Friday, October 24, 2008

The horse race

Friday, Friday! The weekend at last. :D It'll be gone so quick, too quick, we all know.

And soon we'll know who the next president of the United States is. My pick is Ralph Nader and this is from Team Nader:

Nader Dedicates Massachusetts Marathon to Lou Gehrig
Friday, October 24, 2008 at 12:00:00 AM
News Advisory


Contact: Ryan Mehta 408-348-0681; Rob Socket 202-471-5833

Lou Gehrig, the iron man of baseball was a boyhood hero of Ralph Nader. His great slugging record, his clutch hitting, his 2130 consecutive games played provided a great example of stamina to Ralph Nader.

On Saturday, October 25, Nader is dedicating the Massachusetts campaign marathon to the memory of Lou Gehrig and his achievements, both in spirit and in action.

The Massachusetts marathon will consist of 21 speeches in 21 different cities across Massachusetts in an attempt to set a sanctioned Guinness World Record to give the most speeches in a 24-hour time period. The minimum threshold he must meet is 15. He is scheduled to deliver over 315 minutes of speeches and drive over 365 miles. Each speech will last at least 10 minutes and will tackle a separate issue.

Nader/Gonzalez campaign events are scheduled to be held in the following cities:

Boston, Cambridge, Belmont, Somerville, Medford, Arlington, Lexington, Concord, Waltham, Watertown, Newton, Worcester, Auburn, Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton, West Springfield, Westfield, Stockbridge and Sheffield.

There is an additional van for intrepid journalists who want to chronicle the adventure from start to finish.

For a full itinerary or other related inquires, please contact Ryan Mehta at 408-348-0681, or Rob Socket at 202-471-5833.

My uncle and his wife (my aunt) are voting for John McCain and Sarah Palin. Everyone else is voting for Nader. (I am one of eight children, my mother is one of eight children and my father is one of six. So 'we' are a huge number.) Mark Leibovitch's "'Sarah Dude' population forms deep bonds with Palin" (International Herald Tribune) is on some of the crowds Sarah Palin is attracting on the campaign trail:

"You rock me out, Sarah," yelled one man, wearing a red-checked hunting jacket as Palin, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, strode into an airplane hangar here on Thursday. He held a homemade "Dudes for Sarah" sign and wore a National Rifle Association hat.
Kenny Loggins's "Danger Zone" blared over the loudspeakers, and the man even danced a little - yes, a guy in an NRA hat dancing in a hangar, kind of a Sarah Palin rally thing.
"I feel like I'm at home," Palin said, looking out at a boisterous crowd of about 6,000. "I see the Carhartts and the steel-toed boots," she said, the first reference being to a clothing brand favored by construction workers and the burly types who make up much of the "Sarah Dude" population. "You guys are great," she said while signing autographs.
Guys think Palin is great, too, or at least many of those who come to hear her. They sometimes go to extraordinary lengths. "I woke up at 2 a.m. so I could get my work done before 6 and get here by 7," said Mike Spencer, a chef from Dexter, Maine. Spencer waited in the chilly hangar - in a "Nobama" T-shirt - for almost three hours.

Anyone who knows even a little about me knows family is really important. So you know I have no problem with my uncle and aunt voting for McCain and I'm stressing that because there were some really crappy e-mails that came in. I'm not going to be intimidated into voting for Barack. Save your breath. I'm voting for Ralph Nader and the reason is I'm not a sell out on the left who tosses away everything he believes in.

In other words, I'm not Ron Jacobs, willing to sell out any belief to suck up to a Corporate War Hawk and fit in. The way Jacobs did for Barack. Now he's at Z-Net trying to act like the Iraq War matters to him. Maybe he'll fool some people but I doubt it. He put a price tag on his ass and sold out. I think that's fairly obvious to anyone paying attention.

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

Friday, October 24, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, concerns rise regarding Iraqi Christians, the "Awakening" members forgotten?, and more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amy Goodman: And explain what the Weathermen were.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Nader and bye-bye Patti

Thursday! One day until the weekend. Yea! There is a great roundtable for tomorrow's gina & krista round-robin so if you're a community member be sure and check your inboxes in the morning. I don't know which seems harder to believe, how close Thanksgiving is or how close the election is?

My candidate is Ralph Nader and this is "Help Ralph Get Into Guinness Book of Records:"

Posted by The Nader Team on Thursday, October 23, 2008 at 04:53:00 PM
Drop a $2 bill on Nader/Gonzalez.
C-Span 2 is going to air the Third Party Debate live tonight at 9 p.m. EST.
Former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges is going to moderate.
If you are in the Washington, D.C. area, please come on down to the Mayflower Hotel and watch live and in person.
Also, we consider the $2 bill a good luck charm.
And we’re going to need all the luck we can get on Saturday.
Because it’s now official.
Our national media coordinator just got off a long distance phone call to the UK with the head of the Guinness Book of World Records.
He just confirmed it.
With your help, Ralph will make it into the Guinness record book this Saturday.
Ralph will campaign in 21 cities and towns across Massachusetts in one day.
Guinness says that if hits 15, he’ll be in the record books — most campaign speeches in a 24-hour period.
But we’re shooting for 21.
Each speech will last ten minutes and will tackle a separate issue — single payer, poverty, Palestine — you get the idea.
On Saturday, Ralph is scheduled to deliver 315 minutes of speeches — and we’ll be driving 365 miles.
In one day.
Events are now scheduled in the following towns:
Boston, Cambridge, Southborough, Somerville, Medford, Arlington, Lexington, Concord, Waltham, Watertown, Newton, Worcester, Auburn, Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton, West Springfield, Westfield, Stockbridge and Sheffield.

If you are in the Massachusetts area, come on out and meet Ralph and the Nader Road Crew as we zip across the Commonwealth. (For complete schedule, including times of each stop go to
If not,
donate $2, or $20, or whatever you can afford now to fund Nader’s Mass Marathon.
We need to rent the cars and vans, pay the advance teams, feed the hard working Nader’s Raiders road crew, rent the multiple GPS systems.
And we need to meet our latest fundraising goal of $200,000 by tomorrow midnight.
donate now and then watch the widget zoom to the goal line.
And deliver Ralph into the Guinness book.
Onward to November
The Nader Team
PS: If you
donate $100 or more now, we will ship to you our corporate crime package. The package includes two books and a DVD: Gangster Capitalism by Michael Woodiwiss, The Cheating of America by Charles Lewis, Bill Allison and the Center for Public Integrity, and a DVD of our Wall Street rally. (This offer ends October 24, 2008 at 11:59 p.m.)

Ralph may be a 'long shot.' That's true. But he's willing to put his faith in the American people. I consider him our best shot. And he's not afraid to back others who need him. He's rooting for the Washington Nationals. That's pretty cool in my book. This is from Bleacher Report's "Ralph Nader Still Believes Washington Nationals Have Chance to Win World Series:"

"I'm not counting out a Washington Nationals World Series this year," said Nader at a rally in Oregon on Tuesday. "Sure, they have the worst record in baseball. Sure, they aren't even in the series. Sure, they have been off work for the last month and are probably not going to get together again until February. But I think this team has a chance to still surprise everyone and take home a national championship.
"You don't have to pick from the best of two evils. That is what I love about this country, is that everyone has a shot. Even a team eliminated from contention. Sure, it looks like only these two organizations are still in it. But just when you think one of them is about to catch the last out, the Nationals could storm the field and make that catch instead. What happens then? Who knows. That's why I love America."

The above me makes me proud of Ralph and also makes me think of how much respect I lost for Patti Smith this year. Patti Smith supported Nader in 2000 and made comments to indicate she supported him running in 2004. But this year Patti tells Spin that everyone needs to support Barack and blah blah blah and Ralph doesn't have a chance. I loved Ava and C.I.'s response to Patti's crap. In fact, I'm going to hunt it down so hold on. Okay, it's from "Denver Super Rally: Putting the issues on the table " back in August:

I feel about politics the same way I do about religion: I find the best I can from different things. I like Hillary. I support Ralph Nader's decision to run. But Obama's the candidate and we need to support him.
Thus spoke Patti, page 108 of David Marchese's "The Spin Interview: Patti Smith" by David Marchese.
Ava and C.I.: "Uh, no, Patti, we don't. When Jim mentioned your interview in Spin -- which he hadn't read -- we glommed on it -- wrongly thinking there would be a statement that we could use for 'Truest statement of the week' or at least give your documentary a plug. You'll note we do neither. There's enough stupidity in the world without amplifying your own. Sound harsh? The feature starts on page 103 and we were laughing off our asses off long before 108. Everyone was asking, 'What? What?' Uh, that would be your lies. Now you can reinvent your married life however you want and we'll leave it to James Wolcott to call you out on that. But how stupid do you think America is? You like Debbie Harry? You. Like. Debbie. Harry. Since when? You've slagged her non-stop for years and what little you've said that's surfaced publicly is nothing compared to what you've said about her privately. If there's any reason to note the article at all it's for the 'Extra! Extra! Patti finally finds a kind word to say about Debbie!' nature of the interview. But as that section was read, we merely laughed and exchanged looks while biting our tongues to questions of 'What? What? What's so funny about Patti praising Debbie?' Then Jim got to the little bit quoted above. We do not all 'need' to do anything.
"That you, of all people, would declare Barack deserves all of our support is not only laughable, it's incredibly ignorant. Remember Horses? Your seminal album? Last time we checked ,that album still hadn't gotten platinum. Translation, not a lot of people bought it. Goodness Patti, what if people had said, 'The Captain & Tenille are popular so we have to support Love Will Keep Us Together? Or the Bee Gee's Main Course? Or maybe Elton John's Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy? Fleetwood Mac had their monster self-titled album released that year, it would take weeks to go number one. Maybe people should have been saying, 'Ignore Horses, no one's going to buy it anyway. Show your support for something that really matters, really makes a difference like Fleetwood Mac!'? Your album didn't sell very well in 1975. Or since. But everyone who bought a copy -- we both have copies -- helped you leave a mark. So for you, of all people, to suggest that 'we' 'need to support Barack' is not only laughable, it's insulting. Your support in 1975 also came from the press which gave you much more coverage than many others who were actually selling albums. Heart Like A Wheel [Linda Ronstadt] actually sold. It spawned four huge hits -- two were million sellers. Do you really think when Linda Ronstadt was so clearly the choice of the people that you deserved any press attention at all in 1975? By your logic, you don't. By your logic, you don't deserve the Spin interview today. We'd expect that sort of stupidity from Toni Tennille. We're offended when it comes from you. But thanks for making us laugh by pretending you liked Debbie Harry. You say elsewhere, 'The point was that I was never interested in compromise.' We note that the statement is past tense. We grasp why. We're being really kind and not noting your "sumpthin" statements to Charles Young in 1978. In 1978! We're biting our tongues."

I had a lot of respect for Patti Smith once. But that's the point. She would be no where without people willing to go against the grain. And yet she refuses to go against the grain and starts issuing orders from Granny Rock Mountain. Sorry, not following your orders and, honestly, not planning to ever buy another one of your CDs. I had several (including Trampin') but I want to use my money to support the 'winners' and Patti Smith's become a loser by her own actions. I'm not jumping on the bandwagon for the latest craze but I'm also not catching a ride in a hooptie to help out a busted and forgettable artist who only wants to be 'trendy.'

My two cents.

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

Thursday, October 23, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq needs help or doesn't (the State Dept is confused), leave it to Amy Goodman to screw up Ehren Watada's story, the 'coalition' continues to shrink, and more.

Tuesday's snapshot started with independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader because Ralph getting network attention is news. Today's snapshot starts with Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee, from a speech she gave Tuesday in Henderson, Nevada.

A couple of people I would like you to meet, a couple of my kids, three of them who are here, we have Willow and Piper and Trig Palin. So glad to have them on the trail with me. Alright, Nevada. Now John McCain and I, we take your state motto so seriously: "All for country." And let's take a moment to honor the Americans in this crowd who have put our country first those of you who have served in the past as veterans or you're serving today, if you could raise your hands, let us honor you guys, we thank you so much. Thank you. We do thank you for your service and for your sacrifice. We owe you. Thank you, sir. Thank you.
Okay, so we are here near UNLV's campus. The home of the Runnin' Rebels. It's great to be here as part of a team that has a kinship with them. And John and I, though we don't call ourselves the Runnin' Rebels, we consider ourselves a team of mavericks and we do share that unique spirit though and I hope that we can count on you to put the maverick of the Senate in the White House November 4th. We need your vote, Nevada. Are you ready to help carry your state to victory? Are you ready to make John McCain the next president of the United States of America? Are you ready to send us to Washington to shake things up? Thank you.
And today I have another question that is especially for the women in this audience and all across our great country, all you women, yes: "Are you ready to break the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America?"
Now it is such an honor for me today to have up here on stage some very independent, very courageous, very accomplished women and I am so honored to get to introduce you to these women who have broken a few glass ceilings of their own and I ask you gals to stand up here as I introduce you. First, Prameela Bartholomeusz, a small business owner and a member of the Democratic National Platform Committee. She's with us today. Thank you. It is my honor to have with us also Linda Klinge, the former Oregon president and now vice president of the National Organization of Women. She's with us here today! And Shelley Mandell, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization of Women, here with us today! And Lynn Rothschild also. You may have seen her on television a whole lot lately. She is a member of the Democratic Platform Committee. She is with us here today. And Elaine Lafferty, a former editor in chief of Ms. magazine. They are here today to endorse the McCain-Palin campaign. We're honored. We are proud. And I thank them for their confidence, for their support, especially for their courage. Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you.
Our opponents think that they have the women's vote all locked up which is a little presumptuous. Little presumptuous since only our side has a woman on the ticket. So. We won't ignore any of the men in the audience but again this is for the women in the audience here. When it came time for choosing, somehow Barack Obama just couldn't bring himself to pick the woman who got 18 million votes in his primary. And that seems to be too familiar a story, isn't it? That, uh, how it is for so many American women that the qualifications are there but for some reason the promotion never comes. There is always some long explanation for why they got passed over or some unseen barrier, some excuse and that's just one of the things that I so admire about John McCain: He is not someone who makes excuses.
You've got to ask yourself why wasn't Senator Hillary Clinton even vetted by the Obama campaign? Why did it take 24 years, an entire generation, from the time Geraldine Ferraro made her pioneering bid until the next time that a woman was asked to join a national ticket. In the long history of our country, 74 people have held the position of president or vice president and why have the major parties given America only two chances to even consider a woman for either office? 88 years after women gained the right to vote and 83 years after Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming became the first woman governor in our great nation and 60 years after Margaret Chase Smith was elected to the Senate this glass ceiling it -- it is still there. But it's about time that we shattered that glass ceiling once and for all. See -- see there is a difference, there is a difference between what Barack Obama says and what he does and his primary opponent wasn't the first one to notice this.
Out on the stump he talks a good game about equal pay for equal work but, according to the Senate payroll records, women on his own staff get just 83 cents for every dollar that the men get. That's 9,000 dollars less every year that he pays the guys. And you gotta ask what is with that? Does he think that the women aren't working as hard? Does he think that they are 17 percent less productive? And Barack Obama can't say that this is just the way that its always been done around the Capitol because I know one senator who actually does pay women equal wages for equal work: Senator John McCain.
See this is just another reason why American women -- Democrat, Republican, independent -- should not let Barack Obama just take their votes for granted. And let me give you a few more reasons starting with his plan to, as he puts it, spread the wealth around. That is how our opponent defended his so-called tax cut to Joe the plumber the other day. Or Wendy the plumber's daughter, there you go. Now that spreading the wealth around really is just a scheme for income distribution. Joe didn't buy it. Joe the plumber, he would have none of that. He called him on it. In fact, he said that he sure thought that sounded like socialism. Joe the plumber.
And the rest of us shouldn't buy it either -- especially the millions of women in America who own small businesses. Women start as many new businesses as men start and they are entrepreneurs, trying to make a better life for themselves and for their families. And trying to make payroll for their employees. They're women, just like Irma Aguirre is her name. She owns a restaurant close by. She dreamed for years of owning her own restaurant and she made it just a year ago. Irma, she owns the La Madonna Mexican Restaurant, right here in Las Vegas. She employs 20 people. And she's exactly the kind of small business owner whose taxes would go way up under the Obama tax plan. And the health care fines and the mandates that our opponent would impose aren't gonna help her much either. They're gonna force her to let employees go if they are too high and they could even put her out of business. And our opponents thinks he's got problems with Joe the plumber? Well he should talk to Irma the restaurant owner because she's voting for John McCain too.
The working women of this country -- those who work inside the home and outside of the home -- they're overlooked by politicians in Washington and Barack Obama hasn't given us a single reason to believe that he would be any better. A company's balance sheet tallies up just the same whether it's a man who owns the business or a woman. And women want the same opportunities as men. And they're entitled to the same rewards. See, the point here, the point here is that women would suffer just as much from the massive tax increase that Senator Obama proposes. And, you know, there are a lot of families in this country with no father present. And when we make laws in Washington, those laws need to understand that -- they need to serve the mothers who are taking care of their families.
I've been very, very blessed to have a husband who's supported me along the way. He's a great dad who doesn't disappear at bath time or run from diaper duty and I appreciate that. But a lot of women have it much, much harder than I've had it. And they need child care -- which today can cost some families a third of their household budget. And they need reforms in labor laws that allow greater flexibility in the workplace, including more telecommuting. And they need a tax code that doesn't penalize working families. They need health care that the family can take with them when they move or change jobs. And they need better choices in retirement plans and worker retraining when things get tough. Women also need equal pay for equal work -- and not just be a 'talking point'.
Really, it is that simple. It's a matter of fundamental fairness -- fairness in this country. And to make all this happen, working mothers need an advocate and they will have one when this working mother is working for all of you in the White House.
When I was a kid, Congress passed a law that's come to be known as Title IX. And that law allowed millions of girls to play sports. And over time -- and over time, that opened more than just the doors to the gymnasium. Along with other reforms, Title IX helped us to see ourselves and our futures a different way. Women of my generation were allowed finally to make more of our own choices with education and with career, and I have never forgotten that we owe that opportunity to women, to feminists, who came before us. We were allowed to be participants instead of just spectators on the achievements of others. And I was lucky to have a lot of support at home too. Now among the many things I owe my parents is one simple lesson, and that was this is America and every woman can walk through every door of opportunity. The belief in equal opportunity is not just the cause of feminists, it's the creed of our country: equal opportunity.
And if I'm given the honor of serving you in the White House, I intend to advance that creed in our own nation and beyond because, across the world, there are still places where women are subjugated and persecuted as they were in Afghanistan, places where they're bullied and brutalized and murdered in honor killings, places where women are sold like commodities in the nightmare world of the sex trade, and places where baby girls are unwelcome as a matter of state policy and their mothers are forced to have abortions. Now no one person, no one leader, can bring an end to all of those ills, to all of the injustices inflicted upon women, but I can promise you this, if I am elected, these women, too, will have an advocate and a defender in the 47th vice president of the United States.
John McCain and I will be strong advocates for women's rights right here in the United States and around the world and we will confront the challenges that our country faces, challenges that concern all Americans.

There are approximately ten more minutes of the speech. You can
click here to view it at The Confluence, here to view it at Reclusive Leftist.

Yesterday's snapshot included the news that US District Judge Judge Benjamin Settle ruled Lt. Ehren Watada could not be retried on three of the five charges. Watada was the first officer to publicly refuse to deploy to the illegal war (June 2006). William Cole (Honolulu Advertiser) speaks with one of Ehren's civilian attorneys, Jim Lobsenz, who explains, "I'm pretty confident that some day, we will prevail in getting all of these charges thrown out. We've got three different arguments now on these two remaining charges. Which one of those arguments the court is ultimately going to latch on to as the one that says, 'You are right,' I don't know. But we have three, and I think they are all strong arguments." Cole also has a comment from Ehren's mother Carolyn Ho, "I think Ehren sees his decision as a personal one, and that he had to do something that was consistent with his conscience. So it can't be a function of what the masses think -- whether they vote yea or nay on what his decision is." KGMB9 News reports that Watada could "be discharged from the army without further prosecution" and that "[u]ntil the final two charges are cleared up, Watada is on desk duty at Ft. Lewis in Washington." KITV provides a brief summary as well as links to past coverage going back to 2006. And Amy Goodman of Pravda on the Hudson bungled Ehren's story yet again, claiming today:

In Washington State, a federal judge has ruled the military can't retry Ehren Watada, the first Army officer to refuse to deploy to Iraq.

No, Goody, the ruling was the Watada could not be retried on three of the five charges.

US District Judge Benjamin Settle says a second court-martial would violate Watada's right against double-jeopardy.

On those three charges.

His first court-martial ended in a mistrial. He had faced up to six years in prison.

And the two remaining charges could result "at most" in "one to two years" according to his attorney Jim Lobsenz. But never let facts interfere with Amy Goodman's propaganda especially when she's so busy being a gutter-snipe gossip (check out her second item -- just as Wally and Cedric feared last night) she can't get facts for real news correct.

In Iraq the so-called coalition of the willing gets smaller and smaller.
RIA Novosti reports that Kazakhstan withdrew their soldiers Tuesday ("29 sappers and engineers"). While the 'coalition' continues to shrink, US Secretary of State Condi Rice spent the day making multiple statements seemingly at odds with another and at odds with events in Iraq today. This morning, Reuters reported, Rice was headed to Mexico and stated that Iraq's security forces are unable to secure their country at present and, while she said "gains . . . have been made," she added, "But I don't think that anybody believes that they are capabel of doing that alone right now." Rice made those comments in an argument for Iraq signing off on the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement. Iraq is not ready? Events seem to disagree. CBS and AP report that the province of Babil was turned over to Iraqi forces today and it "is the 12th of 18 Iraqi provinces to be handed over and a sign of improving security." In fairness to Condi, it is a for-show handover but she knows that and knows how important the administration sees the publicity factor in these for-show gestures. So on the one hand, Rice says Iraq's not ready and on the other they're handed over control of another province. A province, that David Blair (Telegraph of London) notes, is known as the "Triangle of Death." Corinne Reilly (McClatchy Newspapers) adds, "A statement by the U.S. Embassy here called Thursday's handover 'a positive step on the path to Iraq's self-reliance'." But we're not done. Rice, still in Mexico, had another pronouncement by day's end. AP reports that she stated, "I think the Iraqis can defend their interests without the Iranians thank you very much -- that hasn't been the happiest relationship, ever." Were Rice having a 90s flashback, she would have said "thank you very much" with an arm wind-up and snap. But Iraq's not ready to defend itself she argues this morning. Then a province is handed over to Iraqi control. Then she states that Iraqi -- which she says needs help -- does not need Iranian help. It's been a very confusing day for the State Dept.

Robert Wood was over today's press briefing in DC. Wood stuck to ""We have a good text . . ." while also noting, "Sorry I don't have much more of an update, but that's really where we are."
Alaa Majeed (UPI) reports that the treaty was "featured in many Iraqi newspapers" today including Al-Basaer newspaper which leads with "More than 1 million protest the shameful SOFA" in Iraq and: "The Iraqi people see the Status of Forces Agreement as a mandate for the continued occupation of their country. Iraqi lawmakers should heed the voice of the people and speak out against the agreement, the newspaper said. The protesters have demanded Iraqi lawmakers oppose the measures in the agreement that allow U.S. forces to establish permanent military bases in the country and move swiftly against the measure before Americans elect their next president." AP reports that England is butting in with Bill Rammel (Middle East Minister) declaring in London today that Iraq needs to approve the treaty with the US and with Great Britain -- of course, England's his own area of supposed concern and expertise. Equally alarmist is the Financial Times of London which offers an editorial that attempts to shame Iraq into signing off on the treaty. For real motivation, FT hurls some insults, "More generally, this long occupation has infantilised Iraqi politics. It has thrown up dozens of mini Saddam Husseins playing zero sum games in an all-or-nothing fight for power and spoils. That is the question to be addressed, by the Iraqis and regional patrons of their different factions, as well as by the US." True, but the periodical hasn't been overly concerned about that for the last five years. The UN mandate expires December 31st and provides the authorization for foreign troops on Iraqi soil. Alissa J. Rubin and Katherine Zoepf (New York Times) reported this morning that Russia has declared it would not use its veto power as a (permanent) member of the UN Security Council should Iraq seek to renew the mandate. Only the five permanent members have veto power and the press has repeatedly voiced concerns on the part of the administration that Russia might attempt to prevent a renewal. Russia is now on record saying it would not do so. The five permanent members on the Security Council are France, UK, China, Russia and the US. So is the fear now China? If not, why is this avenue not being pursued at a time when US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and others in the administration are stooping to publicly bullying their puppet government in Iraq?

In Baghdad today,
Corinne Reilly and Jenan Hussein (McClatchy Newspapers) report on a car bombing targeting "a government convoy" of Labor Minister Mahmoud al Radhi this morning. The Telegraph of London explains the attack occurred during rush hour traffic and the bombing "left a four-wheel-drive vehicle burned out and the charred hulk of the apparent car bomb surrounded. The windows of nearby shops were shattered." Sources differ on whether or not al Rahdi was present but, if he was present, he wasn't harmed. (Use links and here's another claiming he wasn't present). Peter Graff (Reuters) reports al Rahdi was present and adds "A Reuters television cameraman in the vicinity filmed the blast but an Iraqi soldier confiscated his videotape. The cameraman, about 150 metres (yards) away at the time of the explosion, saw a car slam into a convoy of six or seven four-wheel-drive vehicles and explode in a ball of flame near Tahrir square in central Baghdad. Police and bodyguards in the convoy opened fire after the blast. Several vehicles crashed and others sped away." The death toll is said to be 11 with twenty-two more people wounded. Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the death toll is 13.

In other reported violence . . .

Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Mohammed Abu Atra ("head of the Diwaniyah Facility Protection Service") died of a Baghdad bombing today and a Baquba roadside bombing left thirteen injured. Reuters notes a Baijia roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers.

Reuters notes 1 person was shot dead in Kut by "Interior Ministry special forces" and another injured.

As the crisis in Mosul continues with Christians having fled and not feeling they can return, the
Archbishop of Kirkuk Louis Sako pens a request (Asia News) which includes:

I think that there is a political motive behind all this violence.
This campaign to drive out the Christians could conceal benefits of a political nature ahead of the upcoming elections in January of 2009, and the controversy over the approval of the provincial election law. The current law eliminates the quota reserved by tradition for Christians (and other minorities). Intimidating them and driving them out goes hand in hand with denying them representation. But the hypothesis cannot be excluded that the violence against the faithful also serves to reinforce the proposal for a Christian enclave in the plane of Nineveh.
We forcefully ask for government intervention to protect all Iraqis in difficulty, but above all the Christians, who are currently the most vulnerable. This is also a responsibility of the forces of occupation.
We are calling for the intervention of the international community to protect the minorities in Iraq, especially in the upcoming provincial elections. And we ask with particular urgency for the intervention of the United Nations and the European Union, that they call upon the Baghdad government to respect minorities in the upcoming elections.
The Iraqi parliament has approved a law that does not recognize the rights of minorities. This will lead to the definitive destruction of ethnic and religious minorities in this country, and will accelerate the exodus of the Christians.
We ask the Christians of the West not to be concerned solely about stock markets and the economy, but to denounce every form of violence and demonstrate solidarity and fellowship with us.

Lebanon's Daily Star reports that the country's Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri declared today that, "We are sure that the Christians in Iraq, as well as the Muslims, are the victims of conspiracies and sectarian strife aiming to weaken the country and split it apart. What our brotherly Christians in Baghdad, Mosul and the Nineveh Plains have been exposed to, from persecution to killing and displacement, has bled our hearts and wounded our souls. It has made us realize that our dear Iraq is still living in a state of concern about its fate." Also the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Syrian representative Lauren Jolles declared, "Many Christians from Mosul have been systematically targeted recently and are no longer safe there. We are ready to provide support for those Iraqis that seek refuge in neighbouring countries. We are grateful that Syria continues to welcome refugees." UNHCR has compiled a number of refugee accounts including a nurse ("Nina") who explains that she feld two weeks ago after the violence incrased and following threats which continued ("phone calls, letters and even messages on our door") for months.

Ben Leubsdorf (AP) notes that Ahmed Kousay al-Taie is the only US service member classified as "missing in the current Iraq war" and that he's been missing since October 23, 2006. Two years ago today. One day and one year ago is when Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) last blogged. Like many Iraqis, Riverbend and her family had to leave their country due to the violence. When she last blogged, October 22, 2007, her family was in Syria. Riverbend is part of the over 4,7 million internal and external Iraqi refugees produced by this illegal war.

Turning to the US presidential race, Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate.
Team Nader notes:

We're less than two weeks out.
As of yesterday, Ralph has campaigned in all 50 states.
Media exposure is picking up.
Crowds are getting bigger at the Nader rallies.
Last night, Ralph spoke before a packed crowd of over 1,000 in Boulder, Colorado.
Starting Monday, our radio ads will be playing in key states around the country.
On Saturday, Ralph will go for the world record for most campaign stops in a day as he motors across Massachusetts, hitting 21 towns and cities.
And tonight, Ralph will participate in a Third Party debate that will be shown live on C-Span at 9 p.m. EST.
We're firing on all cylinders.
And as of this writing, we're just $70,000 shy of meeting our goal of $200,000 by tomorrow night.
So, please,
donate now whatever you can afford -- $5, $10, $50, $100 -- up to the legal limit of $2,300.
Or, if you haven't purchased our Nader '08 Buffalo T-Shirt (
men's or women's), please do so now.
Let's drive the widget hard today.
Yesterday, late at night, the Nader Media Team pulled together a new video featuring National Campaign Coordinator Jason Kafoury.
Jason updates you -- our loyal supporters -- on where we stand -- and where we're heading.
Take a peek.
And then drive up the widget.
We haven't missed a deadline yet this year.
Let's get it done.
Onward to November

Saturday will be a very hectic campaign day for Team Nader:

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

Green Party presidential candidate
Cynthia McKinney will appear Saturday October 25 on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. Cynthia's running mate is Rosa Clemente and Cynthia will be in Seattle:

The Washington State Power To The People Campaign has announced that Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney will be visiting Seattle on Sunday, October 26th and Monday, October 27th. Scheduled activities include: Sunday, October 26, 2008 * 3pm - 7pm "Vote...Then What? From The Day After The Election Onward: Strategies for Community Organizing, Greening & Reconstruction" Umojafest Peace Center 24th Ave & E Spring St, Seattle The public is invited to attend. Cynthia McKinney will be speaking in support of grassroots and institutional solutions to violence and other issues plaguing urban communities nationwide. This event is hosted by the Umojafest Peace Center and the McKinney/Clemente 2008 Power To The People Campaign. The program will include hip-hop and spoken word performances, speakers from youth and community based organizations, and a showing of the award-winning film, American Blackout.Monday, October 27, 2008 * 11am - 12:30pm "The Power of Student Movements: How to Use Your Campus as a Tool to Change the World!" Broadway Performance Hall Broadway at Pine Street, Seattle The public is invited. Ms. McKinney will address the growing concerns of students, the need for student leadership, and how students can organize on campus to engage in and impact social justice struggles and make meaningful contributions to communities outside school. This event will be hosted by the Black Student Union of Seattle Central Community College.

John McCain is the Republican presidential candidate. Today
McCain-Palin released a new radio ad (click here to listen):

GOVERNOR CHARLIE CRIST: Hi, this is Governor Charlie Crist. Let me tell you why I support my friend John McCain. He will lower your taxes. He will stop wasteful government spending. And John McCain knows that people don't want to "spread the wealth." He knows that Congress should let you keep more of your money, and not take it away. Thank you very much. ANNCR: Your savings, your job and your financial security are under siege. Congressional liberals will make it worse. Congressional liberals plan nearly a trillion dollars in new government spending. To pay for it, Congressional liberals promise higher taxes on American families making over $42,000 a year. Barack Obama and Congressional liberals call it spreading the wealth around, we call it higher taxes, bigger government. Either way, it will cost you. Stop 'em before they make it worse. Paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee. JOHN MCCAIN: I'm John McCain and I approve this message.

Jimmy Orr (Christian Science Monitor) reports Joe Biden, Democratic v.p. nominee, is in media lock-down, "That's probably why the Democratic nominee for vice president isn't talking much. Because when he does, he's the gift that keeps on giving. Take the 'Gird your loins - an international crisis is coming' speech. No matter how the remarks were intended, his prediction that, if elected, 'a generated crisis [would occur] to test the mettle' of Barack Obama has been a hot topic and an unwelcome one for the Obama campaign."

ehren watada
the new york timesalissa j. rubinkatherine zoepf
jenan husseincorinne reillymcclatchy newspaperstelegraph of london

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chuck, Nader, Abeer

Hump day, hump day! Two days until the weekend. I was going to cook tonight -- don't laugh, I can cook a few things. But Elaine and I both ended up cooking. And that was pretty cool and turned out really cool which was surprising since we were just raiding the pantry and not really planning anything. She had a canned ham (someone gave her for Christmas last year, she thinks) and I knew from Dad how to fix that up in the oven so it would be like a really good briskette. And we had mashed potatoes and gravy and also black eyed peas. So it was really cool.

Then it was time to watch NBC's Chuck from last night which we Tivo-ed. I said I'd watch it some other time but Elaine wasn't in the mood for the news (The NewsHour) and we were also going to try to grab The New Adventures of Old Christine (which we did and was very funny). So let me talk about Chuck. Sarah's name was Jenny in high school. But that may or may not have been her name. She was using multiple names. The guy who recruited her for the CIA (the day her father was arrested) gave her the Sarah name.

Nicole Richie was a guest star. She played a character who went to high school with Sarah and was a real jerk to her then and now. So Chuck got to find out some more about Sarah's life. And Nicole's husband was a scientifically gifted guy who was selling secrets to the bad guys to make money for his marriage. So that was the big spy part of it only it turned out Nicole was in with the Russians as well. This all came out at the high school reunion.

It was a funny episode and the best moment -- my opinion -- was the end. Nicole Richie and Sarah had an intense fight and Sarah had some bruises and all. Chuck shows up with hamburger and there's a joke about how he couldn't afford steak. Then, Sarah tells him he deserves one answer about her life so go ahead, he can have one question and she'll answer it. Chuck decides he knows enough about Sarah and says he doesn't have a question. It was a really nice moment.

And you can go to Chuck and watch the episode online if you missed it.

So dinner was cool and we ate it and watched TV and then I had to do some cramming for classes and Elaine had some stuff for work and now it's blogging time.

Okay, here's a section of Foon Rhee's "Nader announces 'Massachusetts Marathon':"

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader announced today his own version of the Boston Marathon, a sprint across 21 cities and towns from Westfield to Sheffield across Massachusetts on Saturday -- what his campaign says will be the most stops ever in one day by a presidential candidate.
"We’re hoping for a big Nader voter turnout in Massachusetts – where Ralph got his third largest vote total (6.4 percent) in 2000," his campaign said.
Nader also announced that he'll air his first radio ads of the campaign, in 22 markets in 14 states.

If you're new to my blog, I'm voting for Ralph.

I'm happy for Ehren Watada tonight. I know it's not a real and full victory until the military stops attempting to go after him but the decision by Judge Settle today throws out three of the charges and makes it unlikely that Watada can be retried on the other two. It's a small victory until the military lets him out.

C.I. goes over this in the snapshot and points out that Watada's service contract expired December 2006. Pretty soon, he will have been kept in the military for two years so that they could try to punish him. You'd think the right-wing would be screaming their heads off now, griping about how Watada's being paid by the tax payers and how his court-martial was paid by the tax payers and how the military should just discharge him.

You have to wonder how long they're going to keep him in the service? He may end up having to sue just to get out. I'm not joking. That's something a number of people are thinking about right now.

But it was a little victory. Real victory will be Ehren getting to leave finally but this was a victory. And each step brings him closer to freedom. Or that's what I believe.

Abeer is the 14-year-old girl who was gang-raped while her parents and five-year-old sister were killed in the next room. Then Abeer was murdered. All the US soldiers involved in the war crimes have been punished except for Steven D. Green. This is the AP on Green:

Prosecutors filed court documents Wednesday that said former Pfc. Steven D. Green told FBI agents that "George Bush and Dick Cheney ought to be the ones that are arrested." The documents indicate the Kentucky-based soldier also said: "Guess I'm looking at spending the rest of my life in jail."

Here's another AP story:

Green, 22, faces 16 charges that include premeditated murder and aggravated sexual assault. He has pleaded not guilty and claims he was insane at the time of the March 2006 attack.
He was arrested a few months later at his grandmother's house in Nebo, N.C., about 80 miles northwest of Charlotte. Eventually he was brought back to Kentucky his unit was based. Green had been deployed in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division, which is based at Fort Campbell, an Army post on the Kentucky-Tennessee border about 185 miles southwest of Louisville. His remarks to the FBI agents came as he was being taken to jail, then to court in Charlotte, N.C. after his arrest.
Four other soldiers pleaded guilty or were convicted for their roles in targeting the girl from a checkpoint near Mahmoudiya, a village 20 miles south of Baghdad, and helping rape and kill her.

Yeah, this is a grab bag post. That happens when I'm overwhelmed with classroom readings. Sorry. Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Ehren Watada gets some legal news, the treaty still waits, and more.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Reuters notes a Mosul shooting that wounded an Iraqi soldier.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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