Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Dave Zirin interviews Nader

Wednesday! One day until the weekend! (Because Friday is the Fourth!) :D I'm really excited. Hope you are too.

First, as promised, here's a taste of Dave Zirin's "Talkin' Sports With Ralph Nader:"

DZ:When did you become a sports fan?
RN: I was really taken by Lou Gehrig when I was a little boy because of his demeanor and his stamina. Remember, he played in over 2,000 consecutive games at that time, which was since eclipsed by Cal Ripken. But you know how everyone has a sports hero when they're a boy? This one really stayed with me. The concept of stamina and persistence. And it turned me into a Yankees fan.
DZ: Persistence is a word that a lot of people associate with you in your public life. Is Gehrig an inspiration in this regard?
RN: Oh, most definitely. There's only one picture in my office on the wall, only one: Lou Gehrig.
DZ: When did you realize that League of Fans was a project you wanted to be involved in?
RN: Well, actually there's a precursor. We had a fans' group in the 1970s that put out a very probing newsletter. The idea then was how fans are being ripped off; they had no voice; they had no organized role. They were being overcharged. They were being subjected to blackouts in their hometown for example, if the stadium didn't sell out. This was also the beginning of a move for tax-funded stadiums and ballparks. There were really quite a lot of issues. We had 1,000 dues-paying members, but we couldn't get it beyond that. But my desire was to have fans organize--because after all, they're consumers. They're consumers at the service of mammoth sports enterprises that have antitrust exemptions, that have all sorts of tax-depreciating rights for their players.
I mean, it's almost a mint to produce money. They gouged the fans as consumers; parking, food, tickets, and they gouged them as taxpayers too. So it was really a composite situation that is replayed throughout the economy between large corporations and consumers. Since, as sports fans, we're very, very clever and understanding of the rules of the game, the strategies and the players, and...know the history of the players and teams and [are] loyal to the teams, I said, "Imagine if voters did their homework, and imagine if voters had that kind of tactical and strategic sense. Imagine voters who rooted for rookies--if voters wanted to give new candidates a chance to play on the field. So we started, and once again we came up with all kinds of needs to organize fans--especially to oppose tax-funded stadiums while clinics, libraries and schools were crumbling in the same cities for lack of public investment.
There was over $600 million dollars
spent to build the new Washington Nationals' baseball stadium, but if you look around Washington, DC, you see schools crumbling, clinics--the usual urban deterioration. And not enough recreational facilities for youngsters so they can engage in participatory sports, not just spectator sports.

That's a sample of the interview. Use the link to read in full. Link goes to Zirin's website. I was waiting and waiting for it to show up at Dissident Voice or Information Clearing House and it hasn't. C.I. heard me whine on the phone today and said, "Mike, I'm sure it's at Dave's site." It was. :D I didn't want to link to OpEdNews. I'm not interested in the sewers that lied to destroy Hillary. I'm not interested in giving them traffic.

But I did want to link to the interview. So if you're boycotting undemocratic sites (telling anyone to drop out of a race is undemocratic) and want to read it, you can use the link and go to Zirin's site. It's really a great interview.

I was going to write more but I've spent forever on the phone laughing as Wally and Cedric auditioned their latest. (C.I.'s still speaking so I was happy to play audience.) It's either just gone up or will shortly. Read it. Tom Hayden whined to Cedric about something he thinks Wally and Cedric wrote. Tonight (after searching the archives for days to dtermine they had never written about Tommy in their joint-posts, they reply to him). For the record, you're an idiot if you e-mail to a website to complain about something and don't have the brains to say when it ran or the title. (Tommy can't even quote what has him so offended. I told Elaine and she said, "Figures. After I wrote about his trashy come on during his last marriage, you know he knows to stay the hell away from me. And we all know he's scared of pissing C.I. off.")

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, July 2, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Corey Glass gets big news, 'discussions' in Iraq (at the direction of DC), attacks on Iraqi judges continue, and more.

Starting with war resistance. In a dramatic development for US war resister Corey Glass, currently residing in Canada, there are no charges against him.
May 21st was when Corey Glass was told he would be deported. Corey Glass is an Iraq War veteran and a US war resister. He went to Canada seeking asylum -- the kind of welcoming Canada provided to war resisters ("draft dodgers" and "deserters") during Vietnam. After being told he was being deported, he's been 'extended' through July 10th. June 3rd Canada's House of Commons voted (non-binding motion) in favor of Canada being a safe harbor for war resisters. This morning Russell Goldman (ABC News) reported: "Unbeknownst to him and his legion of supporters, Glass, 25, was actually discharged from the U.S. Army shortly after he went AWOL in 2006. . . . According to U.S. Army documents and officials Glass was discharged from the California National Guard on Dec. 1, 2006, four months after he arrived in Canada and six months after he failed to show up to a required muster." Goldman quotes Corey stating, "I had absolutely no idea that I had been discharged. This is insane. This is so weird. There are no warrants? No one is looking for me?" According to Major Nathan Banks, the US military does not consider Glass AWOL or a deserter, there are no charges against Glass and Glass is out of the military.

Events planned are still being held. Corey Glass is not the only US war resister in Canada and he is also not necessarily in the clear. In the US, Courage to Resist is planning "
July 9th actions at Canadian Consulates nationwide:"Join a vigil and delegation to a Canadian consulate near you on Wednesday, July 9th to support war resisters! On the eve of Corey Glass' possible deportation, we will demand, "Dear Canada: Abide by the June 3rd resolution - Let U.S. war resisters stay!" More details and cities to be confirmed soon!
Washington DC - Time TBA - 501 Pennsylvania Ave NW (
map). Sponsored by Veterans for Peace. Info: TBA San Francisco - Noon to 1pm - 580 California St (map). Sponsored by Courage to Resist. Info: 510-488-3559; courage(at) Seattle - Time TBA - 1501 4th Ave (map). Sponsored by Project Safe Haven. Info: 206-499-1220; projectsafehaven(at) Dallas - Time TBA - 750 North St Paul St (map). Sponsored by North Texas for Justice and Peace. Info: 214-718-6362; hftomlinson(at) New York City - Noon to 1pm - 1251 Avenue of the Americas (map). Sponsored by War Resisters' League. Info: 212-228-0450; wrl(at) Philadelphia - Time TBA - 1650 Market St (map). Sponsored by Payday Network. Info: 215-848-1120; payday(at) Minneapolis - Time TBA - 701 Fourth Ave S (map). Info: TBA Los Angeles - Noon to 1pm - 550 South Hope St (map). Sponsored by Progressive Democrats LA. Info: pdlavote(at) Help organize a vigil at one of these other Canadian Consulates: Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Anchorage, Houston, Raleigh, Phoenix, or San Diego. Please contact Courage to Resist at 510-488-3559. Veterans for Peace issued a joint call with Courage to Resist and Project Safe Haven for July 9th vigils at Canadian Consulates: "Dear Canada: Do Not Deport U.S. War Resisters!" Contact us if you can help organize a vigil, or can otherwise get involved. Locations of the 22 Canadian Consulates in the United States.Recently on June 3rd the Canadian Parliament passed an historic motion to officially welcome war resisters! It now appears, however, that the Conservative government may disregard the motion. Iraq combat veteran turned courageous war resister, 25-year-old Sgt. Corey Glass of the Indiana National Guard is still scheduled to be deported July 10th.We will ask that the Canadian government respect the democratic decision of Parliament, the demonstrated opinion of the Canadian citizenry, the view of the United Nations, and millions of Americans by immediately implementing the motion and cease deportation proceedings against Corey Glass and other current and future war resisters. Join Courage to Resist, Veterans for Peace, and Project Safe Haven at Canadian Consulates across the United States (Washington DC, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles confirmed--more to be announced).We mailed and delivered over 10,000 of the original letters to Canadian officials. Please sign the new letter, "Dear Canada: Abide by resolution - Let U.S. war resisters stay!"
War Resisters Support Campaign will hold a "Rally to Stop the Deportation of Parkdale Resident Corey Glass" July 3rd, begins at 7:00 p.m. (with doors opening at six p.m.) at the May Robinson Building, 20 West Lodge, Toronto: "In 2002, Corey joined the Indiana National Guard. He was told he would not have to fight on foreign shores. But in 2005 he was sent to Iraq. What he saw there caused him to become a conscientious objector and he came to Canada. On May 21, 2008, he got his final order to leave Canada by July 10, 2008. Then on June 3 Parliament passed a motion for all the war resisters to stay in Canada. However the Harper government says it will ignore this motion." They are also asking for a July 2nd call-in. Diane Finley is the Immigration and Citizenship Minister and her phone numbers are (613) 996-4974 and (519) 426-3400 -- they also provide her e-mail addresses ("minister" at "") and ("finled1" at "").

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

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

Turning to Iraq,
Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that, unlike the US Congress, the Iraqi Parliament is postponing the summer vaction. Zavis reports that this is said to be in response to the allegedly upcoming provinical elections and the failure to pass the legislation that the US White House wants. For those remember last summer, the Iraqi Parliament was under criticism last year for taking a summer break. They ended up taking one resulting in some harsh criticism from inside the US. Meanwhile Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) paints a portrait (intentionally or not) of Iraqis being conned: Hoshyar Zebari (Iraq's Foreign Minister) declares that immunity for contractors has been lifted and Iraq might have control of their own air space and . . . . Who is advising Iraqis on these contracts? Attorneys for the White House? The US State Department? Doubt it? James Hider (Times of London) speaks with a contractor who explains what the 'law' says and the 'reality': "But bringing to book any Western security guards accused of shooting civilians would be difficult, the contractor noted. 'If it's someone like Blackwater, nine times out of ten the individual is spirited out of the country'." Zebari was talking it up in Baghdad again today. Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reports that Zebari declared at a Baghdad press conference today, "We have reached a comfortable stage of negotiations and the differences have been narrowed." As Raghavan and the Los Angeles Times' Doug Smith and Raheem Salman all note, Zebari is talking 'concessions' already (on both sides!). That would put the US client-state in an even weaker position. And is anyone else starting to note that 'progress' always 'happens' when Jalal Talabani is absent? Fresh from having the Mayo Clinic unplog his arteries, the ever-expanding Jalal Talabani is back in the news. BBC reports that yesterday, in Athens, Jalal (attending a conference, he wasn't there for sunbathing) shooks hands with Irsrael's Defense Minister Ehud Barak. And that Talabani's office quickly issued a "statement [which] said he was responsding to a request from Mr Abbas and was acting as leader of his Kurcihs party and deputy president of the Sociliast International, not as Iraq's president." Finishing the Talabani portion, Turkish Daily News reports he "was elected to a vice-chairmanship in the Socialist International over the leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, who avoided attending the summit in Greece and therefore was not nominated". On the issue of the treaty, Watching America has translated Palestinian Writer's piece (written for al Jazeera):

The first step in getting Iraq out from underneath its catastrophe is the withdrawal of American troops. . . . The most stunning of those who fear for an Iraq in which the Americans leave are those who want to sign a security agreement with the Bush administration, or an American-Iraqi treaty which is now on the agenda and of which some items have already been leaked. It gives the right for the occupation to stay in Iraq for an indefinite amount of time of up to several years, or even a permanent occupation. And with a permanent occupation would come a permanent catastrophe that would be renewed and everlasting. Signing a security agreement or a militay/political/security treaty alongside the crime that is the proposed oil agreement would require a hand in treachery to Iraq, to Arabs and to Muslims, under any and all circumstances.

Meanwhile the
United Arab Emirates' The National sees talk that the Sunni bloc -- (Tawafaq Front) boycotting for a year now -- might return to the Iraqi Parliament as a sign of optimism. Remember that in a few weeks. (False hopes always die hard.) Closer to reality, Sabrina Tavernise reported today: "Another judge was the target of an intimidation campaign on Tuesday, at least the sixth in two days, in a trend that has alarmed Iraq's judiciary. A bomb was placed near the house of Judge Qusay al-Bayati, of the Court of Appeals in eastern Baghdad. The judges previously attacked were on the same court. The bomb was defused and did not explode."

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


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a US military camp in Baghdad was the target of an attack early this morning which started with exchanges of gunfire and then had "two 107mm rockets" fired at it (according to the US military) and 2 civilians were killed when the US returned fire, three Baghdad roadside bombings resulting in 2 deaths and nine people wounded


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Azad Argoshi was kidnapped Wednesday morning and later "found in very bad shape".


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 corpses discovered in Baghdad.

Turning to the US presidential race. Barack Obama continues to attempt to prove he is patriotic. Meanwhile this is how Ralph Nader described the country to
Jim Lehrer (PBS' NewsHour) in 2000, "Well there are ups and downs. Obviously the slavery period was counteracted by the antislavery movement, women got the right to vote, workers got the right to form trade unions. They built the middle class. As they say, they gave us our weekend, they gave us benefits. The farmers' popular progressive movement against the banks and railroads companies that leavened power more; it gave people a chance to have more voice. So I think we have to look back at our history and say why is it every time concentrated power got too much and social justice movements opposed them, and the dominant business community opposed a social justice movement and finally lost, America was better as a result. Everybody benefited, including the businesses because democracy tends to expand markets." In 2000 at this time, Nader was coming in at four-percent in most polls. The most recent CNN-Opinion Research Poll found him to be holding at 6%.

On the Iraq War, while Barack wants credit for a speech he 'gave' in 2002 (online recording is a 're-creation'), what has he done since? While Barack was supporting Bully Boy's illegal war throughout 2004 and stating repeatedly that he didn't know how he would have voted if he had been in the Senate, Ralph Nader knew where he stood in 2004: "Every day our exposed military remains in war-torm Iraq, we impreil U.S. security, drain our economy, ignore urgent domestic needs, and prevent Iraqi demonstratic self-rule. We need to announace a withdrawal of our troops, not increase them." In May of 2004, speaking to the Council of/for/from Foreign Relations, he would explain (in the belly of the beast): "After 9-11, it's now become quite clear that whatever emphasis there was on the al Qaeda apparatus, there was a superior emphasis on removing Saddam Hussein from Iraq. What's interesting about this is the following. It illustrated -- in ways perhaps never before illustrated in our country -- the fragility of our democratic institutiatons. Here is a nation run by a tottering dictator presiding over a diplated army, with troops not willing to fight for him, surrounded by hostile Kurds to the north, hostile Shiites to the south, surrounded by three very powerful countries compared to his military ability: Iran, Turkey and Israel. And had he directed one aggressive threat toward any of them, they would have obliterated his regime. And yet Iraq under Hussein was viewed as a threat to the United States? But what was most troubling was the lack of any deliberative process by the US Congress which was stampeded into this situation, lack of any deliberative or investigative process by the mass media which clicked their heels and loved the graphics that they were given, and without a deliberative attentiveness to the perceived concerns of the American people. Before the invasion of Iraq, we tried to have Bush meet with one or more distinct groups in our country who had knowledge and were concerned about the invasion of Iraq. Thirteen of these groups, with very little press attention, wrote open letters to President Bush in February and early March, asking for a meeting. They included letters signed by the National Council of Churches, former military officers, former intelligence officials, student groups, women's peace advocates, a business group, labor group. I don't know of any other impending hostility that had such an ecumentical coming-together, expressing doubt and opposition to the pending move. None of these letters were answered by the White House. There were no meetings. President Bush, being the messianic militarist that we've come to know so well, was not interested in meeting with anyone who was critical of his proposed Iraq policies. That was a severe scar on our democratic fabric."

Steve Holland (Reuters) notes Barack's "flexibility" and "nuance on Iraq". Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report), endorsing Cynthia McKinney (presumed Green Party nominee), observes, " The true voices of peace speak clearly, in simple language. 'The U.S. should withdraw all troops and mercenaries from Iraq in as orderly a fashion as possible,' says former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, candidate for the Green Party's presidential nomination. 'This withdrawal should be quickly accomplished, since the troops and the equipment were all pre-positioned in the area to start with, at the start of the invasion'."

Team Nader notes:

Here's something you can do right now for Nader/ Gonzalez.
Donate six dollars now.
Why six dollars, you may ask?
Because yesterday, CNN reported that Ralph Nader is at six percent in its most
recent national poll.
And while the flip-floppers Obama and McCain might look down on six percent, we are excited.
Our goal of course is much higher.
Right now, our goal is ten percent in the national polls.
Why ten percent?
Because ten percent gets us into the Google sponsored
debates in New Orleans on September 18.
If we get on the Google sponsored debates, we're convinced Nader/Gonzalez will move toward 20 percent.
At twenty percent, people see a three way race.
When people see a three way race, everything is possible.
And we believe that in this momentous election year, everything is possible.
But right now our motto is as follows:
Get it done.
Now, what exactly do we mean by get it done?
We mean get Ralph Nader on the ballot in at least 45 states (Ralph was on only 34 in 2004)
Here's our ambitious ballot access timetable:
Ten states by July 6.
Fifteen states by July 20.
Thirty states by August 8.
Forty states by September 1.
Forty five states by September 15.
Right now, we're in stage one: ten states by July 6.
And we're in the middle of the stage one fundraising campaign.
Right now, we need to raise $40,000 by July 6, 2008.
Thanks to your generous donations, we're at $27,672.
But we want to get to ten states as soon as possible.
So, help us blow by our $40,000 goal early.
If we can get stage one done early, then we can move onto stage two ahead of schedule.
So, please, drop a six spot
here now.
There's nowhere to go but up.
Together, we are making a difference.

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