Friday, October 24, 2008

Howard's 'Zehn'

So last weekend, C.I. and I spent a lot of time talking about the supposedly impending endorsement of Barack Obama by Howard Zinn. Would it really happen the way everyone was saying? If it did, would we call it out?

C.I. already beat me to it this afternoon with the Iraq snapshot and highlights Mickey Z's wonderful commentary. So that's two. Let's go for three.

"Not a Spoof: Howard Zinn Sells Out Everything He's Ever Believed In" (Sean Fenley, OpEdNews):
Sorry dear comrade, but there’s no dignity in doing what it is that you’re suggesting. To pull the lever affirmatively for continuing more of the same, is in no way, shape, or form a step toward a brighter colored future. No, the only progressive options on election day are named Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney (as well as whoever the Socialist Party is running), and although those of us who are voting for them are certain that they will not win the election (thanks to the MSM, and other insurmountable malevolent forces); one thing we do know is that in our heart of hearts this is the appropriate thing to do.

So that's Mickey Z, C.I., Sean Finley and let me be the fourth.

Howard Zinn is someone I've long enjoyed. As a student against the war back in the day, Howard Zinn made a huge impression on me. There are few people I think more highly of than Howard. If a staging of A People's History comes to my area, I see it. If he's giving a speech, I catch it. If he's on a program, I catch it. I cannot walk into my regular bookstore without being stopped if Howard has a new collection of essays or interviews or whatever.

But that doesn't mean I say, "Way to go, Howie!" at every damn thing he does.

Endorsing Barack makes Howard a joke. In fact, it makes him a bigger joke than signing that idiotic letter at The Nation. Howard's endorsement undercuts everything else he has done and renders one of our strongest minds this year's James Carville.

It is a huge mistake and it diminshes everything Howard has ever stood for or tried to stand for.

It's also not a smart move because every sell-out pisses C.I. off and this is the woman who knows where all the bodies are buried. The 'left' and left keeps pulling this crap and C.I. has no reason to keep their secrets, no reason to be kind. So those who informed on others to the FBI during the Nixon era and think it's either unknown or not widely know better get used to the fact that their past is not buried and C.I. will be the one to float the corpses up to the surface.

I really am surprised by very little that has happened this year. "Independent" media is not independent and they're not professionals. But Howard Zinn?

That was a huge disappointment. That was a huge shock. Last weekend, I kept telling C.I. that I was sure it was a nasty rumor. Howard had wrongly taken part in the 2004 "Ralph, Don't Run" campaign and I had thought that was a momentary lapse. Obviously, that's not the case. Howard Zinn is the last person who should endorse a candidate from one of the two major parties and the fact that he was willing to use his reputation and name to, in effect, hawk Crest toothpaste says a great deal about how shallow the 'left' is and how age has cowed Howard Zinn.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, October 24, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, concerns rise regarding Iraqi Christians, the "Awakening" members forgotten?, and more.

Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post) observes, "But the violence diminished with the creation of 'Awakening' groups, U.S.-paid patrols of mostly Sunni fighters who broke with insurgents and allied with U.S. forces." 'Awakening' members are Sunni thugs put on the US payroll in order to stop the attacks on the US. It's the "fork over your lunch money" strategy playground 'strategy' as US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen David Petraeus made clear in their testimonies to Congress in April. For some US currency, the attacks would stop and the US would step out of the way and let the "Awakening" take over various regions providing 'security' which struck many residents as a reign of terror. October 1st, the puppet government in Iraq was supposed to take over nearly half the "Awakening" members (but even that portion remains on the US payroll). Nouri al-Maliki has never trusted the "Awakenings" and has staffed his ministries with his own Shi'ite thugs. Petraeus has repeatedly praised the "Awakenings" as providing security to Iraq. Where do things stand now? Earlier in the week, Surdarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reported on the issue and noted it "is already touching off new conflicts that could deepen without U.S. military backing for the movement. They have stripped traditional tribal leaders of influence. They have carved up Sunni areas into fiefdoms, imposing their views on law and society and weakening the authority of the Shiite-led central government. Divisions are emerging among the new breed of tribal leaders, even as they are challenging established Sunni religious parties for political dominance." The "Awakening" presence was felt last year after repeated kick start attempts (always hailed as a 'turned corner' by the press) going back to 2005. The pay-offs were one aspect of the counter-insurgency strategies being deployed against Iraqis. Barack Obama, Democratic presidential nominee, supports counter-insurgency and has the bulk of those responsible for the assault on Iraqis on his advisory board (Sarah Sewell, Samantha Power, et al). So it's no surprise that Time quotes him insisting, "The Sunni awakening changed the dynamic in Iraq fundamentally. It could not have occured unless there were some contacts and intermediaries to peel off those who are tribal leaders, regional leaders, Sunni nationalists, from a more radical messianic brand of insurgency." [Note: Time is down for "scheduled maintenance session" -- that web address was given to me over the phone. If it does not work, Google the quote and you will find it.]

Tim King (Salem-News) observes: "At least half of them are being cut loose and Iraq is expected to take over the payments for a little more than half the program. Most members of this group believe they will not see any payments from their now country. Cutting off the payments to the Sons of Iraq is a colossal mistake. The checkpoints operated by the Sons of Iraq are exactly what has brought the peace to Iraq. Ending them is foolish, but we are doing it. These are mostly Sunni Muslims and they had a place in the Shiite government with the Sons of Iraq, but we are allowing one of the war's few success stories to end, and likely have not even begun to see the repercussions that are sure to come." The "Awakening" members fear they will be arrested or worse and on the issue of arrests,
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Monday, "Police arrested three Sahwa members in Mustafa neighborhood in Baquba, according to arrest warrants." (Sahwa and Sons Of Iraq are other names for "Awakening" members.)

Meanwhile the crisis continues for Iraqi Christians.
Mark MacKinnon (Globe and Mail) speaks with Father Sabri al-Maqdessy who explains, "Christians have always been targeted by different groups in the Middle East because we are the only people without a tirbal system to protect us or that political power to give us security. The church is weak. The Vatican does not have tanks. . . . Everyone is leaving. If the situation continues the way it is for another 10 years, 20 at most, you won't see any Christians left here." Mission News Network via quotes Open Doors USA's president Carl Moeller, "I'm afraid it's actually getting worse. The Christian community continues to be terrorized by extremists and basically are being forced out of homes at gunpoint, children and elderly people being murdered. This is a real crisis. Not just a Christian crisis, but a real humanitarian crisis for the country of Iraq." UN High Comissioner for Refugees spokesperson Ron Redmond addressed the topic in Geneva today:

UNHCR is helping thousands of Iraqi Christians who have fled the northern city of Mosul over the past fortnight, most of them to villages elsewhere in Ninewa province but also about 400 who have crossed into Syria. It is still not clear who is behind the intimidation that caused them to flee. More than 2,200 families, or some 13,000 people, are estimated to have left Mosul by mid-week, mostly to safe areas to the north and east of the city. That is more than half of Mosul's Christian population. They have also fled to the neighboring governorates of Dahuk, Erbil and Kirkuk. Most have been taken in by other Christian families. The displacement now appears to be slowing, according to UNHCR staff in the region. UNHCR Iraq and its partners have delivered aid to at least 1,725 of the displaced families in about 20 ares of northern Iraq. In Syria, meanwhile, UNHCR Representative Laurens Jolles reports that many Christians from Mosul have been systematically targeted and no longer feel safe there. UNHCR will provide support for those Iraqis who seek refuge in neighborhing countries and we very much appreciate that Syria countinues to welcome refugees. Syria already hosts at least 1.2 million Iraqis.

This as
Assyrian International News Agency reports that Yonadam Kanna ("leader of the Assyrian Democratic Movement and member of Iraq's parliament") has called for the troops in Mosul to be pulled and new ones to be sent in, "We call for an exchange of the troops who failed to protect the Christians in their areas with new troops who are able to bring security to these areas." And in a new development, AINA reports, "The auxiliary bishop of the Chaldean Church of Babylon in Iraq, His eminence Shlemon Warduni, expressed support on Friday for the establishment of an administrative area for the minorities living in the Nineveh Plain. Speaking to the reporter of the webzine, the high ranking church leader made it clear his church has changed its stand on the administrative unit issue. . . . The Iraqi constitution allows for the establishment of local rule for minorities in areas where they have considerable numbers. The Assyrian Democratic Movement, the political party supported by an overwhelming majority of Assyrians from all church denominations during the last national elections, announced during a 2003 conference in Baghdad it endorses the idea of making the minority dense Nineveh Plain area into an administrative unit according to the Iraqi constitution. Since then, an increasing number of Assyrian representatives from the political and religious sphere have supported the plan."

In some of today's reported violence,
Reuters notes a Kut mortar attack that claimed the lives of 3 children (two more wounded). AndReuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead outside Tuz Khurmato and wounded two others.

Stopping for the public airwaves (and all listed can be streamed), in public radio news,
WBAI Monday features Judy Collins. Collins and Kenny White appear on Janet Coleman and David Dozer's Cat Radio Cafe along with playwright Shem Bitterman. The program airs Monday at 2:00 p.m. EST. Public television? NOW on PBS offers a report on the nursing crisis: "According to a government study, by the year 2020, there could be a nationwide shoratge of up to one million nurses, which could result in substandard treatment for hundreds of thousands of patients. Just as alarming, fewer nurses are choosing to teach the next generation of professionals, resulting in tens of thousands of applicants being turned away from the nation's nursing schools." NOW on PBS begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (check local listings) as does Washington Week which finds Gwen joined by journalists Shailagh Murray (Washington Post), Michael Viqueira (NBC) and David Shribman (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) and, for the child-at-heart, Gwen also provides two circus clowns on the panel.

Turning to the US race for president. Barack Obama is not a Socialist or a Communist (or a socialist or a communist). He is a Corporate War Hawk. But the confusion is understandable considering all the efforst to prop Baby Barry up throughout the Democratic Party primary by non-Democrats. It's the general election and Barack's just received his latest endorsement from a Socialist or a Communist: Howard Zinn. (Zinn is a Socialist.)
Watch him make an ass out of himself via the so-called "Real" News. Mickey Z (Dissident Voice) provides the takedown for that pathetic sort of cowardice: "This strategy of choosing an alleged 'lesser evil' because he/she might be influenced by some mythical 'popular movement' would be naive if put forth by a high school student. Professors [Noam] Chomsky and Zinn know better. If it's incremental change they want, why not encourage their many readers to vote for Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney? The classic (read: absurd) reply to that question is: 'Because Nader or McKinney can't win.' Of course they can't win if everyone who claims to agree with them inexplicably votes for Obama instead. Paging Alice: You're wanted down the ______ rabbit hole." And on the subject of Noam Chomsky, let's drop back to 2007 when Panhandle Media was far less concerned with propping up Weather Underground. This is Michael Alpert of ZNet (ZMag) speaking to Amy Goodman in April of 2007:

Michael Albert: One example was, Weatherman was a group that was engaged in activity at the time. It was part of SDS, not a part I was belonged to, but they wanted to recruit me. At a particular moment, I went into Noam's office, and I asked him about it, this recruitment effort by them and whether -- you know, how I should relate. Noam was loath to give people advice about what to do in their life or about strategy.

Amy Goodman: And explain what the Weathermen were.

Michael Albert: The Weathermen were a very -- they were the most militant, most violent wing of SDS. Their analysis was a bit peculiar. I don't think we need to go into details. But in any case, so I asked him about that, and he was very loath to do that, but in this particular case -- we were already pretty close, and he -- you know, he didn't want me to make an error, so he did make a suggestion. And he sort of said very quickly, he said, "They're wonderful people. They're great people. They're moved well. I mean, their motives are good. Some of them are going to die. Some of them are going to hurt others. They're going to have very little effect on the well-being of people around the world because of what they're doing." And in a phrase, right, he captured what was there, and his advice was important. I don't think it was a difinitive in my choice not to join, but it certainly would have been a big factor.

And there's actually a lot more to the above anecdote. (I know Michael, I've heard the anecdote repeately over the years in expanded form.) But Chomsky is warning Albert against the Weathermen. The Weathermen, Chomsky is arguing, is too dangerous. The Weathermen is the group that breaks off from SDS and will become Weather Underground. The Weathermen do the Days of Rage in Chicago (1969).

And let's do a book plug. Paul Street's
Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics came out last month and Street's one of the few on the left who has not embarrassed himself in 2008. And here's Street mentioning his book at ZNet: "It shows Obama and his marketers working effectively to create a false left impression among certain targeted voters. As I demonstrate, Obama posed as a left-leaning antiwar and social justice progressive, donning deceptive rebel's clothing in numerous speeches, town hall meetings, and television commericals through much of the primary campaign. He claimed falsely to be a dedicated opponent of American emprie, war and inequality, even going to the sickening point of telling Iowa voters that they could 'join the movement to stop the [Iraq] war' by Caucusing for him. For all his claims to be a nobel reformer 'above the fray' of America's plutocracy and 'ideological' politics, the real Obama excavated in my study is no special exception to -- and is in many ways an epitome of -- what the still-left Christopher Hitchens called (in his 1999 study of the Bill and Hillary Clinton phenomenon) 'the essence of American politics. This essence, when distilled,' Hitchens explained, 'consists of the manipulation of populism by elitism'." If you use the link to the article, you should check out the comments as well (Street's contributing to the comments). But to clarify something for this site: As repeatedly stated here, Barack is not a Socialist. However, as Ava and I noted -- addressing Leela's brave piece of writing:

First, thank you to Dee Dee for finding that post and e-mailing to ask that it be highlighted. Second, read what Leela's saying. We don't agree with her view of Democrats. We do, however, know where's she's coming from on that view. Her view is the sort of thing that can start a conversation. It may never bring feminists into one political party's tent (we don't think that should be a goal of the feminist movement short of a feminist party being started), but conversations can illuminate and increase our understandings.Leela is obviously upset (first hint, her title), so even though we disagree with her view of the Democratic Party (re: Socialism), we would have first registered that she was upset and then attempted to engage. That didn't really happen on the thread and we'll assume that was due to the anger/ill will her view caused others.But here's the reality: some people do see the Democratic Party as a Socialist Party. Some people see the Republican Party as an Evangelical Party. Neither belief is accurate but to understand each other, we need to understand where we are all coming from."

That is the reality of perceptions. (And of course alleged brainiac Rachel Maddow doesn't grasp that there is a difference between Socialism and Communism.) For this site, we are a left site and see no Socialism in Barack. But the right insisting Barack's a Socialist are not necessarily lying or even wrong. The terms are largely undefined in discussions today (again, allegedly educated Maddow -- from the center -- expressed on her bad MSNBC show this week that Socialism and Communism were the same thing). Leela is among the women blogging at
Citizen Girl, by the way. And the US has a Socialist in Congress, Senator Bernie Sanders. But -- as is usually the case -- 'helpers' and the 'shocked' obscure reality by referring to him as 'independent.' He is a Socialist openly and the refusal to apply that label goes a long way towards explaining how screwed up US politics are. Another sign of the sickness in the US is this country's Socialist Worker and crap like Ashley Smith's "Fighting for what we want" that wants to argue there's no difference on the wars between the McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden ticket (there isn't) but uses pejoratives for McCain-Palin ("moronic," "knuckle dragging") but not for Obama-Biden. It's not even-handed and it does imply -- by insulting only one side -- that one ticket is 'better.' There is no difference on the Iraq War between the tickets for the two major parties. One would assume an allegedly Socialist periodical would have no reason to take sides between two Corporatist candidates. There's a lot more honesty -- from their political perspective (right-wing) -- in Stanley Kurtz' most recent National Review piece: "In short, the New Party was a mid-1990s effort to build a 'progressive' coalition to the left of the Democratic party, uniting left-leaning baby boomers with minorities, relatively militant unionists, and 'idealistic' young people."

Moving over to political lies,
Mark Hosenball (Newsweek) underscores a big lie that passed with little attention, "'All the public reports suggested,' Obama said, that people shouted 'things like 'terrorist' and 'kill him'.' Making a death threat against a presidential candidate can be a crime. But even before Obama cited "reports" of the threats at the debate, the U.S. Secret Service had told media outlets, including NEWSWEEK, that it was unable to corroborate accounts of the 'kill him' remarks--and according to a law-enforcement official, who asked for anonymity when discussing a political matter, the Obama campaign knew as much. Now some officials are disgruntled that Obama gave added credence to the threat by mentioning it in front of 60 million viewers. At this point in the campaign, said one, candidates will 'say anything to make a particular point.'" [For more on that topic, see this snapshot from last week.]

On the subject of political lies, yes, people in the US do have the right not to vote. That is their decision and it can be a perfectly acceptable one despite the harping from certain quarters that insist "YOU MUST VOTE!".
Linda Averill (FSN via Information Clearing House) explains that position and also provides some history:

Outrageous rules, media censorship, private financing of campaigns, and sheer thuggery have marginalized political parties that compete with labor's fake friend, the Democratic Party. This includes even parties like the Greens, who simply want to reform capitalism.It's not people who vote socialist or Green who throw away their votes. The system does it! U.S. elections are "winner take all." If a socialist gets 20 percent of the vote, a Green gets 15 percent, and a Democrat gets 51 percent -- all votes go to the Democrat.Things weren't always so sewn up. At the start of the 20th century, socialists ran on explicitly pro-labor, anti-capitalist platforms. And they won seats -- more than 1,200 offices nationwide.To eliminate the threat this posed, the Democrats and Republicans launched a political witch-hunt. Socialist party offices were raided, pro-labor representatives were denied their seats, radicals were tossed in jail, and restrictive ballot laws were passed.

Averill closes by quoting Mother Jones: "I have never had a vote, and I have raised hell all over this country. You don't need a vote to raise hell! You need convictions and a voice!"

Those who wish to vote will have many choices to chose from (except for the state of Oklahoma whose restrictive laws allow voters to only pick the Democratic or Republican presidential ticket). Ther is the Green Party presidential candidate
Cynthia McKinney who will appear Saturday October 25 on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. Cynthia's running mate is Rosa Clemente and Cynthia will be in Seattle:
The Washington State Power To The People Campaign has announced that Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney will be visiting Seattle on Sunday, October 26th and Monday, October 27th. Scheduled activities include:Sunday, October 26, 2008* 3pm - 7pm"Vote...Then What?From The Day After The Election Onward: Strategies for Community Organizing, Greening & Reconstruction"Umojafest Peace Center24th Ave & E Spring St, SeattleThe public is invited to attend.Cynthia McKinney will be speaking in support of grassroots and institutional solutions to violence and other issues plaguing urban communities nationwide. This event is hosted by the Umojafest Peace Center and the McKinney/Clemente 2008 Power To The People Campaign. The program will include hip-hop and spoken word performances, speakers from youth and community based organizations, and a showing of the award-winning film, American Blackout.Monday, October 27, 2008* 11am - 12:30pm"The Power of Student Movements: How to Use Your Campus as a Tool to Change the World!"Broadway Performance HallBroadway at Pine Street, SeattleThe public is invited.Ms. McKinney will address the growing concerns of students, the need for student leadership, and how students can organize on campus to engage in and impact social justice struggles and make meaningful contributions to communities outside school. This event will be hosted by the Black Student Union of Seattle Central Community College.

The Republican presidential candidate is John McCain, Sarah Palin is his running mate.
McCain - Palin '08 notes:

"And as governor, I've succeeded in securing additional funding and assistance for students with special needs. By 2011, I will have tripled the funding available to these students." -- Governor Sarah Palin, 10/24/08
Governor Palin Has A Proven Record Of Commitment To Special Needs Children: Governor Palin Has Increased Funding For Special Needs Education. Overall funding for Special Needs students has increased every year since Sarah Palin entered office, from $219 million in 2007 to a projected $276 million in 2009. Breakdown below:
FY07: $219,358,041
FY08: $220,420,268
FY09: $275,827,909
On March 28, 2008, Governor Palin Signed Legislation That Will Nearly Triple
Per-Pupil Funding Over Three Years For Special Needs Students With High-
Cost Requirements. Per-pupil breakdown below:
FY08: $26,900
FY09: $49,320
FY10: $61,380
FY11: $73,840
Governor Palin Has Directed State Funds To Other Special Needs Programs.
This funding includes $500,000 for diagnostic services for autistic children and $250,000 for training in early autism intervention in her FY2009 budget. The Executive Director Of The Association Of Alaska School Boards Called
The New Funding Palin Fought For A "Historic Event." "Carl Rose, the executive director of the Association of Alaska School Boards, praised the changes in funding for rural schools and students with special needs as a 'historic event,'
and said the finance overhaul would bring more stability to district budgets."
("Alaska Legislators Overhaul Funding," Education Week, 4/30/08) Families Of Special Needs Children "Have Been Flocking To Palin Rallies ...
They Say, Because Her Story Is Theirs, Too." But in the sea of faces, nearly everywhere she goes, she encounters people who aren't really there for the politics. ... Families of children with Down syndrome have been flocking to
Palin rallies. They come to shake her hand, grab a hug or snap a picture,
drawn there, they say, because her story is theirs, too." (Savannah Guthrie,
Nightly News," 10/14/08)

Scott Conroy (CBS News) reports, "The Alaska governor, whose infant son Trig has Down syndrome, said that a McCain/Palin administration would allow more flexibility for parents to choose their children's schools, committed to fully fund the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, and promised to reform and refocus special needs services." This was a major speech and text of it (and video) is up at McCain-Palin:

Too often, even in our own day, children with special needs have been set apart and excluded. Too often, state and federal laws add to their challenges, instead of removing barriers and opening new paths of opportunity. Too often, they are made to feel that there is no place for them in the life of our country, that they don't count or have nothing to contribute. This attitude is a grave disservice to these beautiful children, to their families, and to our country -- and I will
work to change it.One of the most wonderful experiences in this campaign has been to see all the families of children with special needs who come out to rallies and events just
like this. We have a bond there. We know that children with special needs
inspire a special love. You bring your sons and daughters with you, because
you are proud of them, as I am of my son.My little fella sleeps during most of these rallies, even when they get pretty rowdy. He would be amazed to know how many folks come out to see him instead of me. When I learned that Trig would have special needs, honestly, I had to prepare my
heart. At first I was scared, and Todd and I had to ask for strength and understanding.

I did a lot of praying for that understanding, and strength, and to see purpose. And what's been confirmed in me is every child has something to contribute to the
world, if we give them that chance. You know that there are the world's standards of perfection, and then there are God's, and these are the final measure. Every child is beautiful before God, and dear to Him for their own sake. And the truest measure of any society is how it treats those who are most vulnerable. As for our baby boy, Trig, for Todd and me he is only more precious because he is vulnerable. In some ways, I think we stand to learn more from him than he does
from us. When we hold Trig and care for him, we don't feel scared anymore. We feel blessed. Of course, many other families are much further along a similar path -- including my best friend who happens to be my sister, Heather, and her 13-year old son Karcher, who has autism. Heather and I have worked on this for over a decade. Heather is an advocate for children with autism in Alaska. And as governor, I've succeeded in securing additional funding and assistance for students with special needs. By 2011, I will have tripled the funding available to these students. Heather and I have been blessed with a large, strong family network. Our family helps make sure that Trig and Karcher have what they need. But not everyone is lucky enough to have that strong network of support. And the experiences of those millions of Americans point the way to better policy in the care of children with special needs. One of the most common experiences is the struggle of parents to find the best and earliest care for their children. The law requires our public schools to serve children with special needs, but often the results fall far short of the service they need. Even worse, parents are left with no other options, except for the few families that can afford private instruction or therapy. Many of you parents here have been through the drill: You sit down with teachers and counselors to work out the IEP -- an individual education plan for your child. The school may be trying its best, but they're overstretched. They may keep
telling you that your child is "progressing well," and no extra services are required. They keep telling you that -- but you know better. You know that your children are not getting all of the help they need, at a time when they need it most. The parents of children with special needs ask themselves every day if they are doing enough, if they are doing right by their sons and daughters. And when our public school system fails to render help and equal opportunity -- and even prevents parents from seeking it elsewhere that is unacceptable. In a McCain-Palin administration, we will put the educational choices for special needs children in the right hands their parents'. Under reforms that I will lead as vice president, the parents and caretakers of children with physical or mental disabilities will be able to send that boy or girl to the school of their choice -- public or private.

And McCain picks up another endorsement today,
South Carolina's The State which asserts that "we prefer Sen. McCain. First and foremost, he is far better prepared not only to be commander in chief, but to lead the nation as it deals with a complex array of global challenges, from Iran to North Korea, from Russia to Venezuela. Consider two widely different areas of foreign policy, Iraq and Colombia. Sen. McCain has often led the charge against the Bush administration when it was wrong on national security, from the 9/11 Commission (working with Joe Biden to make that happen) to the use of torture. But the most dramatic case regards Iraq. For years, he insisted we needed to send more troops. When Mr. Bush finally agreed to the "surge," Sen. McCain was Gen. David Petraeus' most conspicuous supporter. The surge worked. Sen. McCain was for it, and Sen. Obama was against. That's no accident. Sen. McCain's support arose from his superior understanding of the situation and how to approach it."

Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate and Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. The campaign has toured all fifty states and this Saturday? "
Nader to Attempt Guinness World Record on Saturday: Massachusetts Marathon, Most Speeches in 24-Hours:"This Saturday, Ralph Nader will hold campaign events in 21 cities across Massachusetts in an attempt to set a sanctioned Guinness World Record
to give the most speeches in a 24-hour time period. The minimum threshold
he must meet is 15. He is scheduled to deliver over 315 minutes of speeches
and drive over 365 miles. Each speech will last at least 10 minutes and will
tackle a separate issue.Nader/Gonzalez campaign events are scheduled to be held in the
following cities:Boston, Cambridge, Belmont, Somerville, Medford, Arlington, Lexington,
Concord, Waltham, Watertown, Newton, Worcester, Auburn, Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton, West Springfield, Westfield, Stockbridge
and Sheffield.There is an additional van for intrepid journalists who want to chronicle the adventure from start to finish.For a full itinerary or other related inquires, please contact Ryan Mehta at
408-348-0681, or Rob Socket at 202-471-5833.

And events are lined out throughout the final days of the race.
One just announced will take place November 2nd:
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RALPH NADER TO SPEAK IN ALLENTOWNWHO: Ralph NaderWHAT: Campaign rally/speech on the Wall Street bailout and other current
issuesWHEN: Sunday November 2 at 7:30pmWHERE: Scottish Rite Cathedral, 1533 Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18102On Sunday, November 2 at 7:30pm, consumer advocate and Presidential candidate
Ralph Nader will hold a press conference followed by a rally in Scottish Rite Cathedral.
He will speak about the Wall St. Bailout, single-payer health care, the Iraq
War, the environment, and the state of the Presidential debates from which
he was excluded.Ralph Nader is the only Presidential candidate who recommends jail time,
not bail time for Wall Street fat cats (and the only one who has been pointing
out the risks of deregulation for the last 20 years). He is the number three contender for the Presidency, America's number one consumer advocate,
and he has real solutions to our economic woes.

iraqmark mackinnonayan mittra
the new york timeskatherine zoepfthe washington postmary beth sheridan
mcclatchy newspapers
hussein kadhimsudarsan raghavanwbaicat radio cafejanet colemanjudy collinsdavid dozernow on pbsshailagh murraywashington weekpbs
scott conroycbs news

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ralph and Glo & Ro

"Nader Goes for World Record in Stumping" (Jesse A. Hamilton, Hartford Courant):
Ralph Nader, independent candidate for president, is seeking recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records for his planned day of speechifying on Saturday. He's going for the record for "most speeches in different municipal jurisdictions in one day by a presidential candidate in a general election."

I'm starting with that because it is trivia and maybe that will attract some attention to the Nader-Gonzalez campaign from Big Media. They love their statistics and their trivia.

"The Original Nader Raider" (George Sax, Art Voice):
A little earlier, at a press conference in the church’s library, he answered reporters' questions in perfectly formed sentences, dense with information. "Do Obama or McCain have any comprehensive program to deal with endemic poverty?" he responded to a question about the race. "..Neither Senator Obama nor McCain have a program to crack down on this corporate crime wave that’s drained trillions from workers' savings…The giant corporations have long been on a collision course with the American people." Here, and later in his speech, he proposed a financial --transaction tax of one percent on Wall Street that would, he said, yield $500 billion in one year, a tax like the one FDR’s New Deal imposed 75 years ago, he noted.
Afterwards, in the church sanctuary, he tells the assembled, "For 63 years, Democrats and Republicans haven't delivered basic rights…63 years ago, Western Europe rose from the rubble of war and developed what we still lack: universal health care. The Institute of Medicine estimates 20,000 people in this country die each year from lack of care, four-week vacations, decent child care, paid maternity leave. What's our excuse?"

What is our excuse?

I ask that especially as a woman -- one who's heard Robin Morgan and Gloria Morgan flap their jaws over and over about how we (women) grow more radical as we age.

Apparently for Gloria and Robin, growing more 'radical' means doing the same thing they've done for the last fifty years.

I'm breaking with tradition, I'm voting for Nader. I didn't in 2000. I didn't in 2004.

While Glo and Ro play it safe and suck up to the patriarchy that is the Democratic Party, I'm voting for a candidate who actually could change things.

What's more revolutionary than that?

Voting for a candidate whom you actually believe in? Pretty damn revolutionary.

I've done the other thing -- the hold your nose and tell yourself it's the best you can hope for. 2008, I'm not settling. I'm voting my belief. I did that in the Democratic Party primary as well. I voted for Mike Gravel. Could he win? It was very doubtful. But he stood up during Vietnam and he was the only Democrat on stage back then who challenged Barack. Gravel challenged Hillary as well. But while all the other males on stage were rubbing their noses in Barack's crack, Gravel was pointing out how Barack was the candidate of big money.

I didn't regret my vote. Even when I decided I supported Hillary. I was and am proud of my vote for Gravel. I will be proud of my vote for Ralph.

I think until we're all willing to stand up for what we believe in, we're not going to get anything. We'll get a few crumbs when a Democrats in office (and a lot of lost liberties we're not supposed to notice) and then a Republican comes in and we lose the crumbs. It's the same show, they just recast the lead.

Glo and Ro, love you both. But, honestly, you've failed to lead women. You're on the same path you were on in 1976. It's past time to show that 'radical' spirit you both always insist is there. It's past time to challenge women to dream big and to fight.

It's not 1976. Women don't have to beg for scraps. It's time for the feminist movement to shift into the power mode and start owning their power.

It's also past time for 'leaders' to stop trashing Governor Sarah Palin. It will not be forgotten. It will be a scar on the movement for centuries to come. I am not joking. Smart 'leaders' would be issuing public mea culpas before the election took place.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, October 22, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Ehren Watada gets some legal news, the treaty still waits, and more.

Starting with
Ehren Watada, the first officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq. Lt Watada refused to deploy in the summer of 2006 (June 22nd). An Article 32 hearing took place in August 2006. In February 2007, a court-martial began but Judget Toilet (John Head) -- sensing the prosecution was losing -- ignored objections from the defense team and ruled a mistrial. Head announced that a new court-martial would begin the next month. It never did. In November 2007, federal Judge Benjamin Settle ruled in Watada's favor stating that the issues needed to be resolved. Hal Bernton (Seattle Times) reports today that Judge Settle has ruled that "Watada cannot face a second court-martial on three of five counts" which "leaves open the possibility of a second prosecution on two other counts involving conduct unbecoming an officer." As UPI explains, "A federal judge in Tacoma ruled an Army officer cannot be tried a second time for refusing orders to deploy to Iraq. In a ruling on the technicalities of Lt. Ehren Watada's first trial, U.S. District Judge Ben Settle said prosecuting Watada again would amount to double jeopardy." The Honolulu Advertiser adds, "Settle barred the military from retrying Watada on charges of missing his deployment to Iraq, taking part in a news conference and participating in a Veterans for Peace national convention." And they quote Ehren's father Bob Watada stating, "It's obviously good news. It's very good news." While that aspect is good news, as Bob Watada notes, the Pentagon has a lot of money and may attempt to appeal the decision or to try Ehren on the other two charges. Yet again, Ehren's life is in limbo. His service contract expired in December of 2006. He has been kept in the military all this time so that the military could pursue charges against him. As always, he continues to report for duty at his base.

Turning to Iraq and the treaty.
Leila Fadel (Baghdad Observer, McClatchy Newspapers) explains yesterday's events, "After a 4 and 1/2 hour meeting little was accomplished in a cabinet meeting to discuss the 'final' draft of a long-term security agreement between the United States and Iraq that would replace a United Nations mandate that currently governs the U.S. presence here. Following the meeting it was no longer final, Shiite ministers once again raised objections to the wording of the draft. The Foreign Minister of Iraq, Hoshyar Zebari, conceded that it was unlikely the agreement would be finalized before the U.S. elections on Nov. 4, he told Reuters. The clock is ticking; the United Nations mandate expires on Dec. 31." AFP reports, "Iraq warned on Wednesday it would not be bullied into signing a security pact with the United States despite US leaders warning of potentially dire consequences if it failed to approve the deal" and quotes Ali al-Dabbagh, Iraq spokesperson, declaring, "It is not correct to force Iraqis into making a choice and it is not appropriate to talk with the Iraqis in this way." al-Dabbagh was referring specifically to the chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Michael Mullen. China's Xinhua quotes al-Dabbagh stating, "Deeply concerned, the Iraqi government received the comments of Admiral Michael Mullen. These comments are not welcomed by Iraq. All Iraqis and their political parties are aware of their responsibilities and they know how important to sign or not to sign the deal in a way that it is suitable to them." As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Mullen and US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates were using bullying tactics with Gates tossing out, "I don't think you slam the door shut, but I would say it's pretty far closed" and "Clearly, the clock is ticking"; while Mullen was threateinging "significant consequence" if the treaty -- masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement -- wasn't pushed through. Alissa J. Rubin and Katherine Zoepf (New York Times) term Mullen's remarks "a stark warning to the Iraqis to think hard before rejecting the agreement." The International Herald Tribune editorializes about the road block the treaty has encountered "The most obvious motive is located at the intersection of patriotism and politics. With provincial elections coming up early next year and public opinion surveys indicating that more than 70 percent of Iraqis want an end to the U.S. occupation, Iraqi ministers are striving to align themselves with public opinion."

The reality is more complex and has a great deal to do with Iraqis questioning tricky wording in a contract being shoved before them. Rubin and Zoepf note that the 'aspiration' of withdrawal in 2011 wording has been noticed, by the Iraqis, to allow for the US to decide. Similarly,
Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post) points out issue of off duty US troops being tried in Iraqi courts for crimes also includes the US determining when the soldiers are off-duty. In other words, the decision on both issues remains US decisions.

At the White House today, spokesperson Dana Perino stated of the treaty, "Well, the text was negotiated by both sides and it's now before the Iraqi government, as you say, Secretary Gates put it well yesterday, which is that the door wasn't slammed shut but it's pretty much closed, in our opinion. So the -- I'll leave it to our negotiators to look at any suggestions that the Iraqis have, but I think that any changes would -- it would be a very high bar for them to clear. . . . We are working towards it. As we said -- and I said the door is closing fast, the expiration date for the UN mandate is December 31st and there will be no legal basis for us to continue operating there without that." At the State Dept today, deputy spokesperson Robert Wood was asked to expand upon Perino's comments and replied, "Well, look, as we said yesterday, this text is in front of the Iraqi government right now. And as we've said previously, we believe this is a good text. It's a text that promotes Iraqi sovereignty as well as allows a legal basis for our troops to operate in Iraq. And we think the Iraqis need to take a decision on this now. And I don't have anything really to add from -- to what Dana said this morning. But you know, it's -- the Iraqis need to make a decision. The door is not slammed shut, but it's closing."

"Recent attacks and threats against Christians have caused alarm from Baghdad to the Vatican to the United Nations,"
Missy Ryan (Reuters) summarizes. On the plight of Iraqi Christians, Bradley S. Klapper (AP) explains that the estimated 10,000 Christians who have fled Mosul since the most recent outbreak of violence are not returning thus far (despite being offered the US equivalent of $865 to return) and that Amr Moussa, Arab League chief, issued a statement noting, "We can't remain silent as brutal crimes are being committed against the Christian Iraqis." Meghan Walsh (Arizona Republic) notes a Phoenix demonstration in support of the victims where an estimated 100 people gathered to show their support. Jennifer O'Neill (WBBM780) reports on Michighan's demonstration in Dearborn which had an estimated turnout of 1,000 and notes: "Steve Oshana is Policy Director of the Assyrian American National Coalition. He says the groups are asking Illinois congressmen for support on Assyrian proposals that are currently on the table in Washington D.C." Philip Pullella (Reuters) explains that Reverend Federico Lombardi, spokesperson for Pope Benedict, states the Vatican is troubled, "We are extremely worried about what we are hearing from Iraq. The situation in Mosul is dramatic. The victims are Christians and many thousands of people are fleeing precisely because they are subjected not only to the fear of periodic sttacks but a systematic campaign of threats. This is extremely worrying and we ask ourselves if these people are sufficiently protected by the authorities or if the authorities are not able to protect them or if there is insufficient willingness to protect them." Missy Ryan (Reuters) reports that al-Maliki again met with Iraqi Christians leaders "and again promised protection" but that protection doesn't appear to be coming, now does it? Ryan notes al-Maliki's vague statements about culprits, the US military's insisting that it's "Sunni Islamist militants" and whispers that it's the Kurds who are responsible for the attacks. The Kurdish Globe notes the Kurdish region's president Massoud Barzani today was "vociferously denying fringe allegations that Kurds in Mosul are behind the attacks on Christians that have recently drove many from the city. President Barzani classified such ridiculous insinuation as baseless, extremely malacisious, and a distraction from the real issue at hand: aiding the Christian families that have been forced to leave their homes out of fear for their personal safety." The president "classified"? Looks like the Kurdish Globe "classified" as well with the choice of "ridiculous".

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


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 Baghdad sticky bombs that claimed 3 lives and left seven people wounded, a Mosul car bombing that claimed 4 lives and left four more wounded, and a Diyala Province roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officer.


Reuters notes a Mosul shooting that wounded an Iraqi soldier.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad, the head of a man kidnapped last month was discovered in Tuz Khurmatu and 34 corpses were discovered in Anbar Province. Reuters notes 1 corpse was discovered in Mosul.

Green Party presidential candidate
Cynthia McKinney was a guest on NPR's Talk of the Nation today. There seemed to be confusion or outright hostility aimed at her from Ken Rudin and host Neal Conan. A perfect example is when Cynthia was asked how her run was different from independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's run. Either the two men were extremely dense or they were hoping to create some slug-fest.

"Well first of all," she began, "I'm running as part of the Green Party" which has over 200 elected officials in the US . . . But it was lost on the two men. She then attempted to explain that November 5th the Green Party would still be in place. For some reason, this was confusing and very hard for the two men to understand. Cynthia is not the independent presidential candidate, she is the nominee of a party. That is one way in which her run and Ralph's run are different. Somehow that was either confusing to the men or they were just hoping that Cynthia would launch a slug-fest.

What she did have to speak about they weren't interested in. That included the death penalty and who would have guessed that was a 'fringe' issue to NPR? Repeatedly pressed as to how much difference she saw between the Republican and the Democratic Parties, she offered as an example the issues that get addressed and discussed and the ones that do not. Cynthia pointed out that the death penalty has been ignored by the campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain.

There wasn't any interest in exploring the death penalty issue even after Cynthia pointed out that it hadn't been included in the debates. There was no interest in exploring anything. Asked about her run at the start, she began, "Well basically, le me sort of bring you up to speed on when all of this started and how all of this started." She then briefly recounted how she found herself, last year, standing in front of the Pentagon and delivering a speech about how the shift to a Democratically controlled Congress (following the November 2006 mid-term elections) had not resulted in any movement, how the Democratic leadership had become complicit on issues they supposedly opposed such as the Patriot Act and the illegal war in Iraq. The boys weren't interested in that. They weren't interested in her tying her departure from the Democratic Party to "the footsteps of people who a hundred years ago declared their independence" -- referring to the suffragette movement and the "260 women and 40 men gathered in a room and they also declared their independence" was about all she got to before the boys wanted to cut her off.

It wasn't a conversation, it wasn't a discussion. It wasn't pleasant to listen to. At one point Cynthia McKinney was attempting to discuss the issues she and her running mate Rosa Clemente supported such as college education and how the government will "spend $720 million" for violence and war but not to put America's youth through college. "People need the opportunity to hear a different set of issues discussed," she would explain. But college education didn't matter to the boys.

Repeatedly, Cynthia would present a topic and either be cut off or allowed to make her remark only to have the topic immediately switched by the boys. It was not a professional interview, it was not a joy to listen to.

Cynthia wisely chose to take the Sarah Palin path. (Palin in the Democratic and Republican vice-presidential debate: "And I may not answer the questions the way that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let 'em know my track record also.") Since Neil and Ken weren't interested in a discussion or anything even approximating a follow-up question, Cynthia was correct to talk beyond and over them noting that she and Rosa were "broadening the political discourse and we're representing those people and their values who've been locked out of the two party paradigm." She explained she and Rosa were on the ballot in 32 states and that people in 17 other states could write the McKinney-Clemente ticket in. A caller named Daneil phoned from North Carolina to explain that, "In our state, North Carolina, we can't really write in a candidate" because there's a space but he doesn't believe a write-in vote will be tabulated. Cynthia discussed the hurdles involved involved in just becoming a write-in candidate in North Carolina and, had the boys paid attention, they could have explored this issue in depth. Instated, they came to the interview with a set of questions they were going to work through regardless of any reply or topic raised. Facts also weren't important which is why Cynthia had to correct Neil when he wrongly characterized her as not having campaigned in the north. (Also true is her running mate Rosa has done multiple events in the north.)

What may have been most shocking considering the boring trivia the boys started the hour with -- first African-American woman to head a political party ticket (answer,
Charlene Mitchell the 1968 Communist Party presidential nominee). The fumble, stumble, eat up time with bad guesses would have only been worthwhile had the overgrown boys ever taken a moment to ask Cynthia about her own historic run. Needless to say, two tired boys are rarely interested in discussing progress for women. Cynthia next appears Saturday October 25 on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday.

October 18th,
Cynthia spoke in Georgia at a renuion for the Black Panther Party:

Your experience with the Counter-Intelligence Program of yesterday is instructive today now that the Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, the Military Commissions Act, the Funding for the War on Terror Act are all carved into the law. Kathleen and Natsu and, of course, King Downing, and others can describe how vastly the legal landscape has changed. But there is one aspect of the operation to neutralize your good works and your good name that has not changed. And that's what I want to talk about today.
How many times has the corporate press used the word "spoiler" in reference to the 2000 Presidential election and every Presidential election since then and how many times have they reported accurately the number of black votes cast and not counted or the way in which black voters were disfranchised?
How many times did the corporate press use the word "conspiracy," not in conjunction with the September 11th tragedy, but in conjunction with those who want to know the truth about what happened on that day?
How many times did the corporate media lie to the people of this country and the world in the lead-up to the war against Iraq?
In the wake of accounts of torture and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, how many times were prisoner abuse and torture inside this country mentioned? How many times was Attica, the Angola 3, Chicago's Area 2, or the San Francisco 8 mentioned?
In this, an election year, how many times have stories on election integrity been written that inform and warn potential voters of the problems they might face at the polling place and what their rights are if they encounter them?

Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) believes Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama will be swept into office and notes how 'calming' his signals to conservatives are: "He makes it clear he will address black people directly only when chastisement is on the agenda. If anyone has doubts, the sight of Obama campaign commercials featuring one or two black faces, Obama's included, seal the deal for the two Christophers and their friends. What will Progressives for Obama have to say about the conservative pitching and wooing for their candidate? If past history is any indication, they and other progressives will say nothing at all. They made a decision to collude with the Obama agenda that progressives ought to oppose. The praises of Buckley and Hitchens will have no effect on them any more than the pledges to keep troops in Iraq or to escalate the war in Afghanistan. Obama will make history in more ways than one. He won't just be the first black president. He will be the first president in modern history that convinced millions of people not to believe the words that came out of his own mouth. 'Change' is the campaign slogan, but his policy agenda tells us we will see anything but that. Hitchens and Buckley are certainly convinced that there won't be any changes that aren't to their liking."

Senator John McCain is the Republican presidential nominee and Governor Sarah Palin is his running mate.
Brian Montopoli (CBS News) reports on "Sweat Equity," the new ad from McCain-Palin '08 that takes issue with Barack's "spread the wealth around" comment to Joe Wurzelbacher. Jake Tapper, Matt Jaffee and Imtiyaz Delawala (ABC News, Political Punch) echo CBS News' Scott Conroy from earlier in the week noting of Palin, "In the last two weeks, Palin has fielded questions twice from the Palin traveling press corps on board the campaign plane, and on Sunday night, Palin took impromptu questions from reporters on the airport tarmac in Colorado Springs, Colo., on issues ranging from her thoughts on Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama to the role of robocalls in the election. An hour later, she took questions again from the press pool during an unscheduled stop for ice cream before returning to her hotel for the night. Palin has also become increasingly accessible to local and national media."

At the McCain-Palin '08 blog, Matt Lira posts the following:

I wanted to take a moment and post, with her permission, an email we recieved from a supporter after a McCain event in Missouri. Thank you Melanie for your support, it is because of the support and activism of people like you that keeps this country great. Thank you for fighting for a better America. If you'd like to join Melanie and stand up for what's right for America,
click here to take action today. Additionally, if you want to share your story from the campaign trail, please send them along to
I had the honor to be seated right beside Senator John McCain today for an informal lunch in Columbia, Missouri. I can tell you that he is the real deal. We had an opportunity to ask him questions, share a few laughs and provide him with insight from fellow Americans. He listened, he provided us with real answers and I truly believe he not only has the experience and the right plan but also a big heart for America. The media was present when he first entered the room and then were asked to leave as we had lunch with him. He wasn't interested in pandering to the media. He instead wanted to spend time with the people. If you want to know his answers to questions regarding the economy, support of small businesses, job creation, national security, education funding, etc. let me know. I got the answers I needed. John McCain is the right choice.
I have voted on both sides of the fence in the past, Democrat and Republican. I know what it's like to only have $30 to my name. I know what it's like to work hard to get a job. It took me 3 years to get the job I wanted as a teacher. I know what it's like to start a business from absolutely nothing. And I know what it's like to pay student loans for 15 years. Why? Because I believe in opportunity. I didn't ask for a hand-out. I just wanted the opportunity to use my skills, to help others and to provide for my family. Sound familiar to the rest of you? I bet we all have similar stories. America is a country of endless opportunities. We are not a country of hand-outs. We are a country of leg-ups. People...get the word out...we need a leader that has had more than 144 days of experience in the U.S. Senate. You are as good as your word. But actions speak louder than words. Honor, Honesty, Hard Work should matter... must matter.
Melanie Columbia, Missouri

Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. Nader notes:

The three so-called presidential debates--really parallel interviews by reporters chosen by the Obama and McCain campaigns--are over and they are remarkable for two characteristics--convergence and avoidance.A remarkable similarity between McCain and Obama on foreign and military policy kept enlarging as Obama seemed to enter into a clinch with McCain each time McCain questioned his inexperience or softness or using military force.If anyone can detect a difference between the two candidates regarding belligerence toward Iran and Russia, more U.S. soldiers into the quagmire of Afghanistan (next to Pakistan), kneejerk support of the Israeli military oppression, brutalization and colonization of the Palestinians and their shrinking lands, keeping soldiers and bases in Iraq, despite Obama's use of the word "withdrawal," and their desire to enlarge an already bloated, wasteful military budget which already consumes half of the federal government's operating expenses, please illuminate the crevices between them.This past spring, the foreign affairs reporters, not columnists, for the New York Times and the Washington Post concluded that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are advancing foreign and military policies similar to those adopted by George W. Bush in his second term.Where then is the "hope" and "change" from the junior Senator from Illinois?Moreover, both Obama and McCain want more nuclear power plants, more coal production, and more offshore oil drilling. Our national priority should be energy efficient consumer technologies (motor vehicles, heating, air conditioning and electric systems) and renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal.Both support the gigantic taxpayer funded Wall Street bailout, without expressed amendments. Both support the notorious Patriot Act, the revised FISA act which opened the door to spy on Americans without judicial approval, and Obama agrees with McCain in vigorously opposing the impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.What about avoidance? Did you see them speak about a comprehensive enforcement program to prosecute corporate crooks in the midst of the greatest corporate crime wave in our history? Did you see them allude to doing anything about consumer protection (credit card gouging, price of medicines, the awful exploitation and deprivation of the people in the inner city) and the ripoffs of buyers in ever more obscure and inescapable ways?Wasn't it remarkable how they never mentioned the poor, and only use the middle class when they refer to "regular people?" There are one hundred million poor people and children in this nation and no one in Washington, D.C. associates Senator Obama, much less John McCain, with any worthy program to treat the abundant poverty-related injustices.What about labor issues? Worker health and safety, pensions looted and drained, growing permanent unemployment and underemployment, and outsourcing more and more jobs to fascists and communist dictatorships are not even on the peripheries of the topics covered in the debates.When I was asked my opinion about who won the debates, I say they were not debates. But I know what won and what lost. The winners were big business, bailouts for Wall Street, an expansionary NATO, a boondoggle missile defense program, nuclear power, the military-industrial complex and its insatiable thirst for trillions of taxpayer dollars, for starters.What lost was peace advocacy, international law, the Israeli-Palestinian peace movement, taxpayers, consumers, Africa and We the People.The language of avoidance to address and challenge corporate power is spoken by both McCain and Obama, though interestingly enough, McCain occasionally uses words like "corporate greed" to describe his taking on the giant Boeing tanker contract with the Pentagon.Funded by beer, tobacco, auto and telecommunications companies over the years, the corporation known as the Commission on Presidential Debates features only two corporate-funded candidates, excludes all others and closes off a major forum for smaller candidates, who are on a majority of the states, to reach tens of millions of voters.In the future, this theatre of the absurd can be replaced with a grand coalition of national and local citizen groups who, starting in March, 2012 lay out many debates from Boston to San Diego, rural, suburban and urban, summon the presidential candidates to public auditoriums to react to the peoples' agendas.Can the Democratic and Republican nominees reject this combination of labor, neighborhood, farmer, cooperative, veteran's, religious, student, consumer and good government with tens of millions of members? It will be interesting to see what happens if they do or if they do not.

ehren watada
hal bernton
mcclatchy newspapersleila fadel
margaret kimberley
the washington postmary beth sheridanthe new york timesalissa j. rubinkatherine zoepfmegan walshjennifer o'neill
brian montopoli
jake tapper

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The delusional

How does humanity survive?

It must be a desire to lie? It must be.

Not only has a huge segment of the population convinced themselves that War Hawk Barack Obama is going to end the illegal war -- something even he doesn't hint at -- but you've got tools & fools like Martin Schram who scribble things like "Powell back in straight talk saddle" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer).

Colin Powell is a War Criminal. He is one going back to the Vietnam era. The fact that he endorsed a candidate that Little Dicky Marty Schram loves and strokes himself over? Doesn't change who Powell is.

It does reveal how extremely stupid Schram is. Schram thinks it's great that Powell rips into Palin. Oh wow, Collie Powell doesn't think a woman is qualified. That's a new thing for him how? Are people required to know a damn thing about someone they write about?

How about this one? Powell's a bitter, catty, jealous War Criminal. Reason? Powell was on the list of McCain's v.p. picks. Powell was passed over. Powell's comments on Palin? Jealousy.

Powell's decision to endorse Barack? Hey, just one more Judas endorsing Barack. He follows in Bill Richardson's steps.

Little Dicky Marty Schram embarrassing himself in public . . . again.

As the song says, "And then there's Maude." Or, in this case, Rachel MadCow Maddow.

Yes, everyone, Lanie Doesn't Love Chachi.

Rachel the Mad Cow was ripping apart Sarah Palin yet again. You kind of getting the feeling Rachel's finger-f**king herself when she starts going to town on Palin. But there's no brain Rachel screaming about how Palin called Barack a Communist and how that always makes the person saying it look dumb.

Actually, Mad Cow, you're the one who looks stupid.

Palin found some Socialistic traits in Barack.

Socialism and Communism are not the same thing, you stupid, stupid corporate whore.

As for Barack being a Socialist? Palin didn't say he was. She raised his comment to Joe the Plumber which goes to that and she raised an endorsement from a group (that is Socialist) he received when running for the Illinois legislature -- an endoresement, let me be clear because I know this story in real time, he actively pursued.

I hate liars like Rachel Maddow. I hate fakes like Barack Obama.

Mad Cow, get an education. That will require more than making cow-eyes at the sorority house nightly.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Tuesday, October 21, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the Vatican has concerns, Ralph Nader gets broadcast-network attention, the treaty hits a bump, and more.

Starting with the US race for president,
NBC Nighly News with Brian Williams featured a report on the independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader yesterday. Tonight Nightly News begins the first of two-nights inteviewing the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin. Ron Allen interviewed Nader at length for the report and the interview is available online at Nightly News. Below is a transcript.

Ron Allen: I think the first question everybody has is why do you keep doing this because it would seem you really don't have a chance of winning? So why do you keep pursuing this?

Ralph Nader: You have to keep justice on the front burner. The forces of injustice never take a vacation and the forces of justice can never take a vacation. So as long as I can go around the country putting the progressive agenda on the front table for people, giving voters a choice, I feel I have to do it.

Ron Allen: So what is winning? Is there a specific policy, a specific change of the process that in your mind, makes this worth it?

Ralph Nader: There are a lot of different definitions of winning. One of them is building for a future third political force that can really win an election. The second is bringing lots of people into local, state and national elections as candidates -- especially young people in the future. The third is to push the two parties -- a tugboat candidacy to either make them less worse or a little better which is a historic function of third parties.

Ron Allen: And do you think -- do you think -- is there a way to really measure what you've accomplished, do you think?

Ralph Nader: Oh we'll see. We're pressing for example for single payer health insurance. They're 93 members of the House who've signed on John Conyers HR 676 so let's say we get a good vote and we're trade marked by this agenda -- more people sign on, we think we've played a part.

Ron Allen: This time your signature issues seems to be the rescue package, the bail-out, your opposition to it. It's a consumer-ish issue which is in your wheelhouse. Do you think however -- the administration, the Congress seemed to insist that this was absolutely necessary to avert wider catastrophe -- do you think your message is getting through though?

Ralph Nader: Yes, because I think it was the wrong kind of bail-out. They shouldn't have bailed out first the speculators and the high-risk paper, you should have helped the prudent institutions and the prudent savers that developed a wall to protect them from the ruinous fall-out from Wall St. Second, I think that there should have been re-regulation because de-regulation opened the doors to this excessive speculation and most important the Congress should have made the speculators pay for their bail-out with a tiny tax, 1/10 of 1 percent of the security transactions that are traded every year. That would produce $500 million.

Ron Allen: Part of the rescue package -- without getting too much -- contains some of that, some of the broader principles that Obama and McCain and others argued for, seemed to contain some of that. That tax payers would be investors, that there would be a return on this. Is that not enough?

Ralph Nader: It wasn't thorough enough, it's too easily evaded in terms of the tax payer equity. For example, they weren't given any representation on the boards of directors and there was a cut-off below which they wouldn't have any equity and it was very complex and not really very enforceable. I think when it came to the $700 billion bail-out of Wall St., Washington had Wall St. over a barrel. They could have gotten anything in that bill because Wall St. wanted that $700 billion and, instead, Wall St. pushed Washington in the barrel and rolled it to a blank check. That's why I think Congress has got to revisit this issue.

Ron Allen: Now there's an issue where there was a lot of support for that point of view in the country as there have been for other ideas you have pushed. I hear both candidates, for example, talking about public works projects which you were talking about only a moment ago. Do you think that, having run for the office so long and been out there for so long and not increased your margin significantly, do you think that perhaps you're not the best messenger for your own cause now?

Ralph Nader: No, I think I am the best manager because it's very hard to be nationally known for any candidate unless you're a multi-billionaire. And I am nationally known, I have a track record, I have constituencies around the country which I have helped over the years so I thank I am the candidate for those positions.

Ron Allen: But some people would argue it's the ideas, it's the positions, it's not you. And I think that Obama and others have suggested that in their assessment of you, it's too much about you and it's not about the ideas. I think he said something to the effect that his sense was that if you don't agree with everything Nader stands for, he thinks less of you, he thinks you're not substantive. I think was the word he used.

Ralph Nader: Well let's put it this way. Take all our speeches -- my speeches, Senator Obama's, Senator McCain's -- and count the number of times they say "I" compared to the number of times I say "I" and I think that's your answer. I'm the least egotistical candidate probably in presidential history.

Ron Allen: Let's take them individually. Senator McCain, Governor Palin, what's wrong with them?

Ralph Nader: Well they're corporate candidates. Except for Governor Palin -- she did stand up to the oil companies. But if you look at Senator McCain's positions he is for restricting the rights to have their full day in court of wrongly injured people. That's tort reform, for example. He has consistently supported a bigger military budget. He is very militaristic towards certain countries in the world. He wants the idea of a hundred military bases around the world. He has a cockamamie health insurance plan that's not going to give sufficient health care to all the people in this country. And Governor Palin has fallen in line.

Ron Allen: What do you think of her?

Ralph Nader: Well I think that she has been mistreated. But I think that it was the fault of the Republicans because they introduced her to the American people not as a governor of a state, they introduced her as a soccer mom, they introduced her as having five children, NRA member, a hunter, a fisherman, and once you have that folksy image it's easy to prick the balloon and give the impression she's empty.

Ron Allen: Do you think she's qualified?

Ralph Nader: She's as qualified as any other presidential and vice presidential candidate. What do you have to be to be a member of the two parties and run for president? All you have to do is know how to read and write, get advisers and follow corporate orders.

Ron Allen: When you were talking about -- when you were talking about Senator Obama, you said prepare to be disappointed if he wins. What did you mean by that?

Ralph Nader: Because I think he is very receptive to corporate power and that's why he doesn't have a full Medicare plan for the American people, that's why he doesn't press for a real living wage, just to keep up with inflation on the minimum wage it would be $10 an hour instead it's $6.55 an hour. He doesn't have a platform to crack down on the corporate crime wave that the mainstream press keeps reporting. He doesn't have a program for the bottom 100 million poor Americans and that's just the beginning of what we're going to see of Senator Obama if he wins.

Ron Allen: And you were also in there railing against the mainstream media, us. Why do you think it is that you think you don't get a lot of coverage? Why is it that you don't get any coverage? I think the editors would say, as I think they've told you, you're not that relevant you're not going to win why should we spend the time devoting scarce resources at what you're doing?Ralph Nader: Because I think the media should be interested in a competitive democracy. I think they believe there should be a competitive economy. I think that without a competitive democracy, voter choices are narrowed and the voters that are their audience and one would think they would give more voices and choices in their own reporting other than the same routine daily, redundant, five-minute speeches by Senator Obama and Senator McCain. Reporters keep telling me how bored they are covering the presidential campaigns. Well, we can give them some excitement.

Ron Allen: And also listening to you, it sounds like, it sounds like for you it's not about, you don't seem to -- you're not telling your audiences 'we're going to win, we're going to go to the White House' Winning is a much different goal. You talked about some thirty-odd states where it's not going to be a contest, you can vote your conscience in other places. Have you gotten much more realistic about this?

Ralph Nader: Well I'm always realistic but I know that if you don't allow seeds to sprout, you'll never get plants or trees and if business doesn't allow entrepreneurs a chance, you're never going to rejuvenate the business community but somehow the press has bought into this two-party duopoly which is very exclusionary on presidential debates, on ballot access and this two party duopoly can't be regenerated unless small political starts have a chance to be heard by the American people and that means the mass media.

Ron Allen: And in terms of the two parties, there are still some people out there who -- you may never live this down -- as you know, there are many people who, there are people out there who still blame you for Al Gore's loss in Florida and in 2000 and therefore for the last eight years.

Ralph Nader: Well Al Gore doesn't blame the Green Party to his credit. He thinks he won the election -- which he did in the popular vote but the electoral college threw it into Florida and he can give you chapter and verse on how it was taken from him illicitly from Tallahassee all the way to the five Republican politicians on the Supreme Court who selected George W. Bush as president. But it's interesting that you raise this because I don't think the mass media can have it both ways. On the one hand they say,
Nader-Gonzalez doesn't have a chance to win therefore don't cover them. On the other hand, they say well Nader-Gonzalez may be 'spoilers,' that bigoted political word, and tip the election by tipping some of the close states. Well, which is it?

Ron Allen: I think that was the case back in 2000. I don't think people think that's the case now.

Ralph Nader: Well because of recent polls but they thought that back in July.

Ron Allen: Do you think you're going to influence some of these battlegrounds? I've heard you suggest that Colorado, Nevada, places where you think you could in fact effect the outcome.

Ralph Nader: Well we want to get as many votes as we can so we're traveling and getting votes in all fifty states but if we are going to be able to be heard more by going into the close states and effecting the margins, we'll be very pleased to do it because our interests are the health, safety and economics well being of the American people not the plight of one party over another.

Ron Allen: But do you actually think, is there a state where you think that you are really going to have an impact at this point, just a few weeks -- couple of weeks -- before the election?

Ralph Nader: Well it could be Ohio but it's trending towards an Obama landslide so Ohio I suppose is close maybe Florida is still close. What else would there be?

Ron Allen: But again in states where you seem to be running the strongest, Colorado, Nevada,

Ralph Nader: Yes, in Colorado --

Ron Allen: Even if you don't effect the overall outcome, do you really think you're going to have an impact? Where do you think you're going to have the greatest impact?

Ralph Nader: Well I think the greatest impact will be where ever the media covers us the most and they'll probably cover us the most when we go into the small states. Assuming there isn't a landslide by then.

Ron Allen: Do you think -- how do you think the election is going to turn out?

Ralph Nader: Right now? If nothing happens in the next two weeks, I think it will be a big Democratic landslide for the Congress and probably 330 electoral votes for Barack Obama.

Ron Allen: And what's wrong with that?

Ralph Nader: Well one thing that is not wrong is that the Democrats will control the White House and the Congress with large minorities and they'll have no more excuses How many times have I gone up on Capitol Hill and said, "Why don't you strengthen the consumer protection laws and why don't you end these corporate subsidies? And why don't you get full health insurance and living wage?" And they always say well we can't get it through because Republicans will stop us. No more excuses. If there's a Democratic landslide we're going to put so much heat on Congress and the White House that they're going to have to move for the American people and stop succumbing to the demands of their corporate pay masters.

Ron Allen: And if there was one idea or one thing you would like to accomplish, of if there was one part of a platform or a policy proposal that McCain or Obama or the Democrats or Republicans were willing to adopt that would say, that would make Ralph Nader say "Okay, I'll stop running for president I'll join you" what would it be? What would have to happen for you not to do this?

Ralph Nader: Well that they take the populist positions that we have on our website and --

Ron Allen: The whole thing?

Ralph Nader: They're very long overdue. Western Europe has most of them, out of the rubble of WWII full health insurance, living wage, decent pensions, four weeks paid vacation, university free tuition at public universities. The kind of elementary civilized benefits like paid maternity leave, paid family sick leave, decent day care, they've had these for years and we're the richest country in the world. Barack Obama and John McCain will not come out for these straight and clear.

Ron Allen: That sounds like a very socialistic position.

Ralph Nader: Well it's called a Social-Democratic position in Europe and basically to me it's just elementary humanity because if we really love our country we will have to love the people in our country and people who are poor or disabled or otherwise disadvantaged but work hard and want to play a role in our society and raise their children why can't we give them a lending hand?

Ron Allen: And lastly, why -- why is someone not wasting their vote if they vote for you?

Ralph Nader: Because they'll be voting for their conscience. They'll be voting for what a middle-aged man told me in Syracuse recently when he came up to me and he said, "I'm voting for myself, therefore I'm voting for Ralph Nader."

Ron Allen: Meaning?

Ralph Nader: Meaning -- meaning that for forty years I've demonstrated that I will not succumb to corporate power, I will not be tempted by corporate accouterments. I will stand for the people of this country from A to Z, I will stand for their just treatment by the powers that be whether they be in Wall Street or whether they be in Washington.

Ron Allen: And again what is -- when you look back on this campaign months from now what will -- what will have made it a success? What does it take to make this a success for you?

Ralph Nader: Well we're turning a corner on the violations of candidates' civil liberties by winning cases to break down the ballot access barriers in many states that deny voters a choice. These are Jim Crow type laws to keep candidates off the ballot and without candidate rights, voter rights aren't worth as much because voters won't have a choice. That's a clear trend that we are advancing. Number two, we keep alive a future progressive enlightenment in our country. All of the things that are so overdue that the American people need and deserve and are being denied because of the concentration of power and wealth in so few hands. Number three and the most gratifying for me is the young people who are volunteering, who are going to be the political leaders of the future, who are learning the skills of clean political activity.

Ron Allen: And do you still think that you can be an effective messenger for that cause, again, given the last number of years that you've run unsuccessfully, the criticism that you've endured, the fact that a significant number of people don't take you seriously you still think you can be an effective messenger?

Ralph Nader: Well I take the American people seriously and that's enough for me. But I remember the famous progressive writer I.F. Stone who once said that every social justice in this country started by people who lost and who lost and who lost but in the process of losing built more and more support for the breakthrough that made this a better country. So I am not afraid to keep losing and losing as long as we are expanding awareness and galvanizing energies of the American people for a better future.

Nightly News has the video of the report from last night as well as the interview Allen conducted with Nader (the latter is a "web only" feature). Warning, the clip will quickly feature the gutter trash of MSNBC including IDIOT Rachel Maddow -- the War Hawk Elaine caused to meltdown back in 2005. So Rachel The Dog Face Anchor likes to brag about her alleged big brain and yet the IDIOT has no idea that there's a difference between Socialism and Communism. (People, she's a dumb ass.) Ralph Nader has been blocked out by many outlets -- including the alleged public airwaves of PBS -- so when NBC Nightly News does a report on him, we will open the snapshot with it. It is big news.

Today US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates spoke about the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement.
David Morgan (Reuters) reports that Gates declared, "I don't think you slam the door shut, but I would say it's pretty far closed." Meaning no more discussing the 'text' with those silly people who think they should have a say -- what do they think Iraq is, their own country? That really is the attitude and how much of that is genuine and how much of that is for-show (to attempt to make the Iraqis think it's a take-it-or-leave-it offer) no one knows but he used one of the oldest ploys, "Clearly, the clock is ticking." What has Gates so touchy? Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post) explains, "The Iraqi cabinet Tuesday called for reopening negotiations over a draft agreement to keep U.S. forces in this country beyond 2008, in the most serious sign yet that the accord is in trouble." Sheridan notes that Michael Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "We are clearly running out of time." It's a mantra. Expect Condi Rice to next declare, "Tick-tick-tick." For the US administration, it all fell apart today with reports that Iraqis were not going to be easily bullied. Damien McElroy (Telegraph of London) explained that, "in a sign that opposition is growing to a prolonged American presence, the largest political faction issued a statement demanding additonal revisions" in the treaty. And AFP reported that the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Michael Mullen, is attempting to bully Iraq into approving the treaty and that "Admiral Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also charged that Iran was working hard to scuttle passage of the so-called Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA." Mullen's bluster betrays the calm the US State Dept attempted to project at yesterday's press briefing where deputy spokesperson Robert Wood attempted to act as if everything was fine and dandy and kept stressing the democratic process, refused to speculate on going to the United Nations to talk of possibly extending the mandate which expires December 31st and is the only legal framework that allows foreign forces on Iraqi soil. BBC notes Gates' foot stomping and that he "has warned of 'dramatic consequences'." Despite the threats, so far, Iraq isn't immediately buckling. CNN reports, "The Iraqi government has unanimously agreed that a security pact with the United States lacks "some necessary amendments," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Tuesday." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) puts it a little more bluntly, "The Iraqi Cabinet dealt a blow today to a draft agreement to allow US forces to stay in Iraq beyond the end of the year, demanding changes to the document to make it more acceptable. The nature of the amendments were not specified, but Iraqi MPs said there are concerns about the lack of a guaranteed date for US forces to withdraw. Another worry is whether Iraqi courts would in practice be able to try US soldiers who commit serious crimes. There are even gripes about differing interpretations in parts of the US and the Arabic versions of the draft accord." At the White House, spokesperson Dana Perino declared of the process, "Well, we knew it was going to take a little while to get this done. I think we feel pretty comfortable with the strategic framework agreement. That is a broader document; it talks about our relationship moving forward on the political and economic issues. The strategic -- I'm sorry, the status of forces agreement is a little bit more complicated. We knew that the Iraqis would have several steps to go through. I saw reports that they want to -- today, and the Council of Ministers have suggested that they want to see some changes. I don't think we have seen those yet. And I'll let the negotiators in Baghdad talk about that when they get them." At the US State Department today, spokesperson Sean McCormack stated he had not used the term "final draft" and he hasn't, he's called it "a text" nearly throughout. He also stated, "We believe that this is a good text. We wouldn't have had the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense making phone calls about this text if we didn't think it was a good text. So we'll see what the Iraqi comments are." And what of the puppet of the occupation? CBS and AP report Nouri "Al-Maliki wants his coalition Cabinet to sign off before sending it to parliament. Al-Maliki fears he could end up politically isolated if he pushes forward with the agreement without solid national backing."

In other US and Iraqi relations, on the topic of Iraqi Christians,
Niraj Warikoo (Detroit Free Press) covers today's rally in support of Iraqi Christians "held by the Network of Iraqi-American Organizations and the Michigan Christians of Mosul Relief Committee. After the rally, some are to travel to Washington D.C. to express their concerns to U.S. government officials, members of Congress, and the Iraqi embassy." Assyrian International News Agency explains this evening's rally will be "at the Mother of God Chaldean Church Hall, 25585 Berg Road, Southfield, MI 48033. The rally will start at 5:30 PM." Philip Pullella (Reuters) reports, "The Vatican on Tuesday called on the Iraqi government and human rights groups to do more to protect Christians in Mosul, where half of the minority community has fled after attacks and threats.Pope Benedict's spokesman, the Reverend Federico Lombardi, told Reuters that the Vatican was asking itself if there was 'insufficient willingness' on the part of Iraqi authorities to protect Christians. 'We are extremely worried about what we are hearing from Iraq,' Lombardi said."

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


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded four people and a Baghdad mortar attack that wounded five people.


CNN reports Mowaffak Merhi ("department director for Iraq's largest oil refinery") was shot dead in Shirqat today.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Mosul and, dropping back to yesterday, 9 discovered in Latifiya.

In the US a vote on Iraq flares up like a club and lands on John Kerry's face. The US Senator was more than happy to back Barack Obama and to rip Hillary Clinton to shreds for voting for the 2002 authorization and now it's come back to bite him in the ass.
Mike Underwood (Boston Herald) reports Kerry's Republican challenger Jeff Beatty declared in last night's debate that Kerry had "blood on his hands" and "You knew. You knew when you voted for that war that we didn't have what we needed for the war . . . and you didn't care because it was always about getting elected president. You have got blood on your hands." Kerry denied it but Underwood leaves out whether or not he did so before first checking his own hands.

In US presidential race news, Green Party presidential candidate
Cynthia McKinney will appear Wednesday October 22nd on NPR's Talk of the Nation and Saturday October 25 on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday.

The Republican presidential nominee is John McCain and Sarah Palin is his running mate.
Matt Lira posts this to the
McCain-Palin campaign blog:ICYMI: Chicago Superintendent Gives Obama An F The former head of the Chicago education system has spoken out against Barack Obama. The education foundation headed by Barack Obama "failed to monitor projects and funded school 'reform' groups that campaigned against boosting academic standards."Paul Vallas, who was the superintendent of the Chicago school system when Obama chaired the Chicago Annenberg Foundation, said "There was a total lack of accountability. If you went back and asked, you'd be hard-pressed to find out how the money was spent."Click here to read the full article.

McCain-Palin also note that Govenor Tim Pawlentry believes John McCain is ready to be president on day one, "John McCain is respected around the world because of his national security, military, and foreign affairs experience. The country is struggingly economically and in many other ways and we don't need the added pressure of some sort of invitation or tempation by others to see that kind of weakness. This is not coming from me or from somebody on our side, this is coming from his own vice presidential candidate, Joe Biden, who repeatedly has suggested Barack Obama's not ready." Delilah Boyd (A Scriverner's Lament) has the run down on Biden's statements (the sort called out in 2004 when Republicans made them during a presidential election).

And Ralph Nader and his running mate Matt Gonzalez released the following "
Brief Statement on War, Education:"

The United States, through its various agencies and aid programs, touts itself as a leader in global humanitarian and educational assistance. A glance through USAID's FY 2008 Budget Appropriations report indeed reveals an extensive list of programs broken down by country to which our government is donating. But while the list may run long and cover a wide range of programs, the amount of cash this country sends overseas in assistance nowhere near matches the amount it spends to fight Bush's costly, illegal wars.At a rate of $14 million per hour, 24 hours per day, the US spends roughly the same amount of money occupying and destroying Iraq in one hour as it does annually to fund the three American universities in the Middle East (The American University of Beirut, The American University in Cairo, and The Lebanese American University).This demonstrates the folly of a foreign policy based on militarist interventionism as opposed to a foreign policy driven by true humanitarian principles. A humanitarian foreign policy is much less costly and much more effective in both the short and longterm, especially if more democracy is the goal at home and abroad.One can only imagine how much support and goodwill we would find around the world if we spent a significant fraction more overseas promoting education and knowledge rather than wasting hundreds of billions devastating and destabilizing entire countries, regions, and their peoples.To truly gain credibility and earn trust as a humanitarian superpower, the US must reverse its current foreign policy by immediately ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and ending all military aid and supplies to Israel used to brutalize its Arab neighbors. Instead, we need to use some of those funds to invest in education and help rebuild the nations we destroyed and the much larger amounts to rebuild the public works and infrastructure inside the United States. Good jobs are created in both places.

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