Saturday, June 28, 2008

Congress, Ralph Nader

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "A Flunky Scorned"


I had mentioned Tuesday that I would repost Isaiah's comic but, Wednesday, I was focused on Barack's attack on Ralph Nader. It's good that I waited.

In that comic, Isaiah has Harriet Miers declare that since they didn't want her on the Supreme Court, she's not going to testify before Congress. While that is a joke, it became true in that Miers has never been forced to testify to Congress about her part in Attorney-Gate. All this time later, she has still not been forced to testify.

When a White House flunkie gets to ignore Congress, we don't have a working Congress. If you doubt that, read C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" from Thursday for the comments about what happened when Yoo and Addignton showed up to disrespect Congress and how Congress, unprepared, just took it.

There's no excuse for that, not at this late date. They should have been prepared and they damn sure should have cited Yoo and Addington with contempt. But we don't have a functioning Congress. We have a bunch of scared bunnies, desperate to be re-elected. Desperate to do nothing. Over and over.

Which is why they didn't end the illegal war in 2007 or 2008. They had the power. They could have filibustered. 'Leadership' could have enforced votes. But it wasn't important to them so the illegal war drags on. Get used to that because until they're forced to do something, the illegal war will continue to drag on.

Equally amazing is how we have allowed them to do this.

When they make promises they don't keep and our behavior signals that we are okay with that, we're asking for "Nothing But Heartaches," to cite an old Diana Ross & the Supremes song. ("He makes promises he doesn't keep, sometimes I don't see him all week . . .")

Which is another strong reason to vote for Ralph Nader.

Along with what Nader stands for, which most of us agree with, there's the fact that a vote for Nader makes it clear to the Democratic Party that they are not the only game in town and that they need to move further to the left. (Or even to the left.)

I honestly think Ralph Nader can get elected to the White House. I think that for a number of reasons that I will outline in a moment. But it is also true that a vote for Ralph sends a message -- it's a stronger message than any e-mail or phone call to your members of Congress.

Here's why I think Nader has a shot.

1) Barack was already running to the right and will only go more so to the right.

2) Don't believe the hype, Hillary supporters are not lining up behind Barack. If only 5% refuse to do so (and currently the figure is much higher), Barack will lose. The Dems can convince themselves that swing voters can help! But the reality is that they have pissed off the base. Swing voters are the "one" to the "guest plus one" invite. You have to have the "guest" (the base) to add onto, to build onto. Without them, you're in danger.

3) Ralph Nader will bring out voters who wouldn't vote otherwise. You have two War Parties. You have a nation opposed to the illegal war. Ralph Nader provides many who might otherwise not vote with a reason to show up.

4) Don't understimate that number. Critiques about our two War Parties are much stronger now than they were in 2000. Remember all Democrats except Barack wanted the Iraq War. What's that? Well, that's the lie he ran on, wasn't it? Didn't he trash Democrats in every debate saying they had been wrong and only he, the Christ-child, was right. So Barack's hideous campaign actually supported some points (to build himself up) that were being made in 2000.

5) With a GOP nominee, a Democratic nominee, Bob Barr, Ralph Nader and presumably Cynthia McKinney in the race, it's going to be interesting. There will be other campaigns across the country and surely some write-ins. But there will be five high profile candidates. To win, the winner will have to secure a lower percentage than in past years.

6) There is a Nader outrage building. "Nader outrage" is my term for this nonsense about Barack. Young people in 2000 worked their butts off for Nader, a candidate who stood for something and took positions. They are dismayed to see the Mickey Mouse Club pretend Barack's got anything to offer and to see these e-activists passing themselves off as genuine ones. Where I get coffee each morning (a non-chain), this has become a very big issue with the Generation X crowd that goes there. Their talks tend to gather a really loud crowd. Friday morning, I was actually early enough (yes, I resorted to a pony tail to get out the door, I wasn't in the mood to spend time fixing my hair) to get my coffee and to speak with them. I asked, "Are you campaigning for Nader?" I quickly explained I was supporting Nader. But I pointed out that for the last two weeks, I have heard them discussing "the Obama kiddie patrol." Their offense seemed to be growing with every day as well as their numbers. The response was a blank stare for a few seconds and then one of them said, "You know what, that's what I'm going to do." (Others said the same.) The difference was that they were no longer in college (where free time is greater than when you are in the work force) and it was eight years ago that they were hitting the streets for Nader. So they were doing what we all do, which is grouse and complain (and it is our right to do that) but now they're going to put some action behind that. I don't believe that I stumbled upon an isolated pocket of civilization at my local coffee house. I think the Nader supporters of 2000 have had enough crap. I think they've had it with 8 years of blame and I think they've had it with what C.I.'s labeled the "hope-ium" of Barack and this so-called 'youth-driven' campaign he has.

So for those and other reasons, I feel very comfortable about Ralph Nader's chances. But I won't regret my vote should he lose. I'll also be very kind and not blame the Barack voters for Nader's loss if it happens.

But Nader's the real change agent. Not Barack.

Barack, on CNN June 5th, reveled that his Iraq 'plan' if he becomes president is to get into the White House and then decide what to do. So all of this 'We want to end the war!' shouts he does to cheers and applause is nonsense. His 'promise' to end the illegal war is b.s. He's not opposed to the illegal war. He just wants to get into office. Barack's campaign is based on fan club membership. Raph Nader's asking people to participate and promising what he'd do if elected.

There's a world of difference between Ralph Nader and Barack Obama. Barack and John McCain? Not a lot of difference except that McCain has a record (which can be used in favor of him or used against him).

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, June 27, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the deporation clock ticks down for Corey Glass, another Iraqi judge is assassinated, MTV accepts political advertisements . . . or at least some, and more.

Starting with war resistance.
Iraq Veterans Against the War Matthis Chiroux remains in the news. Chiroux announced June 15th that he would not report to duty (as he'd stated he wouldn't on May 15th). South Carolina's WIS News 10 reported on some reactions yesterday (link has text and video):

David Stanton: Being called to deploy? It is a possibility that all of South Carolina's bravest face but the refusal of one soldier to go to Iraq has many military members talking. Sgt. Mathhis Chiroux was honorably discharged about a year ago. He served in Germany, Japan, Afghanistan and the Phillipines. Chiroux was then called back to duty for service in Iraq. But Chiroux says he will not report to Fort Jackson as ordered. As Trey Paul found out some have a hard time supporting the decision.

Mst. Sgt. Gary Villanueva: My father always taught me that a handshake was a man's honor. And signing on the dotted line is equivalent to a handshake. And s-s-so if they made that comitment I believe they should honor it and if they didn't, quite frankly, I question them as a man.

Trey Paul: We asked and Mst. Sgt. Gary Villanueva did not hold back.

Gary Villanueva: Maybe it's best if they don't come into the military because that type of person I would really question my . . . uh . . . back half of my life. And then protecting me or any other individuals I fight with.

Trey Paul: When it comes to a soldier who doesn't complete a military contract lets just say Villanueva doesn't agree

Gary Villanueva: I-I-I uh really think that uh there subject to the punishment that the military law stipulates because they signed a contract.

Trey Paul: Villanueva is one of several soldiers here at Fort Jackson taking part in the IRR -- that's the Individual Ready Reserve. It's the same type of program that Sgt. Matthis Chiroux was required to attend. Other reservists like Sgt. Nolze don't agree with Chiroux either but he thinks he understands where Chiroux's coming from.

Specialist Joshua Nolze: Up until a couple of years ago the military never really used IRR and they told you when you signed the contract, 'Don't really worry about it. You're not going to get called up.' Now days, it's a different story, different world. You're getting called up so it's something you've got to think about before you sign up.

Trey Paul: The IRR works like this: As a soldier you always sign at least an eight-year contract. Most spend at least two of those years serving active duty. The remainder of the contract is spent in some form of the reserves. Mostly the IRR. First Sgt. Reid is helping train these reservists.

1st Sgt. Michael Reid: I also have mixed feelings because some of these young fellows have already been two or three times and probably don't want to go back.

Trey Paul: Since 9-11 a spokesman for the national IRR says Chiroux is just one of seven-hundred who have been a no-show

Gary Villanueva: Whether I agree or disagree with this war is im-imaterial. But one thing I'm soli- I'm sure of, that there are servicemen overseas that need support and that's why I'm coming back to support them.

Trey Paul: At Fort Jackson, Trey Paul, WIS News 10.

IVAW notes:

How you can help:
Contact your congressional representatives and ask them to publicly support Matthis.
Contribute to IVAW's legal defense fund to help Matthis and other resisters.
Send a message of support to Sgt Matthis Chiroux at
Find out more about Matthis Chiroux.

Moving to Canada, "I'm refusing to kill innocent people and I'm the one waiting to go to prison and they're the ones setting us up to commit war crimes and they go free," US war resister Ryan Johnson explains to Bill Kaufmann in "
Writing on wall for deserters" (The Calgary Sun). Ryan and his wife Jenna Johnson moved to Canada in June 2005. Johnson notes that if a war resister is deported in July, he would most likely be the next one. May 21st was when Corey Glass was told he would be deported. Corey Glass is an Iraq War veteran and a US war resister. He went to Canada seeking asylum -- the kind of welcoming Canada provided to war resisters ("draft dodgers" and "deserters") during Vietnam. After being told he was being deported, he's been 'extended' through July 10th. June 3rd Canada's House of Commons voted (non-binding motion) in favor of Canada being a safe harbor for war resisters. Douglas Glynn (The Barrie Examiner) quotes Corey stating, "The motion is not legally binding, though the majority of Parliament voted for it. I realized innocent people were being killed. I tried to quit the military while in Iraq," he said, "but my commander told me I was just stressed out and needed some R and R (rest and relaxation), because I was doing a job I was not trained to do. I went home on leave and said I was not coming back." Ryan also notes the motion and points to the apparent dismissal of it by Stephan Harper (prime minister of Canada) wondering, "He ran on a platform of democratic reform -- he should take some advice of his own."

War Resisters Support Campaign will hold a "Rally to Stop the Deportation of Parkdale Resident Corey Glass" July 3rd, begins at 7:00 p.m. (with doors opening at six p.m.) at the May Robinson Building, 20 West Lodge, Toronto: "In 2002, Corey joined the Indiana National Guard. He was told he would not have to fight on foreign shores. But in 2005 he was sent to Iraq. What he saw there caused him to become a conscientious objector and he came to Canada. On May 21, 2008, he got his final order to leave Canada by July 10, 2008. Then on June 3 Parliament passed a motion for all the war resisters to stay in Canada. However the Harper government says it will ignore this motion." They are also asking for a July 2nd call-in. Diane Finley is the Immigration and Citizenship Minister and her phone numbers are (613) 996-4974 and (519) 426-3400 -- they also provide her e-mail addresses ("minister" at "") and ("finled1" at "").

To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote,
Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail -- that's "finley.d" at "") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail -- that's "pm" at ""). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here.

There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb,
Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

"Ultimately, the way I look at it is," McClatchy Newspaper's
Leila Fadel offered to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez (Democracy Now!) yesterday, "there were 23 death certificates, 24 people died. Among them were toddlers and women, and Sergeant Wuterich has said this is what his training told him to do--go into the houses, throw grenades, and apparently shoot children and women. And it did happen, no one disputes that these women and children were killed. And that is what is angering the people of Haditha, that somehow, even with all of these bodies, that no one is being held accountable. And from what I understand, the case against Sergeant Wuterich is particularly strong and he's given eight--I think seven Marines immunity in order to have testimony against the sergeant. And he says, 'I did the right thing.' But toddlers--three-year-olds--and women died." Fadel was on to discuss the realities she reported in "Hadith victims' kin outraged as Marines go free" (McClatchy Newspapers, and link has text and video):"Khadija Hassan still shrouds her body in black, nearly three years after the deaths of her four sons. They were killed on Nov. 19, 2005, along with 20 other people in the deadliest documented case of U.S. troops killing civilians since the Vietnam War. Eight Marines were charged in the case, but in the intervening years, criminal charges have been dismissed against six. A seventh Marine was acquitted. The residents of Haditha, after being told they could depend on U.S. justice, feel betrayed." With Gonzalez and Goodman, Fadel shared, "We took a drive back to Haditha last week, trying to get a reaction to the dismissals and the one acquittal regarding this case of 24 people being killed on November 19, 2005. And the ultimate feeling I came away with: people felt betrayed. They felt betrayed that journalists told them if they told their story, somebody would be held accountable. They felt betrayed investigators told them that U.S. justice--that they could depend on that, and nobody is being held accountable. Many of them said, 'How many bodies does there have to be for someone to be punished for this?'"

This as
Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports a US military raid in Karbala today resulted in 1 civilian being killed. On the heels of three bank employees being shot to death by the US military while on their way to work and a family air bombed by the US military. Earlier this week at Inside Iraq, an Iraqi correspondent remembered "Yasser Salihee, a physician and a father of one lovely girl" who had worked for McClatchy until being shot dead by a US soldier "Friday June 24, 2005". "Your friends and colleagues never forgot you and will not," writes the correspondent, "[. . .] I've been in so many places Yasser, I saw many die. I saw children, women and men were killed by terrorists or troops and we will keep trying to tell their stories. If we die my friend we will be dying telling the truth, telling the people what really happens here."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Diyala Province roadside bombing last night that claimed the life of 1 shepherd and left two more wounded. Reuters notes a Shirqat roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 2 "Awakening" Council members and left three more wounded.


Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports 1 "senior city appeals judge" was shot dead in Baghdad Thursday. Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) identifies the judge of "Kamil al-Swaili, Head of Appeal Court" and quotes a High Judiciary Council spokesperson explaining over "40 judges have been assassinated since March 2003". Reuters explains, "Assailants using two vehicles blocked the judge's way, a police source said. They shot the judge, who was alone in his vehicle, before driving away, he said." Iran's Press TV states, "The assassination of al-Shewaili -- head of one of Baghdad's two appeals courts -- is the latest in a series of judges, academics and other professionals to be targeted by militants." Reuters notes a police officer was injured in a Jurf al-Sakhar shooting.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Mahaweel.

Meanwhile at the same the US military calls back service members who have been discharged, they kick out those who want to serve.
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network explains:

Decorated Army Sergeant Darren Manzella has been discharged under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law banning lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans from military service, effective June 10. The Iraq war veteran was one of the first openly gay active duty service members to speak with the media while serving inside a war zone.
In December 2007, Manzella was profiled by the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes. He told correspondent Lesley Stahl that he served openly during much of his time in the Army, with the full support of his colleagues and command.
"The discharge of battle-tested, talented service members like Sergeant Manzella weakens our military in a time of war. National security requires that Congress lift the ban on gays in the military and allow commanders to judge troops on their qualifications, not their sexuality," said Adam Ebbin, Communications Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN).
SLDN reports that a growing number of service members are also serving openly without incident. The organization is aware of more than 500 troops who are 'out' to their colleagues and, in some cases, their commands.
Sergeant Manzella said, "My sexual orientation certainly didn't make a difference when I treated injuries and saved lives in the streets of Baghdad. It shouldn't be a factor in allowing me to continue to serve."
Manzella, 30, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2002 and was twice deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While under fire on the streets of Baghdad, he provided medical care to his fellow soldiers, Iraqi National Guardsmen and civilians. He was awarded the Combat Medical Badge, and also received several other awards recognizing his courage and service.For more information on Sergeant Manzella, SLDN and the campaign to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," visit

In December of last year,
Leslie Stahl spoke with Manzella for CBS' 60 Minutes (link has video and text)

Turning to the US political race for president,
Josie Swindler (Radar) reports MTV had decided to take political advertising. Wait? Madonna, naked with the flag around her wasn't political speech? (Well, it sure wasn't art.) But, Swindler reports, there's a catch. They will allow the GOP and the Democratic nominees -- whomever they might be -- to buy ads. And other candidates? MTV v.p. of communion (I'm being sarcastic) Jeannie Kedas states, "We would consider and accept third-party advertisements on a case by case basis." Which is a good time to note that Bill Coleman shares his thoughts on the presidential race in a letter to the Bennington Banner:In reality, candidates such as Ralph Nader are disregarded from the outset because the election of someone such as Mr. Nader would bring about a true day of reckoning for American corporations. As long as these corporations are permitted to on the one hand have the same or greater rights than individual citizens, and on the other hand to never face the death penalty or anything more than self regulation or slap on the wrist fines, they can continue to wreak havoc everywhere they go and drain average people of every last cent of economic vitality they can muster. Yes, Ralph Nader supports an end to corporate personhood, in contrast to Barack Obama or John McCain, whose campaigns are awash in contributions from corporate America. The differences between Mr. Nader and the candidates that you are permitted to read about or see on television each day are very far reaching and vast.

The candidates you are allowed to see . . . To MTV, according to today's news, or not to MTV.

Two upcoming events for the Nader campaign: (1) "Private Conversation and Fresh Summer Buffet on the River" fundraiser in Litchfield, Conn. Sunday at 2:00 pm and (2) a Honolulu Nader for President 2008 Rally Thursday (July 3) at 8:00 pm at the Univeristy of Hawiaii. For more information on the events, click here. Team Nader notes:

Ralph Nader will be a guest on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Sunday June 29, 2008. (
Check here for broadcast times in your area).
By the way, there are many definitions of "talking white."
Here's our definition, from the Nader/Gonzalez dictionary:
Talking white means telling the white corporate power structure what they want to hear, rather than calling them out and telling them what they need to hear.

And please note, whether George Steph plays it straight or goes into attack mode, don't turn off your television after -- you'll miss out on the unintentionally hilarious roundtable to follow featuring two Punches and two Judys. In other TV news, US Senator Barbara Boxer will be among the guests on this week's
Bill Moyers Journal. Moyers broadcasts Friday nights on most PBS stations (and may repeat in some markets so check local listings). The Journal features online transcripts, online audio, online video and a blog to leave comments. In addition, Bill Moyers and Michael Winship often post commentaries there, either a Moyers commentary or a Winship commentary, or this week, a commentary by both. From the opening of "It Was Oil, All Along:"

Oh, no, they told us, Iraq isn't a war about oil. That's cynical and simplistic, they said. It's about terror and al Qaeda and toppling a dictator and spreading democracy and protecting ourselves from weapons of mass destruction. But one by one, these concocted rationales went up in smoke, fire, and ashes. And now the bottom line turns out to be....the bottom line. It is about oil.Alan Greenspan said so last fall. The former chairman of the Federal Reserve, safely out of office, confessed in his memoir, "....Everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil." He elaborated in an interview with the Washington Post's Bob Woodward, "If Saddam Hussein had been head of Iraq and there was no oil under those sands, our response to him would not have been as strong as it was in the first gulf war."Remember, also, that soon after the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld.s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, told the press that war was our only strategic choice. "...We had virtually no economic options with Iraq," he explained, "because the country floats on a sea of oil."Shades of Daniel Plainview, the monstrous petroleum tycoon in the movie There Will Be Blood. Half-mad, he exclaims, "There's a whole ocean of oil under our feet!" then adds, "No one can get at it except for me!"

as does
NOW on PBS which asks, "Is there a way to keep desperate homeowners in their houses? One enterprising entrepreneur has come up with a creative and self-sustaining way to prevent foreclosures and protect individuals from predatory subprime lenders, but not everyone agrees with his approach. Is this another cautionary tale in the making?" PBS' Washington Week will find Gwyn speaking with the New York Times' Linda Greenhouse and NBC's Pete Williams about the Court's latest rulings; Peter Baker (New York Times) and Shailagh Murray (Washington Post) will round out the roundtable. And independent journalist and artist David Bacon continues to cover the immigration experiences and his latest photos from Mixteca are amazing. Click here for his photos of documenting the experiences of immigrants. This fall (September) Bacon's Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants us released by Beacon Press.

corey glassryan johnsonmatthis chiroux
douglas glynn
bill kaufmanntrey paul
mcclatchy newspapersleila fadel
juan gonzalez
bill moyers journallinda greenhousedavid baconwashington weekpbsnow on pbs
peter bakershailagh murraythe washington post