montpelier, an attempt to revoke Burlington's right to impose a Gross Receipts Tax turned into a "home rule" victory and PR plus for the Sanders team.

When the votes were tallied, there were now five Sanders supporters on the Council, along with five Republicans. After the runoffs, the Democrats were left with just three votes and Sanders had the ability to sustain a veto.

A New Broom: Tax reform had been Bernie's promise. In 1982 he tried to deliver. But his Gross Receipts proposal was narrowly defeated in June, again thanks to consultant Bernie Walp.

The city's new treasurer Jonathan Leopold and his assistant Barr Wright (later Swennerfelt) phased in a cash management system, central purchasing, and other innovations that improved the local financial picture. City Clerk James Rader started a city-sponsored voter registration drive. Housing inspection picked up and the mayor set up an economic development committee that included business leaders and his own people.

Some Democrats remained unimpressed. Writing to Rutland mayor John Daley, State Senator Thomas Crowley warned his colleague to "watch this group from Burlington." Opposition to the southern connector was just a front, Crowley wrote, and "they have apparently targeted Rutland as Bernie Sandersville number 2."

Nevertheless, the Sanders administration was not turning out to be the radical regime predicted. Instead, Sanders was courting city workers, a move that angered many department heads. And he was opening City Hall to various groups that hadn't previously been welcome. Workers' Pride Week in late September was an attempt to increase the self-respect of working people. In general, however, Sanders' team spent its greatest effort refining city management and saving money.

More progressive initiatives were proposed, things like rejection of crisis relocation planning, establishment of neighborhood assemblies as advisory bodies on matters such as community development, and contributions from tax-exempt institutions like UVM. The Council sometimes agreed, at least in principle, realizing that too much obstruction was not in anyone's best interest.

Toward the end of 1982, as people began to focus on the next mayoral race, Sanders announced that his team had discovered a $1.9 million surplus. Auditors were hauled in for a special Council session. The surplus turned out to be real. It had been growing for years without official notice.

Not much was happening on the waterfront. Pomerleau and friends were backing off their plans due to public skepticism. But Sanders' proposal to implement interim zoning under Council control failed to win GOP or Democratic support. The mayor had successfully blocked the condo and hotel plan, as promised, but no alternative had emerged.

In less than two years local politics had been transformed. Burlington had a three-party system -- with some hazy dividing lines. Some Democrats were moving into the Republican camp, others were supporting Sanders programs or the mayor himself. Hundreds of people were participating in various councils and neighborhood meetings. And the whole state watched with increasing fascination.

Sometimes Council sessions were still boring, but not often, and especially not once the electoral battle for City Hall began again.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Will Sanders' BFF Democrat stick with him?

In 1984 Peter Welch was already a fan and urged Mayor Bernie Sanders to seek higher office

It should come as no shock that Vermont's leading Democrats are lining up with Hillary Clinton for president, despite the emergence of Bernie Sanders as a contender. The list of prominent Clinton backers in Vermont so far includes Governor Peter Shumlin, Sen. Patrick Leahy, former governor (and 2004 presidential candidate) Howard Dean, and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, whom Sanders endorsed in 2012.

Welch to Sanders: "Perhaps another day."

In a way, it's understandable. For decades Sanders was a thorn in the party's side. In 1974, he ran against Leahy as a Liberty Union candidate, in the race that first put the young Chittenden County prosecutor in the Senate. In 1981, Sanders defeated a five-term incumbent Democratic mayor, Gordon Paquette, ushering in almost 30 years of Progressive-led government. 

In 1986, he ran against Vermont's first female governor, Democrat Madeleine Kunin. 

After Sanders entered Congress, he and top Democrats did find a way to co-exist, developed mutual respect, and sometimes collaborated on projects.  But one leading Vermont Democrat is absent from the Clinton list -- and maintained a cordial, supportive relationship with Sanders from the start -- Rep. Peter Welch. 

In 1984, Sanders was in his second term as mayor and thinking about another run for governor; he had run as a third party candidate in 1972 and 1976. Welch had become a state senator. But Sanders decided to stand aside and consolidate locally. On April 3, 1984, shortly after the local Progressive coalition made gains in City Council races, Welch, who lived on the other side of the state, sent a hand-written note of congratulations and urged Sanders on.

"Congratulations on your recent victories. Perhaps your opponents have come to the reluctant conclusion that the politics of obstruction doesn't work," Welch wrote. "While I understand your recent decision," he continued, referring to the decision not to run for governor, "many had looked forward to your campaign. Perhaps another day."

A few days later, Sanders wrote back, recapping the local victories and telegraphing his plan to focus on education as a priority. "I am sure we will be talking," he concluded.

Vermont's Mt. Rushmore - Welch, Sanders and Leahy

In 1990, Sanders helped convince Welch to run for governor -- instead of the US House of Representatives. Sanders wanted to make a second bid for the office, having come close in 1988. Sanders won, launching a three-decade congressional career. Welch lost and returned to the state senate. But the two remained allies. When Sanders became a US Senator in 2006, Welch succeeded him in the US House.

Leahy endorsed Clinton more than a year ago, long before she officially announced. According to NBC, at least 29 out of the 44 sitting Democratic senators have already endorsed Clinton in some form. Asked recently about his presidential preference, however, Welch said it's still too early to choose between Clinton and Sanders. But he spoke glowingly about Sanders' courage and looked forward to the debates. Perhaps that other day he wrote about is still ahead.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Presidential Death Match: Past Hits & Misses

Films and TV programs mentioned: For a Few Barrels More, Post-Millennium Man, The Mild Bunch, You Go, Girl!, Wesley Clark's Full Mental Jacket, Terminator 4: The Last Action Mayor, There Will Be God, The Rad Couple II, Return of the Candidate, Being Mike Huckabee, and Mission Improbable

Every four years it's the same sad mixture of sequels and remakes, worn-out story lines and stale formulas known collectively as Presidential Death Match programming. In 2004, for example, you may not have heard but George Bush and Charlton Heston were slated to team up for Fistful of Mullah II: The Arms Race, a sequel to Bush’s 2000 hit, A Fistful of Mullah. The new story line was expected to revolve around bringing compassion back into the death business. But Heston died in pre-production and a more powerful premise emerged. The result:

For a Few Barrels More   The Man with No Scruples (Bush) is back in this epic western sequel, set in an atmosphere of global war and domestic division. The Man prevails by ignoring the problems, preferring to search for illusive (aka non-existent) enemies, the Evildoers, foes so insane they reject his offer to surrender their oil reserves and get off the planet. (AMC, in technicolor)

Post-Millennium Man  Howard Dean leads a cyber-crusade to save the Democratic Party, driven underground by the masters of the Matrix. In an early scene, Al Gore reprises his role as the Chosen One (now in exile) from the sci fi hit Millennium Man, uniting with Bill Bradley and other survivors of the 2000 electoral apocalypse. There were strong early reviews, but hostile notices from Iowa set the stage for a meltdown. (Sci Fi, mini-series)

The Mild Bunch   Battle-scarred congressional vets – John Kerry, Dick Gephardt, and Joe Lieberman – are joined by a gung-ho rookie, the glib and glamorous John Edwards. Their mission: save their party from Howard Dean, here cast in the role of a renegade general who has created his own insurgent army, the Deaniacs. In an early episode, Gephardt sings Yesterday, exposing the depth of his disillusionment as he confesses to being “nostalgic for Ronald Reagan.” In their Iowa caper, he is the first casualty. Once Dean is vanquished, however, the bunch promptly turns on one another. (Spike)

You Go, Girl!  A short-lived Carol Mosley Braun vehicle, based on Working Girl. In this comedy-drama, Braun makes a bold, occasionally refreshing play to break the glass ceiling. She can’t close the deal but does manage a partial redemption. (Lifetime)

And a late entry: Wesley Clark’s Full Mental Jacket  A cautionary anti-war tale about the rise of rebellious general. After leading the attack on Yugoslavia and pimping for Team Bush, the general has second thoughts, becomes a Democrat, and immediately runs for President. With cameos by Michael Moore and George McGovern as progressive camouflage. Industry talk said that it was actually a Clinton production. (Cinemax)

In 2008 there were more memorable hits and misses... 

Terminator 4: The Last Action Mayor (from 9/11 Productions)  Rudy Giuliani attempts to bull his way into the nomination by scaring the public as often as possible and bypassing the early primaries. Unfortunately, he doesn’t send a duplicate Rudy back from the future to warn him that it won’t work. (Fox)

There Will Be God   Mitt Romney plays a no-nonsense manager with religious baggage, unnervingly confident and yet undone by his chameleon past. We keep waiting for the real Mitt to show up, but in the end even he can’t find himself. (HBO)

The Rad Couple II, starring Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul. It’s become a genre over the decades, usually based on the feisty outsider story line. In 2000, Kucinich teamed up with Al Sharpton for the first installment of the franchise – buddy-pols on the road to nowhere. Forced to work together, two very different candidates find common ground as they take on their toughest case – saving the country’s soul. Kucinich and Sharpton were amusing and passionate, but the reviews were skeptical. The ratings were abysmal. (ABC)

But the best comeback vehicle may have been Return of the Candidate  A lightweight in the 2004 season, John Edwards exceeds expectations, yet can’t overcome his image as a southern fried Robert Redford. The reality TV follow up gets a little too real. (Sundance)

Best mini-series? Being Mike Huckabee   Based on a Jerzy Kosinski book and a Peter Sellers movie, a spaced-out oddball keeps getting listened to because people think he’s pleasant and has some down-home wisdom. He actually knows very little and has a mean streak; But he really likes being on TV. The joke gets old and people stop watching. (VH1)

This season they’re bringing Magical Mike back, this time with a quirky Charlie Kaufman script; various people go through a portal into Huckabee's head, then get dumped on a dirt road in rural Arkansas.

And finally, who can forget that 2000 cult hit...? 

Mission Improbable   Produced by Oddball Enterprises in association with a consortium of casino owners and the World Wrestling Federation. To save the world, a team of decorated misfits wages psychological warfare on the major political parties. The problem: they can't stop trashing each other. Ross Perot makes a guest appearance as the cranky team leader who gives incomprehensible assignments and can't help upstaging his own men. (CBS)

So, stay tuned. The new season is just getting started.