Friday, October 17, 2008

Interview with C.I.

The weekend! Yea! :D I planned to do a follow up to yesterday's post but when I called Martha she said, "Aren't you interviewing C.I.?" Huh?

Stopping to add, for this post, I'm mentioning:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
And the piece we're talking about re: Texas at the end is Ava and C.I.'s "TV: Some moments should stay undercover"

No one said a word to me about it. I thought she was mistaken but then Elaine told me she meant to mention it. So I called C.I. after the Iraq study group and did the interview and I am a slow and bad typist. So forgive errors.

Okay, Elaine tells me I'm interviewing because you're talking briefly about the treatment.

C.I.: Right. It's now over and it's wait and see time. I was mentioning to Elaine that something needed to go up and I didn't want to write it. She suggested an interview and I said "no" because I could at least control what went up -- in terms of details -- if I wrote it myself. She suggested you do the interview.

Because I don't know that much about the topic so I'll stay general. But I understand that's just one topic and I can ask anything else, right?

C.I.: Right. But I don't have to answer.

Okay, well, the treatment is completed and it's wait and see, you said. The question I kept getting was about if it was really hard to do The Common Ills and all when you were obviously feeling sick each day?

C.I.: Some days it was hard. Some days it was easy. It's like that at other times as well. In terms of with this current stage, it gave me something to focus on. Something outside of myself.

I understand we're not mentioning [deleted].

C.I.: Why would we? She's certainly tried to grab enough insta-fame off my name.

But I think we can all assume that her actions were hurtful.

C.I.: I named the cancer after her. Both are destructive. Next question, next topic.

This week especially, I noticed some bits of humor and wondered if I was wrong in seeing that in the morning entries?

C.I.: I was just glad that the treatments were almost over and let a little giddy slip in. I really had to curb it. At one point, I was thinking about posting a video. "It's The Little Things."

Sonny & Cher! I know that song. "It's the little things that mean a lot/ It's what you are babe, not what you got . . ."

C.I.: "Call my name and I come running/ Look at me and the clouds start sunning/ I don't know what it is about you/ But there ain't no way, I could live without you." BA-bah-bah-BA-bah-bah-bah-BA-BA-BA. I skipped several lines of that chorus.

It's from a movie. Good Times? Right?

C.I.: Right.

And you were going to post the video because?

C.I.: I was just in that kind of a mood.

Fair enough. Iraqi Christians. That's been a big topic at TCI for like nine or ten days now. And I know religion is like the last thing you ever want to write about.

C.I.: Yes, it is. I think it was Wednesday evening that a friend with an organization -- non-religious organization -- began saying I needed to tackle it. I heard that from several friends at the UN and the Red Cross the next day -- this would two Thursdays ago. I felt others would grab it and I was told it wasn't really being grabbed. So I called back the friend originally trying to steer me to the topic and said, "Okay, explain it to me." And it was really illuminating in terms of seeing how it was covered or ignored. CNN has covered it seriously and continuously. Others? No. And the worst have been Panhandle Media. Maybe, like me, they'd rather cover other things.

But if it were an attack on Shia or Sunni, they'd cover it.

C.I.: I believe that as well.

Who do you think is behind it?

C.I.: No one knows. At this point, no one knows. There are theories acribing the blame to every known group. But no one knows.

When you started covering it, what were you hoping for and what did you try to do?

C.I.: On the last, tried to give a variety of voices. It's a story about Christians so Christian outlets were obviously going to have to be included. I tried to go with as many as possible and, due to the Vatican's stance on the illegal war -- against -- and do to the fact that the Pope has so much authority with the mainstream press, I attempted to include their commentaries whenever possible. After that, I was attempting to show that the outrage was not confined to one region or, for that matter, one religion. What was I hoping for? At this late stage, very little. Panhandle Media's not interested in Iraq as they've made abundantly clear over and over. I was mainly trying to grab something that domestically is not being covered the way it should be and make sure that I didn't fall into the same silence.

It's a horrifying story --

C.I.: It really is.

If you were going to fault anyone, who would it be?

C.I.: Nouri al-Maliki. He's the one installed, he's the one who has refused to protect the Iraqi people repeatedly. When it became a news story -- internationally if not nationally -- he was forced to issue statements about actions he was taking but, if you paid attention, you saw the long delay between statements and action. He announced this was happening, that was happening but in Mosul, word traveled faster than action. But, let's point out, that's been how he's handled every crisis -- over and over.

And we're talking about the attacks on Iraqi Christians in Mosul causing them to flee. Some have called it an attempt at "liquidation." Do you agree?

C.I.: I don't think many know enough -- I certainly don't -- to make that call. In terms of that description, it came from someone very familiar with the area. We quoted that. I don't know that I've applied that term in my own statements -- I don't believe I have -- but I'm not saying the priest was wrong. Whatever you call it is frightening.

So as someone who didn't want to cover the topic, has it been difficult?

C.I.: No, it's been surprisingly easy. I try to find stuff but mainly utilize friends for where to look. We've quoted a great deal of MidEast media. They've actually been very vocal on the topic and on the need for the attacks to stop. Much more so than our own domestic media.

Any big surprises?

C.I.: There was a Christian organization I was going to quote in today's snapshot that was recommend by a journalist and I called him back and said, "It's not that they're right-wing" because clearly, with this topic, you have to go with whomever's going to cover it "but it is that they don't know their facts." They were creative with the number killed and the number who had fled. Today, or Friday because I'm not sure when you'll post this, they were on the story for the first time and they were using figures that just aren't realistic. I was actually surprised that so many in the US, so many Christian outlets, weren't covering it. CBN did cover it early on, and I assume still does. I didn't link to that because there were other things to link to. But, to be clear, I wasn't referring to CBN getting their facts wrong. I was talking about an organization, not an outlet, getting their facts wrong.

In Mosul, they have a connection to the Catholic Church which may be why the Vatican and the Catholic Church outlets all over the world have covered it.

C.I.: I imagine that to be the case. They have a priest in the area, they have a priest who was kidnapped and killed in Mosul back in February. They have nuns in the area.

But even with the Pope condemning the violence, Big Media in this country really didn't go after this story.

C.I.: I'm not seeing it. CNN is the exception. The New York Times filed their first story on it Monday. They filed nothing today -- Friday -- and their coverage on it hasn't been that great. Monday's article, however, was strong. Alissa J. Rubin and Stephen Farrell wrote that.

As bad as the deaths have been, the refugees from Mosul is pretty bad as well.

C.I.: Yes and it's a larger number of people. It's also true that in 2007 many Iraqi Christians were leaving Baghdad due to the violence and threats there and moving to Mosul because they thought it was safer. Not all who have fled were originally from Baghdad. Mosul has a long tradition of housing Iraqi Christians. But there are these new internal refugees being created and, equally true, some of the refugees had already fled Baghdad.

I found a thing online this evening that said, and I'm sure you disagree, it was Muslims versus Christians.

C.I.: Yeah and you know why I disagree. Whomever is responsible is a small group -- otherwise, the death toll would have been higher. Muslims and Christians have co-existed in Mosul for some time. This is something new. And it's a small group regardless of who it is that's doing the violence. But I think that may account for some of the lack of coverage -- fear of it playing out as "Muslims go after Christians!" But that's already emerging as a narrative at right-wing organizations in this country. The smart thing to do would have been to get on top of the story before that narrative emerged. The Iraqi Christians in Mosul are being targeted because they're Christians. Just as external refugees include a large number of Christians. But to imply that it's "the Muslims" in what is a country whose majority population is Muslim is ignoring the fact that whomever is responsible -- and it might be an outside agent -- is a small group. In Mosul, it's a small group and that's what friends with organizations in Iraq feel as well due to the number of deaths not being higher. What I'm trying to say is no Muslim leader issued an edict that an entire group of followers immediately took up. Were that the case, you'd have deaths in the sixties at a minimu. This isn't coming from a religious leader. The attacks might be due to the provincial elections -- which may or may not take place in January -- or any other number of issues.

Okay. Another issue you've been hitting on is the treaty which is now -- what is the administration calling it? Not SOFA, but the other thing?

C.I.: Text?

Right. They won't call it an "agreement."

C.I.: If it were an agreement, it would have to be immediately shown to the Senate. So they're playing word games. The same way they insist it's a Status Of Force Agreement and not a treaty.

Do you think Bully Boy can push it through before Congress is back in session?

C.I.: That really depends upon how quickly the Iraqis move and everyone I've talked to -- including friends at the State Department -- insist that there is huge pressure coming from the US to force this through. The Parliament would be the most likely resistance. But who knows how al-Maliki intends to 'reward' votes? Iraq's Sunni vice president has voiced displeasure with the agreement.

How did Article 50 -- the thing that gave religious minorities representation in the Parliament -- get stripped out?

C.I.: The easiest answer is that the census was never done that. That's the reason the Parliament has given. Whether it was more than that or not, who knows? But it's really interesting how everyone wants to act shocked after the fact. I'm referring to al-Maliki and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and now the Kudristan region's president as well.

And the press ran with the lie -- which you were calling out in real time -- that, as al-Maliki said a few weeks ago, after the presidency council signed it into law, Article 50 could be added back in.

C.I.: They did run with that. No, it couldn't happen. They can propose a different piece of legislation that would put it in. But to tack it onto what had been passed by the Parliament would require that they vote again. You can't pass something and then take away from it or add to it without a vote. It was amazing to see so many journalists either ignorant of the legislative process or else willing to just repeat what they were told.

Should the press -- domestic press -- be calling it a treaty, the SOFA, because that's what it is?

C.I.: Ideally, yes. But the administration insists it's not. That's not a pass for them; however. The Congress -- House and Senate -- has been very vocal about it. So, bare minimum, they should be noting that others see it as a treaty or as anything but a SOFA. Congress is one of the three branches of the government in the US. If two branches are at odds, even with the rules of MSM reporting, the reports should be noting that and not merely repeating "It's a SOFA."

Is it Carl Levin who released the statement about the fact that US service members would be punishable in Iraqi courts?

C.I.: Yes. And that's an issue for some people in all political groupings. It's not merely conservatives that always object to that. But conservatives are very vocal in their opposition to it and they tend to be in lock-step on that. That's not calling Levin a conservative, to be clear. Either he realized that was the easiest way to swing public opinion or he honestly feels that way -- and he has raised the issue before in his career. If it's the latter, again, that doesn't make him a conservative. There are many people of all points on the political spectrum who do not like the idea of US service members, stationed by the government in another country, being open to civilian courts in that host country.

Your opinion?

C.I.: On that issue? I can see the pros and the cons to it. I don't have a firmly held opinion on it.

Ralph Nader released a statement today about how the Sunday debate won't take place. Any thoughts on that?

C.I.: Of the non-two-major-party candidates, Ralph has the best fundraising. Cynthia McKinney's campaign -- despite having a political party behind her -- is not nearly as well funded. She was never, as she herself noted today, going to be flying to New York for a debate on Sunday. Bob Barr doesn't want to appear with Chuck Baldwin or Cynthia McKinney as was clear in his refusal to stand alongside them at Ron Paul's recent press conference. Chuck Baldwin's campaign is cash poor.

So there were no confirmations to this?

C.I.: I called Columbia to check on it, Columbia University, on Thursday before including it in the snapshot. They thought it was a go. They were sold on it and, somewhere, there was a breakdown. The university group did not knowingly mislead. They were misled. The misleading did not come from any candidate. Or any campaign. I'll leave it at that.

I grasp what you're saying. So what's the deal with the web debate that would take place Sunday night?

C.I.: Cynthia McKinney states she will be participating in that. Others? No one knows.

Should they have done the Columbia thing?

C.I.: It was a money issue more than anything else. You're asking them to stop campaigning and fly out to New York. It had its benefits including press. But if your campaign can't afford it and there's already a web debate, you're not going to be trying to figure out how to raise enough cash to get to New York.

As you know, a number of community members are trying to figure out who you're voting for. Some assume it's Nader, some assume it's Cynthia.

C.I.: I'm not saying who I'm voting for.

Okay, but everyone knows you're not voting for McCain. So has it been difficult to cover the McCain campaign. Oklahoma community members, I should add, have endored McCain-Palin. In their state, they can't write in and no one's on the ballot except Barack and John.

C.I.: Right. They are the only state that you can't vote for Ralph Nader, by the way. In all other 49 states, you can. In 45 he's listed on the ballot. In the other four, he qualified as a write-in candidate. No, answer to question, it's not a problem. They made their choice and I respect it. I never questioned it or thought, "Oh no." They have nothing to apologize for. They have nothing to explain. It's their vote and they decided. That's how democracy works.

If it were 2004 and they were endorsing Bully Boy, would you feel the same?

C.I.: Yes. And I think I've shared this story -- if I haven't, Rebecca has. A friend, a Latino actor, had a son who was going to be voting for the first time -- due to age -- in the 2004 election. If he voted. They, his parents, couldn't figure out why he wasn't excited or even initiating discussions about the election with them. They were really getting worried about it and I had heard about it several times that month when I was over at their home. I asked, that day, "You want me to talk to him and see if he says anything?" They did so I did. His big concern was safety and, for him, Bully Boy was the better candidate on that issue. He didn't trust John Kerry to keep the country safe. I supported -- voted for and donated to -- John Kerry. But I didn't tell that young man, "You must vote for John Kerry!" There was no reason to, it was his vote. And there was no point in doing so because he knew who he wanted to vote for and he knew why.

How did his parents respond?

C.I.: He knew I had spoken to him because of his parents' concern. We worked out what I'd tell his parents and that's what I did. They weren't thrilled but they respected his decision.

You said that there was no point in trying to change his mind because he knew how he wanted to vote. Talk about that.

C.I.: You can't make someone vote for someone else. People think they can, but you can't. At best, your vocal support will force someone to say -- just to shut you up -- "I see your point. Thanks." But they're not voting for that candidate even if they tell you they are. If their mind is made up, close to an election, it tends to stay that way. Undecideds and weak supporters swing back and forth -- wildly -- up until the last minute. But people who've made up their mind aren't going to be easily talked out of it or pressured into changing their minds.

So Sarah Silverman's whole "tell your Jewish grandparents to vote for Barack"?

C.I.: Publicity seeking nonsense. Unless the grandchild is filling out the ballot for them, the grandparents know their granchildren will have no idea how they voted. So they'll say -- the bulk -- "Oh, of course." But they'll vote the way they want -- as they should, as anyone should.

Okay, someone's blockwalking this weekend or next, how do they factor in what you're saying, how do they get support for their candidate?

C.I.: Block walking should have already stopped. I'm not doing any campaigning for any candidate so maybe it's still going on. But early voting's already started and, generally speaking, the Dems have completed block walking -- for the presidential -- by this point. The unions have already shipped people to areas and paid them to block walk. What the campaigns focus on now, normally, is getting out their voters -- getting them to the polls. But, if someone is block walking this weekend or next for the presidential race, the thing to do is be the best you can. By that, be someone that strangers will like. You're not going to convince anyone. But if you leave that porch and you've made a good impression, it could help sway an undecided who is looking at the ballot and unsure and suddenly thinks about the man or woman who was so nice to talk to and the candidate they were supporting.

Did you always feel that way?

C.I.: No. In my youth, I block walked all the time. And I really believed people who would say, "Yes, I'll vote for your candidate." Then you look at the turnout for that area you block walked -- after the election -- and who won it and you really start to grasp how people were being nice because most people don't want to say, "Hell no, I'm not voting for your candidate, get off my yard!"

Did you ever phone bank?

C.I.: Yes. And I'm thinking of one election, many, many years ago. An incumbent was hideous and I was helping the challenger. Mid-way through the calls, after repeated, "Who are you calling for again? Okay, I'll vote for her," it became obvious that the bulk of the people just wanted to get off the phone and I honestly wondered if bothering some people with a phone call didn't in fact make them decide not to vote for the candidate.

What do you think works?

C.I.: For campaigns or just in terms of influencing a vote?

How about the influencing the vote?

C.I.: Okay, The Washington Post on Thursday and The Los Angeles Times just today endorsed Barack Obama. That doesn't work. Newspaper editorials can have influence. If you're reading the newspaper on a regular basis, you will tend to listen to the editorial endorsement. You may listen because you loathe the paper but most reading a paper regularly like it. But for that editorial to have influence, it's got to come early in the process. By this week, not only had early voting already started in some states, but readers already made up their minds. I think both of those endorsements come too late to reach their readers. The biggest influence for most people is friends. Not family. You can squabble and disagree with your family. But your friends are people you have chosen as your family. You tend to agree with them on many things. It's why I never see the value of shipping anyone in from out of state to drive up support. All you've got is a lot of strangers knocking on doors. From out of the area. When that happens, and in some areas, it has to happen because there's not a lot of local support, the smartest thing you can do is a brief seminar on the area so that the people can toss out something. A new sports venue, a food establishment, whatever. Some way to form a connection. I once, this is going way back to the seventies, while block walking, sat in a home for thirty minutes while a man finished watching his program. I knew the program and was able to talk with him about it. That was a bond that made a difference for his vote. It took away the stranger factor. I've block walked with people who didn't even notice a very carefully cared for rose bush in the front lawn. That's the sort of thing that you can bond with someone over, even if you're out of the area. And then, let me use Kerry because everyone knows I supported him in 2004, then it's "that person who came by the house for Kerry really loved my rose bush." How much effect does that have? It can have a big effect if the voter really valued that rose bush. If you're block walking, you need to pay attention to that sort of thing. What the person's watching if a TV is on. What's in the yard. Did the house just get painted. Just details like that. And when you have nothing else, you can always explain that you're from out of the area and wondering where to eat? People love being asked their opinion and having it treated with respect. But the most you can hope for is to make a good impression. That may swing support to your side.

Okay, but let's say you come to my door. And I don't know you. There's no way you can really influence me? Reeling off plans and stuff won't change my mind?

C.I.: You're not supporting Barack, we all know that. So for this exercise, let's pretend I am -- which I am not -- and that I'm at your door to ask for your vote for Barack. Is anything I say going to change your mind? No. And if your opposition to him wasn't so great, I might score support for a few minutes. But after I'm gone, you and your friends will be talking and, chances are, someone will refute what I've said -- either because I was wrong (or lied) or because they disagree. I'm back to the stranger you don't know and you're going to put more weight behind what your friend says.

ACORN's under the spotlight for voter registration. Elaine said in college one year, you did a record number of voter registration -- of registering people to vote.

C.I.: I asked for i.d. I don't know that ACORN does or doesn't do that. What did I do? I didn't go to the obvious places. I was already registering at the local fair. But what I did was go to various college parties -- I was in college -- with my paperwork. So it would be a beer bash or whatever. Whatever does include parties where a large number of people were completely stoned. It was effective mainly because people either knew me or knew someone who did. So on election day, if they had any problem, they called me. And I would call ___, who I knew, and say, "Hey, I turned in their forms. They're not on the rolls. What's going on?" In some cases, they were at the wrong voting place. So it was successful both due to the large number of people registered and because they were able to call someone when they had a problem. In terms of the things you're talking about, about persuading people, I will say that when people are stoned, they ask a lot of questions about why they should register or why they should vote for whomever you're advocating. Less so when they're drunk. I was surprised by the number of pot users who called up election day and were eager to vote for the candidate I was supporting. That's not meant as an insult, I just think that's what Elaine was probably talking about. She, Rebecca and I shared an apartment in college. She knows about those phone calls.

Were these all first time voters?

C.I.: Yes.

So for 2012, the Dems plan should be find pot smoking young people and sign them up!

C.I.: Since it is illegal to smoke pot for recreation, I think that would cause a problem for any political party. It was illegal back then as well but very common.

Who do you think is going to win?

C.I.: I have no idea. The elections many days away. Who knows what will happen? There could be a huge upset that benefits one of the non-two-party candidates. It could be one of the two party candidates.

You think the race is close between Barack and McCain.

C.I.: Yes. Look at the crowds turning out for Sarah Palin. Look at how the press has made sure that people not supporting Barack are afraid to say that. Ava and I wrote about it on Sunday, how friends with the campaign think the polling is completely screwed up as a result.

Which is probably why Barack said Thursday that people shouldn't be overconfident. I also read a thing in the New York Times this week echoing what you and Ava wrote. The reporter was talking to the Barack campaign and they were voicing the same worries to the reporter that they had to you and Ava.

C.I.: I don't like Barack but I do feel sorry for him in this regard: No other presidential candidate has ever had to ponder the validity of the polls so much. It's very difficult for that campaign.

And this isn't the so-called "Bradley effect."

C.I.: No. That is supposed to be where people will not vote for a candidate because the candidate is of a certain race but they tell the pollster that they will because they don't want to be known as a racist. With Barack, it's different in that, the press has created this climate where not voting for Barack is supposed to mean you're a racist.

I see the difference, I think. In one instance, racists are hiding and lying and in the other people who aren't racists are lying because they don't want to be thought of as a racist.

C.I.: Right and, as a friend on Barack's campaign was hypothesizing last week, the pool of racists has to be smaller than the pool of people worried about wrongly being seen as a racist. I mean, this is what the campaign's having to try to adjust for. How big is that pool? I agree it's got to be larger than the pool who actually are racists. But no one knows how big that pool is so they -- Barack's campaign -- is flying blind and trying to figure out what qualifies as a safe number to call a state a victory based on polling. This matters because even with Barack's money tree resources are limited. Time is a resource and it is severely limited. So you've got them afraid that the poll numbers are inflated but not able to determine by how much and you've got them using those polls which they are rightly skeptical of to determine where to advertise, where to send the candidate, where to send the big name surrogates.

And your advice.

C.I.: I have consistently said that they should go by 2004. I know they can't make that call because if, the day after the election, they lose the election and do so by a very small margin in one state, all eyes will be focused on that and wondering, "How could you miss that?" But the consensus of the campaign is that the data is inflated so, when asked, I always say use the 2004 data. Kerry ran a competative race. Were it not for Ohio disenfranchisement, he'd be in the White House right now. Shore up based on where it was close in 2004.

Name one state that if they lose, they're going to regret having wasted resources on.

C.I.: Texas. They sent Bill Clinton there last week. That's the state Ava and I were referring to Sunday, by the way. John Cornyn is closely associated with the current occupant of the White House. His Democratic opponent is not pulling out a lead. If the state wanted a big change, his opponent -- I think his name is Rick Noreiga, but I could be wrong -- would be pulling far ahead of him. And look at the state offices, look at all those Republicans. But Barack's campaign is spending a huge amount of money adverising in that state. And that was last week. This week they used Bill Clinton -- a very popular political figure -- by sending him to Texas. If they lose Texas by the usual number Democrats lose Texas -- and the last Dem who won it was Jimmy Carter in 1976 -- there will be a lot of, "Why did we waste so many resources on that state?" And, again, Texas has repeatedly gone Republican. Texas has a 'change' US Senate race if they're really focused on changing but Cornyn's holding his own currently. So using current indicators and past history, Texas isn't a state that, in what is most likely going to be a very close race, the Barack campaign should be wasting resources in. If they win Texas, then some within the campaign who have argued for the huge spending on advertisements will look like visionaries. So it's a roll of the dice. But, if it's mistake, the one thing that people going along with sending resources to Texas can point to is the polls. They can play cover-your-own-ass by pointing to the polling and saying, "It made it look competative."

And there was more but I type so slow. So that's the interview with C.I. Sorry I couldn't get it posted in time to be up Friday night. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, October 17, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, talk of the treaty between the White House and the puppet government continues, the UNHCR notes the Mosul crisis and more.
Starting with the treaty attempting to masquerade as a Status Of Forces Agreement. Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) reminds that what's being talked about now is a draft and explains the process for Iraq: "presented today to Iraq's political and national security council, which is made up of top government officials and the leaders of major political groups. If it survives challenges there and among other government ministers, it will move to the Council of Representatives, or parliament, where Maliki has pledged to put it to an up-or-down vote. Far less controversial matters have taken months to move through the Iraqi legislative provess, if they moved at all." BBC's Jim Muir reports: "Rejection of any agreement with the Americans is spearheaded by the group led by the militant Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, who has strong grassroots support and also 30 seats in parliament. The Sadrists have called for a mass demonstration in Baghdad on Saturday to denounce the accord. At least one other big Shia faction is believed to have reservations about the agreement, and some Sunnis have also voiced dissent." Also noting the anticipated Shi'ite split is the Minneapolis Star Tribune which adds, "Although passage would require only a majority of the 275-member parliament, Al-Maliki will submit the draft only if he is convinced it will receive two-thirds support. To reach two-thirds, the draft would need the 30 votes from the Supreme Council." US Senator Carl Levin has issued the following statement:
"I have not yet seen the proposed Strategic Framework Agreement nor the Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Iraq. The Administration committed to provide the text of these agreements to Congress before they are finalized, and I look forward to reviewing the text. I am skeptical of any agreement that would subject U.S. servicemen and women to the jurisdiction of Iraqi courts in the middle of a chaotic war and in the absence of a judicial system that has been proven to be fair and protective of the rights of individuals."
Germany's DPA reports an increase in opposition to the treaty today "among Iraqi religious leaders," quoted Imam Sadr Eddin al-Qabani telling a large gatherin in Najaf ("crowd of hundreds"), "The Shiite clergy is very worried about this security agreement with the USA" and noted the protest by Moqtada al-Sadr supporters scheduled for tomorrow in Baghdad has already resulted in many people beginning "to arrive in Baghdad to participate in the demonstration". Mohammad Akef Jamal (Gulf News) explores the treaty's meaning beyond the US and Iraq:
The US has extended its influence throughout the world with treaties and agreements, thereby securing its status as a major military and political power. And irrespective of the wording of the treaties or accords, the US has categorised its partners into two groups -- friends, ans subordinates.
Basically, treaties and accords are partnership contracts signed between two countries or more, to mutually safeguard the interests and security of all the parties to the agreement.
In most treaties, there is one powerful partner. There is also provisions for such agreements to include financial, scientific and cultural aid, which is usually availed by the weaker partner in the pact.
The security treaty between the US and Iraq has become a popular political topic for discussion in Iraq and the Middle East, as its signing is round the corner.
Dr. Mohammad Akef Jamal goes on to explore the region and notes Iran's opposition to the treaty. We'll come back to that later in the snapshot. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Congress is not in session. In fact, let's quote White House spokesperson Dana Perino on that: "So Congress isn't even going to be back here until about November 17th." That's the situation that worried many included Senator Jim Webb who introduced legislation September 12, 2008 about this very possibility. Speaking on the floor (link has text and video) of the US Senate, Webb explained:
We are at an odd situation in the business of government at the moment in that the international authority for the United States to be operating in Iraq will expire at the end of this year. The UN Mandate through the UN Security Council will expire at that time.
Since last November, the Administration has been negotiating what they call a "strategic framework agreement," that is intended to replace the international authority of the UN Mandate. There have been two questions that have come up with respect to what the Administration is doing. The first is the timeline. The Iraqi government negotiators have some serious questions that weren't anticipated before. But the larger question, really, is what entity of the federal government has the authority to enter the United States into a long-term relationship with another government?
These are serious issues. I would submit that the conditions under which we will continue to operate in Iraq -- military, diplomatically, economically, and even culturally -- are not the sole business of any adminsitration. We have questions about the legal justifications under domestic and international law for the United States to operate militarily and quasi-militarily, by the way, given the hundreds of thousands of independent contractors that now are performing essentially military functions in that country.
There are questions about the process by which the United States government decides upon and enters into long-term relationships with another nation -- any nation. And in that regard we have serious questions here about the very workings of our constitutional system of government.
This Administration has claimed repeatedly since last November that it has the right to negotiate and enter into an agreement that will set the future course of our relations with Iraq without the agreement or even the ratification of the United States Congress. The Administration claims that the justification for this authority is the 2002 congressional authorization for the use of force in Iraq and as a fallback position, the President's inherent authority from the perspective of this Administration as Commander in Chief.
Both of these justifications are patnetly wrong. The 2002 congressional authorization to use force in Iraq has nothing to do with negotiation with a government that replaced the Saddam Hussein government as to the future relations -- culturally, economically, diplomatically, and militarily -- between our two countries.
On the other hand, we are now faced with the reality that the United Nations mandate will expire at the end of this year and that expiration will terminate the authority under international law for the United States to be operating in Iraq at a time when we have hundreds of thousands of Americans on the ground in that country. And I and other colleagues have been warning of this serious disconnect for ten months.
Many of us were trying to say last November that the intention of this Administration was to proceed purely with an executive agreement, to drag this out until the Congress was going to go out of session, as we are about to do; then to present essentially a fait accompli in the sense that with the expiration of the international mandate from the UN at the end of the year, something would have to be done and that something would be an executive agreement that to this point the United States Congress has not even been allowed to examine. We haven't been able to see one word of this agreement.
We've tried to energize the congress about this. We've met with all the appropriate administration officials. There have been hearings. There have been assurances from the administration that they will "consult" at the appropriate time. But we haven't seen anything. So we're faced with a situation that is something of a constitutional coup d'etat by this Adminstration. At risk is a further expansion of the powers of the presidency, the results of this is to affirm in many minds that the president -- any president -- no longer needs approval of congress to enter into long-term relations with another country.
In effect, that is committing us to obligations that involve our national security, our economic well-being, our diplomatic posture around the world, without the direct involvement of the United States Congress. This is not what the Constitution intended. It's not in the best interests of the country.
This amendment which I introduce today is designed to prevent this sort of an imbalance from occuring at the same time that it recognizes the realities of the timelines that are now involved with respect to the loss of international authority for our presence in Iraq at the end of this year.
This amendment is a sense of the congress. On the one hand, it states that it is a sense of the Congress that we work with the UN to extend the United Nations mandate for up to an additional year, giving us some addition international authority for being in Iraq, taking away the pressure of this timeline that could be used to justify an agreement that the Congress has not had the ability to examine. It also says that an extension of the United Nations mandate would end at such time as a strategic framework agreement and a status of forces agreement between the United States and Iraq are mutually agreed upon.
The amendment also makes the point that the strategic framework agreement now being negotiated between the United States and Iraq poses significant long-term national security implications for this country. We need a sense of the Congress. We need to be saying that. The Iraqis need to hear it. The amendment also puts the Congress on record, and the Administration on record, to the reality that the Bush Administration has fully agreed to consult with the Congress regarding all the details of the strategic framework agreement and the status of forces agreement and that there will be copies of the full text of these agreements provided to the chiarman and ranking minority members of the approriate committees in the house and senate prior to the entry into either of those agreements.
Importantly, it also says that any strategic framework agreement that has been mutally agreed upon by negotiators from our executive branch and the Iraqi government officials will cease to have effect unless it is approved by the Congress within 180 days of the entry into force of that agreement.
So, Mr. President, on the one hand this amendment recognizes the realities of where we are in terms of time lines. But, on the other, it protects the constituational process by which we are entering into long-term relationships with other countries, whether it is Iraq or Cameroon or Burudni, pick a country. We need to preserve the process. And it does it in a way that would not disrupt our operations in Iraq. I would urge my colleagues to join me on this amendment and protect the prerogatives under the Constitution of the United States Congress. With that, I yield the floor.
The White House continues its attempt to circumvent the Constitution while pretending that (a) it's not a treaty and (b) they share, they really, really share with Congress. Which explains Sean McCormack's song and dance before the press today at the US State Dept which included saying that Secretary of State Condi Rice is reaching out to various Senators and Reps and so is Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Asked what she told them, McCormak responded, "Talked about the text of the agreement and -- [asked if "agreement" was Rice's word] -- I don't know if she used that word. That's my word." He decided to stick with text and not agreement: "I'm sticking with text. I like the word text. And she also talked about the process, where we stand in the process. The process is ongoing. The Iraqis are considering the text. We are talking to the Iraqis. No news to announce in that regard. The process continues." By her phone calls, McCormack stated, we can surmise Rice supports the text. She wouldn't make phone calls if she didn't support it! Pressed on that, McCormack finally said, "Sure, sure. She supports the text, yes."
McCormack, in the same press confrence, made a badly worded statement when asked about Governor Sarah Palin, GOP vice presidential nominee, not being briefed when Senators Barack Obama, Joe Bide and John McCain have: "She -- if you hadn't noticed, she's a governor, not a sentor or congressman." I don't see how Palin could ever be a Congressman. She could be a Congress woman. She could be a member of Congress. She could be a US House Rep. But there was so much in that press conference. McCormack was asked didn't the Senate have approval and he responded, "Well, my understanding -- and you can check with the White House on this -- is this is not, it's not a treaty, so it doesn't require Congressional approval. And I think if you look back on the history of SOFA agreements, they are not traditionally things that have required Congressional approval. Of course, since this is a, you know, foreign policy, national security issues are issues of concern to all branches of government. And importantly, in this case, to the Legislative and the Executive Branches, there is a briefing process that's going on." After declaring that, he was asked six questions -- and answered none -- about complaints from members of Congress which led him to state, "I've -- you know, again, I've said what I'm going to say on the matter." At the White House, Dana Perino addressed the press and took questions and maintained that Congress is being briefed. Over and over, she maintained that. That's not advise and consent. As Karen DeYoung noted, "None of the actuald raft wording has yet been made public or unveiled to Congress".
From the Constitutional crisis to the Mosul crisis. Christians have been forced to flee from the Iraqi city as a result of attacks on them. Ed West (UK's Catholic Herald via Catholic Online) explains, "The refugees now face a bleak winter without any food or shelter in what aid workers are calling a 'desperate' situation." The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees issued the following this morning, attributed to spokesperson Ron Redmond:

UNHCR is concerned about the displacement of Christian Iraqis from Mosul which started last week. We have received information from the Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM) in Mosul that approximately 1,560 families (some 9,360 people) have been displaced so far, although UNHCR cannot confirm this number. The displaced population would represent about half of the Christians in the Mosul area.
In recent days, we have sent at least 10 field assessment missions to areas surrounding Mosul, including Telesquf, Batnaya, Bartilla, Baashiqa, Akre, Shekhan. We've also had UNHCR teams in areas of Dahuk and Erbil, where Christians have sought refuge.
According to initial reports, most Christian Iraqis decided to leave Mosul following direct as well as indirect threats and intimidation. One of those interviewed witnessed the killing of a Christian Iraqi on the street, while several of the displaced told us they had received printed threats at the university campus, in their homes and through text messages on their mobiles. Several others told our teams that they left when they heard news of 11 reported killings of Christians in Mosul. Others were warned by family members, friends and neighbours of potential threats and decided to leave before it was too late.
Most of the families who fled are staying with extended family members, friends within the host community or in collective community buildings, including church facilities. There is an urgent need for food, clothes, non-food items (such as blankets, mattresses, and stoves), health facilities, hygiene kits, clean water and access to school.
Over the past week, UNHCR and our partner, International Medical Corps (IMC), have distributed non-food items to a total of 802 families (about 4,800 people). We expect to have reached over 1,500 families by early next week, both new arrivals as well as those displaced people we have not been able to reach yet. Food and kerosene and additional assistance have been distributed by other UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and local authorities. A decision was also taken on Wednesday by the Ministers of Displacement and Migration and Defence to make available an immediate cash grant of 300,000 -- 500,000 Iraqi dinars ( $250-$425 ) to the displaced families, and another 1.5 million dinars ($1,250) to those who decide to return.
For now, most of the displaced we spoke to do not envisage return to their homes as an immediate option, as they fear for their lives. A few told us that they will only return if and when their safety and security can be assured by the local authorities.
UNHCR's led protection and assistant centres in Kirkuk and Mosul will continue to closely monitor the situation on the ground.

Gulf Daily News reports, "Lebanese political figure Amin Gemayel on Friday warned against attacks targeting Christians in Iraq, according to media reports. Gemayel was quoted by media as saying that a campaign targeting Iraqi Christians was 'part of a campaign to displace them, similar to displacing of Palestinians' by Israel'." Lebanon's Naharnet Newsdesk quotes Gemayel calling it "racial cleansing" and stating, "What sparks suspicion is that the campaign of racial cleansing targeting Iraqi Christians is underway as the security situation in Iraq is achieving progress. It is regretful that this campaign is underway while the new Iraqi regime and the American forces are watching." Fatih Abdulsalam (Azzaman) provides a unflinching look at the current state of Iraq which includes asking about the alleged 'strength' of Iraq: "Is it our political stability and security? The hundreds of thousands of Iraqi troops and police as well as 150,00 U.S. Marines cannot stop the persecution of Iraqi Christians in the city of Mosul." Also refusing to blink is Sami Moubayed (Asia Times):
Ever since the occupation of Iraq in 2003, Iraqi Christians have complained that they are being persecuted by Islamic militias. In some cases, many Christians were killed, churches attacked and women raped for walking outdoors without wearing headscarves.
Over the past 10 days, 12 Iraqi Christians have been found dead in Iraq, angering the prime minister, who created a senior ministerial delegation to investigate the crimes. The group is composed of the ministers of defense, industry, planning and refugees.
The depiction of Maliki's Iraq as a theocracy where freedom of religion is not tolerated is a terrible setback for Maliki, and is tarnishing his image in the United States and Europe. Ordinary Iraqis - mainly Christian - cannot but compare him with Saddam Hussein, who despite all the faults of his dictatorship, upheld religious diversity in Iraq and protected Iraqi Christians from fundamentalist threats.
Prior to the most recent outbreak of violence in Mosul, Iraqi Christians and other minorities were publicly demonstrating against the decision to strip Article 50 out of the legislation for provincial elections. Article 50 provided minority representation. Newsday reports, "The president of the semiautonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, said the omission of a minority quota in a recently passed elections law was a 'big mistake.' Barzani also promised to help the federal government in its 'efforts to provide the equivalent protection for our Christian brothers.' Kurdistan borders Nineveh province, which includes Mosul. More than 1,400 families have fled Mosul to nearby villages and towns, the Iraqi Ministry of Displacement and Migration said." Add Barzani to the long list -- which includes puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki and Iraqi president Jalal Talabani -- of people calling the elimination of Article 50 out . . . after the bill was signed into law. Saad Abedine (CNN) reports 4 males have been arrested today under suspicion of taking part in the attacks on Iraqi Christians and quotes Maj Gen Mohammed al-Askari stating, "We know that they are part of a criminal gang that has been committing criminal acts in Mosul and we will do our best to arrest the rest."
Today the United Nations HCR noted a new report: "A UN refugee agency report released on Friday shows that the number of Iraqis seeking asylum in industrialized countries dropped in the first six months of this year, but they were still by far the top nationality seeking asylum in these destinations. According to the asylum trends report, the number of claims made by Iraqis (19,500) during the first six months of 2008, was higher than the combined number of asylum claims submitted by citizens of the Russian Federation (9,400) and China (8,700), the second and third most important source countries. Other important countries of origin of asylum seekers were Somalia (7,400), Pakistan and Afghanistan (6,300 each)." The report [PDF format warning] is entitled "Asylum Levels and Trends in Industrialized Countries" and it examines the statistics on "asylum claims submitted in Europe and selected non-European countries during the first six months of 2008." The US and Canada rank first for asylum claims (not asylum granted, applications). France and the UK are third and fourth. The report notes that Iraq was the country of origin for most aslyum-seekers as it has been since 2006. For all of 2007, there were 45,000 asylum claims by Iraqis. For the first half of this year, there were 19,500 claims. The report is 25 pages and the bulk of it is tables.
While Iraq remains the number one refugee crisis in the world (and figures above were on external refugees making claims), tension remain between Iraq and it's northern neighbor Turkey. CNN reports that Turkish military planes again bombing northern Iraq today and notes that there are no known/confirmed deaths from the bombing. Reuters adds, "The general staff said on its website that the Turkish jets hit PKK bases in northern Iraq's Qandil mountains on Friday and that all planes had returned to their bases. Military sources, who declined to be named, earlier told Reuters that four PKK guerrillas were killed and several wounded in the bombardment of Qandil mountains."
In other reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and wounded four people and a Falluja bombing at the home of Sheikh Suleiman Ahmed al-Jumaili claimed the Sheikh's life as well as a man suspected of being the bomber. Reuters reports a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed 1 life and left one person injured, 2 more Mosul roadside bombing that resulted in 1 Iraqi soldier losing his life, four more wounded, two police officers and three civilians being injured and a roadside bombing outside Falluja that left three police officers injured.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports "Qadir Aziz, a guard in a driver training establishment" was shot dead in Kirkuk.
Reuters notes the corpse of 1 "pregnant woman" was found in Kut ("gunshot wounds").
Turning to the US presidential race. Yesterday's snapshot mentions a debate at Columbia. Maria Recio's "Third-party debate's only confirmed participant: the moderator" (McClatchy Newspapers) informs that it's iffy with Cynthia McKinney saying she's doing another debate, Ralph Nader hedging and apparently no real desire for it. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. Today Nader writes "In the Public Interest: Closing the Courthouse Door:"
"Real change comes from the bottom up, not the top down. The genius of the American system has been to let that change flow upward, from neighborhoods to cities to states and then to the federal government." George W. Bush February 26, 2001.
Unfortunately, the difference between words and deeds in Washington is often shocking even to those who think they have seen it all. Alicia Mundy in the October 15, 2008 edition of the Wall Street Journal reports: "Bush administration officials, in their last weeks in office, are pushing to rewrite a wide array of federal rules with changes or additions that could block product-safety lawsuits by consumers and states."
What President George W. Bush should have said is that he believes in states rights when they are in the interest of Big Business and their lobbyists in Washington. Mr. Bush and his cronies would like to forget about those harmed by dangerous products or reckless conduct. Indeed, Bush & Company seem to regard the civil justice system as a nuisance that threatens to destroy our economy and way of life. In reality, America's civil justice system plays an indispensable role in our democracy. When the rights of injured consumers are vindicated in court, our society benefits in countless ways: compensating victims and their families for shattering losses (with the cost borne by the wrongdoers rather than taxpayers); preventing future injuries by deterring dangerous products and practices and spurring safety innovation; stimulating enforceable safety standards; educating the public to risks associated with certain products and services; and providing society with its moral and ethical fiber by defining appropriate norms of conduct.
The Center for Progressive Reform has in painstaking detail chronicled the attack on the civil Justice system by the Bush Administration. In "The Truth about Torts: Using Agency Preemption to Undercut Consumer Health and Safety" legal scholars William Funk, Sidney Shapiro, David Vladeck and Karen Sokol write: "In recent years, the Bush administration has launched an unprecedented aggressive campaign to persuade the courts to preempt state tort actions…. Widespread preemption of state tort law would significantly undermine, if not eliminate, the rights of individuals to seek redress for injuries caused by irresponsible and dangerous business practices and to hold manufacturers and others accountable for such socially unreasonable conduct."
And, Les Weisbrod, the President of the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) hit the nail on the head when he said: "In effect the Bush administration made the safety of Americans secondary to corporate profits." Mr. Weisbrod added: "Big business lobbyists have been on a crusade to destroy state consumer protection laws, and further stack the deck against American consumers." The American Association for Justice has just published a report titled: "Get Out of Jail Free: A Historical Perspective of How the Bush Administration Helps Corporations Escape Accountability" – this report is available at:
Tort deform comes in many shapes and sizes – but the common theme is that tort deform severely damages Americans' cherished constitutional right to trial by jury. It ties the hands of jurors, preventing them from doing justice as the case before them requires. Only the judges and juries see, hear, and evaluate the evidence in these cases. But it is the politicians, absent from the courtrooms, who push bills greased by campaign cash that send a perverse message to judge and jury.
Tort law has produced decades of slow but steady progress in state after state respecting the physical integrity of human beings against harm and recognition that even the weak and defenseless deserve justice. Instead of seeing this evolution as a source of national and global pride, a coalition of insurance companies, corporate defendants' lobbies, and craven politicians, led by George W. Bush, want to destroy our civil justice system.
When Georgetown Law School Professor David Vladeck testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 12, 2007, he noted that the Bush Administration has "seized on regulatory preemption as a way to cut back dramatically on State law remedies for those injured by products and services Americans depend on every day for their health and well-being: medicines, medical devices, motor vehicles, the mattress on which we and our children sleep, and the commuter trains millions of us take to work every day."
Let us hope that Congress and the Supreme Court stop Mr. Bush from once again trampling the Constitutional rights of citizens throughout the land and preventing victims of corporate violence from obtaining justice in a court of law.
Cynthia McKinney is the Green Party presidential candidate and Rosa Clemente is her running mate.
Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney will participate in a webcast forum for presidential candidates on Sunday, October 19, to be aired 7 to 9 pm on
Cynthia McKinney will join other candidates who've been invited to the online
forum, which has been organized by's Trevor Lyman.
Ms. McKinney will not appear at a candidates' forum at Columbia University on
the evening of October 19. The news of Ms. McKinney's participation in the Columbia event was released to the media in error by persons who are unassociated with the McKinney campaign, and who had not confirmed such
an appearance with Ms. McKinney or her staff.
"We invite everyone to go online, tune in to, and listen to
Cynthia McKinney and the other candidates debate real issues. We'll hear Ms. McKinney offer ideas that have been censored from the McCain-Obama debates -- ideas that most Americans support, like bringing our troops home now, health care for everyone, and help for working Americans facing financial difficulty instead of a $700 billion bailout package for Wall Street," said John Judge, media secretary for the McKinney/Clemente Power to the People Committee.
Cynthia McKinney and running mate Rosa Clemente were nominated by the Green Party at the Green National Convention in Chicago this past July.
"A vote for Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente is an investment in a growing progressive antiwar party that accepts no corporate contributions. No other candidate in the 2008 election offers the hope of a permanent alternative to the Democrats and Republicans and the corporate interests that the two established parties serve. The Green Party isn't an alternative, it's an imperative," said Ms. Clemente.
Greens and other Americans have objected to the format of the McCain-Obama debates, which were sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), and which excluded all candidates except the Democratic and Republican nominee.
The CPD, which sets rules for candidate participation, is owned and run by the Democratic and Republican parties, which have an interest in excluding all candidates except their own. Greens noted that the CPD is funded through contributions from corporations, which have their own interests in limiting the candidates who participate in the debates.

Democracy Now! -- no link to trash -- had Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney on yesterday. Cynthia is the Green Party presidential candidate and wisely refused to take part in defending a White man who instigated more serious acts of violence than have the still persecuted Black Panthers (much to Goody's regret, Cynthia refused to rush to defend Bill Ayers). Ignoring Goody's need to for White privilege, McKinney responded:

CYNTHIA McKINNEY: First of all, I think I should say that I believe that the people in this country need a political party and a movement that places our values on the political agenda. Obviously, with that exchange, that's not the case.
There's something else that's a bit more troubling. I've also been talking about election integrity as I've gone across this country. But, you know, I really don't like the idea that the face of election fraud, given the past two presidential elections, is now a face of color and one of poor people.
In 2000, when people went to the polls, when the voters went to the polls, they were met with confusing ballots, manipulation of the voter lists, electronic voting machines that didn't work, inappropriately or ineffectively or poorly trained officials who weren't familiar with the workings of those machines, and we know what the problems with those machines have been and are. We still have those problems that have been with us since 2000.
In 2004, they added to these problems with the electronic poll books, the sleepovers that were discovered, where the machines weren't even secured, even intensifying the failures of the machines with the vote flipping, and usually in only one direction. The battery freezes in the midst of voters actually trying to cast their votes.
And now we've got voter ID laws across the country, and we've got voter caging, which is a fancy way of purging people from the voter files.
So, now, what kind of election is it when neither of the political parties is addressing the issue, the fundamental issue, of whether or not our votes are even going to be counted?

McKinney's running mate is Rosa Clemente. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate. Ralph took the bait so we won't note his exchange on that issue. Instead, we'll note this from him:

RALPH NADER: There's no such thing as free trade with dictators and oligarchs in these countries, because the market doesn't determine the costs. There's no free collective bargaining for workers. That's a crime, de facto, in many countries, to try to form an independent trade union. There's no rule of law, bribery. These companies can go there and pollute at will. There's no judicial independence to make these companies accountable, and they abuse workers and consumers and communities, as the oil companies and the timber companies have on many occasions.
Second, these-NAFTA and WTO have to be scrapped. Under those treaties, we can withdraw in six months and give notice of withdrawal and renegotiate these agreements for the following purpose: no more trade agreements that subordinate consumer, union, worker and environmental rights. These are pull-down trade agreements that are allowing fascist and corporate dictators to pull down our standards of living, because they know how to keep their workers in their place at fifty cents an hour. So, any new trade agreements should stick to trade. Any other treaty should be labor, environment and consumer on a level playing field. These trade agreements also have to be open, democratic. They cannot undermine our courts, our regulatory agencies and our legislature.
That's what we've got to do. And our website,, has ample information on this process.

If you're in the mood to wade through garbage, you know where to go find the audio and video. Cynthia McKinney has the transcript posted at her campaign website. Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. In terms of the 'questions' Goody came up with, Ava and I will address that garbage on Sunday at Third.

Meghan McCain ( offers her evaluation today on the debate Wednesday between her father, GOP presidential candidate John McCain, and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama: "My father nothing short of ROCKED Wednesday night's debate and I have never been more proud. He got up and showed this country why he is the right person to lead it into the future, and open the door to reinvention of the Republican Party. I am always proud of my Dad but even more so when he lets his maverick tendencies show so clearly. Eighteen more days to go and this election is nowhere near over!!!" McCain's running mate is Governor Sarah Palin. The McCain-Palin campaign has issued a press release that there's not room for in full. We'll quote from the top and include as much as possible (ues the link to read in full):
OBAMA MEDICARE MALPRACTICE #1: The Very Same Reforms That Barack Obama Calls "Cuts" Under John McCain, He Says Will "Strengthen" Medicare Under His Program
THE MALPRACTICE: While Saying Today That John McCain's Reforms Will "Cut" Medicare Spending, Barack Obama Says He Will "Strengthen" Medicare With His Reforms. OBAMA: "So what would Senator McCain's cuts mean for Medicare at a time when more and more Americans are relying on it? It would mean a cut of more than 20 percent in Medicare benefits next year. ... I think every single American has a right to affordable accessible health care. We can strengthen Medicare by eliminating wasteful subsidies to big HMOs in Medicare, and making sure seniors can access home-based care, and letting Medicare negotiate with drug companies for better prices. That's the kind of change we need." (Barack Obama, Remarks As Prepared For Delivery, Roanoke, VA, 10/17/08)
THE TRUTH: Just Two Days Ago, Barack Obama Highlighted His Own "Cut" To Medicare Spending. OBAMA: "And some of the cuts, just to give you an example, we spend $15 billion a year on subsidies to insurance companies. It doesn't -- under the Medicare plan -- it doesn't help seniors get any better. It's not improving our health care system. It's just a giveaway." (CNN, Presidential Candidate Debate, Hempstead, NY, 10/15/08)
THE TRUTH: One Such "Cut" That John McCain Must Support Under Barack Obama's Logic Is A Reform That Today, Barack Obama Said Would "Strengthen" Medicare. MCCAIN: "Government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid should lead the way in health care reforms that improve quality and lower costs. Medicare reimbursement now rewards institutions and clinicians who provide more and more complex services. We need to change the way providers are paid to focus their attention more on chronic disease and managing their treatment. This is the most important care for an aging population. There have been a variety of state-based experiments such as Cash and Counseling or The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, called PACE, that are different from the inflexible approaches for delivering care to people in the home setting. Seniors are given a monthly allowance that they can use to hire workers and purchase care- related services and goods. They can get help managing their care by designating representatives, such as relatives or friends, to help make decisions. It also offers counseling and bookkeeping services to assist consumers in handling their programmatic responsibilities. In these approaches, participants were much more likely to have their needs met and be satisfied with their care. Moreover, any concerns about consumers' safety appeared to be misplaced. For every age group in every state, participants were no more likely to suffer care-related health problems." (John McCain, Remarks, Tampa, FL, 4/29/08)