Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Open the debates

This is from irish's "Voters Say Let Barr and Nader in on the Debates" (Political Lore):

For as long as I can remember, and that is a long time, the Presidential debates have been between the candidates of the two major parties. Third party candidates and independents have wanted to be included, but the Democrats and Republicans have seen to it that it did not happen. Except in 1980 when Robert Anderson, a former Republican who was running as an independent, took part in the first debate. However, Jimmy Carter refused to participate if Anderson was included, so the debate was just between Anderson and Ronald Regan.
The third party and independent candidates have tried to be included, but to no avail. The reasoning behind excluding them has been that it would take away from the discussion of the real issues between the candidates of the two major parties. This time around, according to the latest poll from Zogby, a majority of the voters want both Bob Barr and Ralph Nader to be included. This is not entirely surprising since there are more voters who say they are independent now than ever and Bob Barr is drawing about 4% in the polls, although he is not included in many of them either.

As we said at Third Sunday, "Open Up The Debates!" The debates are supposed to inform the citizens. The debates are not a gift to some of the candidates which they can use to exclude others from. That is not how it is supposed to work. The debates are supposed to be open to all and allow the citizens to decide whether there is someone on that stage that they wish to vote for or not. They cannot make an informed decision without the debates being open to all. Here is AFP on the Super Rallies:

Supporters of independent White House hopeful Ralph Nader plan to demonstrate at the Republican and Democratic conventions to push for him to be included in the presidential debates.
"This rally will be part of a massive outpouring of protest in Denver and Minneapolis against the two corporate controlled parties and their policies of perpetual militarism and war," the campaign said in a press release on its website.
As many as 7,000 people are expected to attend the Denver rally set to be held on August 27, the campaign said.

Ralph Nader, the independent presidential candidate, is staging Super Rallies to open the debates. He is fighting for democracy. He should not have to do that but he is willing to do that because the debates need to be opened. Bob Barr supporter John Uebersax (Satyagraha) explains it like this:

The Commission on Presidential Debates fails to appreciate the circularity of their reasoning. By excluding third parties from the debates, nobody learns about these parties, and therefore nobody supports them. American is force-fed a diet of 'Republicrat' propoganda. We continue to be presented with a narrow choice between the two major parties, which are basically clones of each other. This is something Americans should be angry about.
American needs fundamental change. There are solutions -- but these must entail bold, courageous, and innovative ideas. Those will not come from the Republican or Democrat parties, which both reflect the vested power interests that have produced the problems America faces.
Whom you vote for is up to you to decide. I wouldn’t try to influence your vote even if I could. But I will supply a link to the Libertarian party platform, and, for that matter, to Ralph Nader's too. Please take a minute to look at these -- just to see that there are good ideas out there. People need to see how badly the Democrat and Republican parties are shortchanging us.

So what is it going to take for America to wake up? I was on the phone with my friend Treva (we met in college, yes, they had college back then) and she pointed out something that really is important. In 2000, she did not vote for Ralph Nader. In 2004, she did not vote for Mr. Nader. In 2008, she did not expect to be supporting Mr. Nader. But she is. And she points to the Democratic Party's primary as a huge learning experience but, as she saw it become obvious that the nomination was going to be stolen from Senator Hillary Clinton, she just focused on what Mr. Nader stands for and, for example, got the issue of debate access. She did not grasp out how unfair it was to be shut out until this year on any level other than intellectual. She thinks that is happening to a lot of people -- and encounters a lot of people who verbalize that. So I think Mr. Nader has expanded his reach. I think we are paying attention to things that we might have dismissed or nodded along with but not really grasped. I do not know how much sense that makes; however, it was focus on the debates or write about my dream. If I have it again, I will be writing about it on Thursday. Tomorrow we will all be writing on the same topic and we have not decided what that topic is yet.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Iraqi forces raid the office of the governor of Diyala Province and shoot dead his secretary but no one knows how?, the issue of the oil-rich Kirkuk may have already been 'settled,' and more.

Starting with war resistance. US war resister
Jeremy Hinzman has been told he has until September 23rd to leave Canada. John Mackay (WSWS) explains, "Hinzman joined the US Army in early 2001, partly out of a sense of patriotism and adventure. However, he was primarily attracted by the promise of financial support for a university education. He says that more than a year after joining, he realized that he could not become a killer. He felt he could not dehumanize the people he was supposed to shoot. He applied for conscientious objector (CO) status in August 2002, but his command threw his application away. Hinzman subsequently reapplied while serving in Afghanistan, only to have his application turned down. In Afghanistan, while his CO application was being processed, Hinzman played a non-combatant role as an assistant to Haliburton employees serving meals to soldiers. Upon denial of his application for CO status, Hinzman was ordered to return to active duty. When his unit returned to the US with the understanding that they would soon be sent to Iraq, Hinzman deserted, crossing the Canadian border in January 2004 with his wife and young son and claiming refugee status." Nga Nguyen, Jeremy's wife, just gave birth to a daughter (Meghan) in July. We'll note again that the four are in a video at the War Resisters Support Campaign where Jeremy speaks to Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada:

Jeremy Hinzman: Hello, Mr. Harper. This is my family Nga, Liam and Meghan. We've been in Canada for the last four and a 1/2 years. I was a specialist in the 82nd Air borne division of the United States Army and served honorably in Afghanistan. In 2004, my family and I came to Canada because we would not participate in the Iraqi War, a war which Canada also refused to participate in because it was condemned by the international community. One of your predecessors, Pierre Trudeau, once said that Canada should be have from militarism and we took him at this word. On June 3, 2008, the Canadian Parliament passed a motion saying that United States war resisters should be able to remain in Canada. We're asking you to abide by this motion and allow us to stay in Canada. Thank you.

Title Card: On September 23rd, the Harper government plans to deport the Hinzman family back to the United States.

Title Card: Hinzman faces a court martial and up to 5 years in military prison for opposing the Iraq war and coming to Canada.

Title Card: War Resisters Support Campaign (Canada):

Courage to Resist alerts, "Supporters are calling on Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to intervene. Phone 613.996.4974 or email finley.d@parl.gc.ca,"Iraq Veterans Against the War also encourages people to take action, "To support Jeremy, call or email Hon. Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and ask her to intervene in this case. Phone: 613.996.4974 email: finley.d@parl.gc.ca." In addition to that, Canada's War Resisters Support Campaign is staging an emergency meeting this week (August 20th, Wednesday, 7:00 pm, Steelworkers Hall at 25 Cecil St.) and planning a day of action (September 13th) where
"[a]ctions, demonstrations and pickets will take place in cities and towns all across Canada."

A new documentary,
The Path of Most Resistance, addresses war resistance. Directed by Gareth Keogh, the film traces two US service members attempts to receive CO status. One receives it, one doesn't. Susannah Tarbush (Saudi Gazette) reports on the film noting that Daniel Baker and Robert Weiss are the two CO applicants. Anyone paying attention knows who was successful and who wasn't:

Daniel Baker joined the US Navy in 2004, but soon after being deployed in Qatar as a communications officer in 2006 he made a successful application for CO status. He now works for the Catholic Peace Fellowship, one of the organizations that advise CO applicants. In contrast, soldier Robert Weiss's application for CO status was turned down in December 2007. He said: "I feel that at this point I have no legal avenue for pursuing recognition of my beliefs, so therefore I have no choice but to leave the military rather than do something I feel is immoral." On December 22 he was due to fly back to Iraq, but saw no alternative but to go absent without leave (AWOL) for 30 days, the minimum time necessary to be classified as a deserter. He would then turn himself in and face the inevitable court martial and imprisonment. During his period of being AWOL, he was given refuge by a family with pacifist sympathies. In February he turned himself in, and on May 13 was court martialled. He is serving a seven-month sentence in a military prison in Mannheim, Germany.

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

Turning to Iraq,
Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) sketches out how oil-rich Kirkuk's fate already appears determined and how that took place because the central government (puppet) in Baghdad didn't do anything to mediate between Arabs, Kurds and Turkomans. Oppel writes, "Kurdish authority is visible everywhere in the city. In addition to the provincial government and command of the police, the Kurds control the Asaish, the feared undercover security service that works with the American military and, according to Asaish commanders, United States intelligence agencies." Oppel doesn't pursue that aspect which is a shame because the puppet government was controlled by the White House so the stand-down on Kirkuk was no acident. And US Col David Paschal can brag about how he made the call last month (as Turkmen and Kurds battled) not to send in the Iraqi forces but that call came from higher up. Mohammed Khalil ("leader of the Arab bloc on the provincial council") explains, "There is much fear. The Asaish are saying they will annex Kirkuk by force and that is terrifying people." For more realities on Kirkuk, see Stephen Farrell's "As Iraqis Vie for Kirkuk's Oil, Refugee Kurds Becomes Pawns" (December 9, 2007). Meanwhile the United Nation's IRIN advises today of how volatile the situation in Kirkuk remains and sites Baghdad University's Amer Hassan al-Fayadh explaining, "I do believe the best solution for Kirkk is that it be run as a separate region -- after resolving all pending issues between its segments, conducting a census and then letting its population determine its fate through a referendum, instead of one party imposing a solution." IRIN notes that the Iraqi Parliament attempts to impose a solution (in regular session last July and in special session early this month) have resulted "in daily demonstrations in favour of, or against, the new legislation."

Meanwhile the Associated Press has an article all over the place today (
here at Los Angeles Times, here at Washington Post, etc.) that is just rah-rah-rah about the US taking in Iraqi refugees and how the State Dept might meet their announced quota ("for the first time" is left unstated by Samantha Henry). But at Inside Iraq (McClatchy Newspapers) Sahar Issa explains, "For the second time now in one month Iraqi newspapers have published articles stating the U.S will not accept any more Iraqi refugees." And before some idiot says, "Well it's the 2008 quota and it's been met!" Fiscal year. Which ends September 30th. Meaning October 1st starts the next (fiscal) year. Zaineb Naji (Baghdad Life, Wall St. Journal) examines the changing policies on Iraqi refugees for surrounding countries:

Last year, Syria announced new rules for Iraqis coming to Syria and for the first time, required us to get visas. But only academics, merchants, and taxi and truck drivers would qualify for visas. You can also get permission to travel to Syria if you are going there for medical treatment.
[. . .]
This time as we went through customs, two Iraqi soldiers came up to us and used a scanning device to check us. Then American soldiers took our biometrics information, including an eye scan. The people who passed got an "OK" written on their right hand with a black marker.
"Just like sheep" a young woman said to the American soldier when she got the "OK" mark on her hand. The soldier said "sorry" several times and explained that this was the procedure.
Two hours later, we were on the Syrian side of the border and again we had to line up to get our passports checked. In the arrival hall, people were shouting and pushing each other to reach the immigration desk. I was told to step aside by one of the customs officers, who said I was blocking his view of the television set.
In the hall, there was an extra "fee" for each kind of visa. Merchants were asked to pay $10, while for the sick, the price was $5. For our transit visas, the fee was $4 each. Everyone got a stamp that allowed them to stay in Syria for one month and then we were on the bus again.
At the end of the trip, I realized that Iraqis are always suffering, whether it's inside their country or outside of it.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Nineveh Province car bombing that left five people wounded.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad attack in which 1 police officer was shot dead and three were left wounded and, in Kirkuk, a police shooting is under examination as a result of the deaths of a man and his father. Reuters notes a raid conducted by "Iraqi security forces" in Baquba on "the office of the governor of Diyala province" which resulted in the death of "his secetary". Reuters notes the name of the dead is Abbas Ali Hmoud and that Raad Rasheed Mulla Jawad (the governor of the province) has stated, "The body of the martyr [Abbas Ali Hmoud] will stay in the building until the iillers are captured." Though the US military admits at least 1 US helicopter was present they deny that the US military had any knowledge or participation in the raid. Maybe they were just jumping the gun on the August 22nd National Airborne Day? Also playing dumb is the puppet government in Baghdad which is ordering an investigation. AFP reports that Nouri al-Maliki, puppet of the occupation, "ordered the formation of a committee to find out how Iraqi forces came to fight each other in Baquba" and notes that, in addition to the secretary being murdered, a bodyguard was also shot dead. CNN notes, "Hussein al-Zubaidi, a provincial council member, and Nazar al-Khafaji, the Diyala University dean, were arrested during the raid, the official said."

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 20 corpses were discovered in Diyala Province.

Today the
US military announced: "A Multi-National Division - Center Soldier was killed as a result of a rocket attack on a forward operating base near Amarah Aug. 19." ICCC's count is 4144 for the total number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war and 17 for the month.

Turning to the US presidential race. The Democratic Party holds its convention in Denver shortly.
AP notes, "Independent Ralph Nader planned to attend a rally at Denver University on Aug. 27, the night before Obama accepts his party's nomination. And Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney was scheduled to address supporters after an anti-war march through downtown Denver on Sunday, the day before the convention opens." Christopher Keating (Hartford Courant) notes that independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's campaign was set to turn in petitions today in New York and Alabama making them the 31st and 32nd states the Ralph Nader - Matt Gonzalez ticket will be on the ballots of. Foon Rhee (Boston Globe) adds that the Nader campaign is set to submit their signatures to be on the Massachusetts ballot. The Nader campaign states it has around 17,000 signatures gathered, that Massachusetts would be the 34th state they'd be on the ballot of and that "Michael Richardson, Massachusetts Nader/Gonzalez 2008 Coordinator, will hold a Weds. Aug. 20, 10 a.m. news conference at the Elections Division office, McCormack Bulding, Room 1705, One Ashburton Place, Boston, Mass. 02108"..

Ralph's Daily Audio, this is "The Difference Between The Two Parties:"

This is Ralph Nader. Just how different are the two major parties? Well I've often said that the towering similarities between the two parties are far greater than the dwindling differences they're really willing to fight over. It's clear that the Democrats are better than Republicans on Social Security, civil justice, the right to go to court if you're wrongfully injured, civil rights and a number of other issues. But consider the similarities. As I've said when it comes to the overriding issue of the corporate takeover of our federal government department by department, agency by agency, the two parties differ in the velocity with which their knees hit the floor when corporations pound on their door.
The two parties are pretty similar on foreign and military policy. In recent weeks the leading foreign affairs reporters for the Washington Post and the New York Times said that Obama would be similar in his foreign and military policy to the second term of George W. Bush. They're both pushing for more military budget. They haven't singled out a single weapons system that they think is obsolete, redundant or not needed.
They both are not doing anything about cracking down on corporate crimes commensurate with the violations of health and safety laws by the corporations in the looting and draining of trillions of dollars of mutual fund savings and pension funds they both are furthering the perforation of the tax code corporate loopholes and offshore havens. They both have put the regulatory agencies under anesthesia. They both are in a race to get more and more private special interest money into elections corrupting our election process. You ever hear them mention in any specifics what they're going to do about consumer protection or what they're going to do about repealing anti-worker, anti-union laws like Taft-Hartley? No way. Similarly silent.
The Democrats took over the Congress in January 2007, they haven't rolled back any of the legislation or even made a major college try to roll back the bad legislation that Bush and his Congressional Republicans have passed So we can go and on but just think about it, how necessary it is to have somewhere else on the ballot line to cast your vote. Nader-Gonzalez. Thank you.

Team Nader notes:

We are in a sprint to the finish line.That would be November 4.
And we're not about to let up.
But for the first time since we started this campaign, we are in danger of not meeting one of our financial goals.
We set a goal of $50,000 by tomorrow night 11:59 p.m.
As of now, we are just under $30,000.
So, we need to ramp it up.
Big time.
And now.
We need 2,000 of you -- our loyal supporters -- to drop
$10 each.
That simple.
So hit that there
contribute button.
drop a ten spot on Nader/Gonzalez.
Time to get it done.
By the way, did you hear some of the big names that are coming to our Super Rallies in Denver and Minneapolis?
Not just our own caped crusader.
But also --
Huey Long?
The Anti-Pelosi?
Stay tuned.
Here's one person who will be there for sure.
Ashley Sanders.
Ashley who?
Ashley Sanders.
Ashley gave one of the most eloquent and thought provoking endorsements of the Nader/Gonzalez candidacy this year.
Check out Ashley here -- introducing Ralph in Utah last month.
But first things first.
Let's not miss this deadline.
Kick it in so we can push it over the top.
Onward to November.

Cynthia McKinney is the Green Party presidential nominee and she has upcoming appearances this week (tomorrow and Thursday):Wednesday, August 20th McKinney will make 3 stops in Memphis. That evening she will be in Jackson, Tennessee for a fundraiser hosted by the Madison County Green Party.Thursday, August 21st McKinney's first stop is in Dickson to meet with representatives of the community who have been affected by the dumping of toxic waste in their community. Then to Nashville for an 11:00 AM Press Conference in Room 31, Legislative Plaza speaking to the press about her campaign. This event is open to the public. Following the press conference Ms McKinney will speak directly to the public and take questions. This will also be in Legislative Plaza, Room 31.That morning Greens will turn in their nominating petitions to secure her position on the general election ballot in Tennessee. "Due to Tennessee's oppressive election access laws Ms McKinney will be listed on the ballot as an independent candidate which we can achieve with 275 valid signatures. It would take over 45,000 valid signatures to get her listed with the "Green" affiliation. The Green Party is currently a litigant against the state seeking ballot access laws that are fair", said John Miglietta a delegate to the Green Party of the US and a Green Candidate for US House District 5.Following the Press Conference she is scheduled to visit Tennessee State University, Fisk University and Carver Food Park where Sizwe Herring of EarthMatters Tennessee teaches children and community members about the value of composting and principles of ecology.
Those appearances start tomorrow and the Geen Party website still has nothing up.

iraqjeremy hinzmanjohn mackaydaniel bakerrobert weisssusannah tarbushchristopher keating
the new york timesrichard a. oppel jr.stephen farrellleila fadelmcclatchy newspapers