Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Morning After

by Zina Saunders at 6:30 am on November 5th

Open Letter to Senator Barack Obama from Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader for President 2008

November 4, 2008

Open letter to Senator Barack Obama

Dear Senator Obama:

In your nearly two-year presidential campaign, the words "hope and change," "change and hope" have been your trademark declarations. Yet there is an asymmetry between those objectives and your political character that succumbs to contrary centers of power that want not "hope and change" but the continuation of the power-entrenched status quo.

Far more than Senator McCain, you have received enormous, unprecedented contributions from corporate interests, Wall Street interests and, most interestingly, big corporate law firm attorneys. Never before has a Democratic nominee for President achieved this supremacy over his Republican counterpart. Why, apart from your unconditional vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, are these large corporate interests investing so much in Senator Obama? Could it be that in your state Senate record, your U.S. Senate record and your presidential campaign record (favoring nuclear power, coal plants, offshore oil drilling, corporate subsidies including the 1872 Mining Act and avoiding any comprehensive program to crack down on the corporate crime wave and the bloated, wasteful military budget, for example) you have shown that you are their man?

To advance change and hope, the presidential persona requires character, courage, integrity-- not expediency, accommodation and short-range opportunism. Take, for example, your transformation from an articulate defender of Palestinian rights in Chicago before your run for the U.S. Senate to an acolyte, a dittoman for the hard-line AIPAC lobby, which bolsters the militaristic oppression, occupation, blockage, colonization and land-water seizures over the years of the Palestinian peoples and their shrunken territories in the West Bank and Gaza. Eric Alterman summarized numerous polls in a December 2007 issue of The Nation magazine showing that AIPAC policies are opposed by a majority of Jewish-Americans.

You know quite well that only when the U.S. Government supports the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements, that years ago worked out a detailed two-state solution (which is supported by a majority of Israelis and Palestinians), will there be a chance for a peaceful resolution of this 60-year plus conflict. Yet you align yourself with the hard-liners, so much so that in your infamous, demeaning speech to the AIPAC convention right after you gained the nomination of the Democratic Party, you supported an "undivided Jerusalem," and opposed negotiations with Hamas-- the elected government in Gaza. Once again, you ignored the will of the Israeli people who, in a March 1, 2008 poll by the respected newspaper Haaretz, showed that 64% of Israelis favored "direct negotiations with Hamas." Siding with the AIPAC hard-liners is what one of the many leading Palestinians advocating dialogue and peace with the Israeli people was describing when he wrote "Anti-semitism today is the persecution of Palestinian society by the Israeli state."

During your visit to Israel this summer, you scheduled a mere 45 minutes of your time for Palestinians with no news conference, and no visit to Palestinian refugee camps that would have focused the media on the brutalization of the Palestinians. Your trip supported the illegal, cruel blockade of Gaza in defiance of international law and the United Nations charter. You focused on southern Israeli casualties which during the past year have totaled one civilian casualty to every 400 Palestinian casualties on the Gaza side. Instead of a statesmanship that decried all violence and its replacement with acceptance of the Arab League's 2002 proposal to permit a viable Palestinian state within the 1967 borders in return for full economic and diplomatic relations between Arab countries and Israel, you played the role of a cheap politician, leaving the area and Palestinians with the feeling of much shock and little awe.

David Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator, described your trip succinctly: "There was almost a willful display of indifference to the fact that there are two narratives here. This could serve him well as a candidate, but not as a President."

Palestinian American commentator, Ali Abunimah, noted that Obama did not utter a single criticism of Israel, "of its relentless settlement and wall construction, of the closures that make life unlivable for millions of Palestinians. ...Even the Bush administration recently criticized Israeli's use of cluster bombs against Lebanese civilians [see for elaboration]. But Obama defended Israeli's assault on Lebanon as an exercise of its 'legitimate right to defend itself.'"

In numerous columns Gideon Levy, writing in Haaretz, strongly criticized the Israeli government's assault on civilians in Gaza, including attacks on "the heart of a crowded refugee camp... with horrible bloodshed" in early 2008.

Israeli writer and peace advocate-- Uri Avnery-- described Obama's appearance before AIPAC as one that "broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning, adding that Obama "is prepared to sacrifice the most basic American interests. After all, the US has a vital interest in achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace that will allow it to find ways to the hearts of the Arab masses from Iraq to Morocco. Obama has harmed his image in the Muslim world and mortgaged his future-- if and when he is elected president.," he said, adding, "Of one thing I am certain: Obama's declarations at the AIPAC conference are very, very bad for peace. And what is bad for peace is bad for Israel, bad for the world and bad for the Palestinian people."

A further illustration of your deficiency of character is the way you turned your back on the Muslim-Americans in this country. You refused to send surrogates to speak to voters at their events. Having visited numerous churches and synagogues, you refused to visit a single Mosque in America. Even George W. Bush visited the Grand Mosque in Washington D.C. after 9/11 to express proper sentiments of tolerance before a frightened major religious group of innocents.

Although the New York Times published a major article on June 24, 2008 titled "Muslim Voters Detect a Snub from Obama" (by Andrea Elliott), citing examples of your aversion to these Americans who come from all walks of life, who serve in the armed forces and who work to live the American dream. Three days earlier the International Herald Tribune published an article by Roger Cohen titled "Why Obama Should Visit a Mosque." None of these comments and reports change your political bigotry against Muslim-Americans-- even though your father was a Muslim from Kenya.

Perhaps nothing illustrated your utter lack of political courage or even the mildest version of this trait than your surrendering to demands of the hard-liners to prohibit former president Jimmy Carter from speaking at the Democratic National Convention. This is a tradition for former presidents and one accorded in prime time to Bill Clinton this year.

Here was a President who negotiated peace between Israel and Egypt, but his recent book pressing the dominant Israeli superpower to avoid Apartheid of the Palestinians and make peace was all that it took to sideline him. Instead of an important address to the nation by Jimmy Carter on this critical international problem, he was relegated to a stroll across the stage to "tumultuous applause," following a showing of a film about the Carter Center's post-Katrina work. Shame on you, Barack Obama!

But then your shameful behavior has extended to many other areas of American life. (See the factual analysis by my running mate, Matt Gonzalez, on You have turned your back on the 100-million poor Americans composed of poor whites, African-Americans, and Latinos. You always mention helping the "middle class" but you omit, repeatedly, mention of the "poor" in America.

Should you be elected President, it must be more than an unprecedented upward career move following a brilliantly unprincipled campaign that spoke "change" yet demonstrated actual obeisance to the concentration power of the "corporate supremacists." It must be about shifting the power from the few to the many. It must be a White House presided over by a black man who does not turn his back on the downtrodden here and abroad but challenges the forces of greed, dictatorial control of labor, consumers and taxpayers, and the militarization of foreign policy. It must be a White House that is transforming of American politics-- opening it up to the public funding of elections (through voluntary approaches)-- and allowing smaller candidates to have a chance to be heard on debates and in the fullness of their now restricted civil liberties. Call it a competitive democracy.

Your presidential campaign again and again has demonstrated cowardly stands. "Hope" some say springs eternal." But not when "reality" consumes it daily.

Ralph Nader

I love the smell of Republican desperation in the morning


Democrats were outvoting Republicans in all nine states that track the party affiliations of early voters, indicating a likely election victory for Barack Obama. "It's gonna get nasty," Obama told a crowd in Missouri. Republicans claimed that Democrats were coercing dementia patients to cast absentee ballots, and fliers posted in black neighborhoods of Philadelphia falsely warned that voters with unpaid parking tickets would be arrested at the polls. It was reported that Obama's half-aunt Zeitun Onyango lives in a Boston housing project and is an illegal immigrant--a detail likely leaked by the Bush Administration against the procedures of the Department of Homeland Security. Evidence emerged that during the Senate Ethics Committee investigation of the Keating Five scandal in 1990, John McCain allegedly committed perjury and illegally leaked details to the press that made himself seem innocent and his colleagues seem guilty--actions that had they been exposed at the time, could have resulted in McCain's expulsion from the Senate. Novelist John Updike endorsed Obama. "I am so much for Obama," said the author of "Terrorist," "it would be hard for me to cook up a character who was for McCain." Dick Cheney endorsed McCain, and two white-supremacist skinheads were arrested in Tennessee for plotting to kill 88 people, behead 14 African Americans, and assassinate Barack Obama while wearing white tuxedos and top hats. Author Erica Jong told an Italian interviewer, "If Obama loses, it will spark the second American Civil War. Blood will run in the streets, believe me. And it's not a coincidence that President Bush recalled soldiers from Iraq for Dick Cheney to lead against American citizens in the streets." Madelyn Dunham, Obama's 86-year-old grandmother, died of cancer, and a man leaped to his death from the Spaghetti Bowl, in El Paso, Texas, leaving behind a note that read, "Obama take care of my family."
American consumer spending declined by 0.3 percent, its first dip in 17 years. "The economy has taken a turn for the worse, big time," said Allen Sinai of Decision Economics. Experts predicted a period of deflation, or falling prices--a condition that wrecked Japan's economy throughout the 1990s. "We could get into a vicious circle of deepening malaise," said economist Nouriel Roubini. The Treasury Department declined a request for $10 billion from General Motors to help finance its possible merger with Chrysler, which would result in the elimination of thousands of jobs. Somali pirates were reported to have attacked 75 vessels this year and were on track to make $50 million in tax-free profits. "All you need is three guys and a little boat, and the next day you're millionaires," said Abdullahi Omar Qawden, formerly a captain in Somalia's defunct navy. Studs Terkel died, and the Christian Science Monitor announced that it will drop its print edition and publish only on the Web. A drum maker in London died after inhaling anthrax from an African animal skin he was using to make a drum, and Chuckie Taylor, Boston-born son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, was convicted in a Miami court of torture and conspiracy--the first instance of a conviction under a 1994 law that allows for the prosecution of American citizens accused of committing torture overseas. Charred flint found in Israel indicated that human ancestors--either Homo erectus or Homo ergaster--mastered fire 790,000 years ago, and a barn fire in Waterville, Nova Scotia, incinerated 1,000 hogs.
An Ohio judge ruled that the homeless may list park benches as their residences in registering to vote. A Montreal comedian posing as French Prime Minister Nicholas Sarkozy made a prank call to Sarah Palin and spoke to the candidate for five minutes about hunting, her foreign-policy experience, and Sarkozy's wife, Carla Bruni. "I must say, Governor Palin, I love the documentary they made on your life, you know, Hustler's 'Nailin' Palin,'" said the caller, referring to a pornographic video. "Oh, good, thank you," Palin replied. "Yes." Evangelicals were praying to block curses against McCain and Palin they believed were emanating from the witches and warlocks of Kenya. Obama paid an estimated $3 million to air an infomercial on three television networks, and McCain diverted funds away from ground operations to pay for more television advertising. Appearing on "Saturday Night Live," the Arizona Senator said, "I'm a true maverick, a Republican without money." Kay Hagan, a Democratic candidate for Senate in North Carolina, filed an application to sue her opponent, the incumbent Republican Elizabeth Dole, for an ad associating Hagan with the Godless Americans Political Action Committee. "Godless Americans and Kay Hagan," says the ad. "She hid from cameras. Took 'Godless' money. What did Kay Hagan promise in return?" The spot, which lawyers for Dole called "100 percent factually accurate and truthful," concludes with an image of Hagan and a female voiceover that states, "There is no God."
-- Christian Lorentzen

John McCain's last minute path to victory!

Dogs ready for mass wedding


Terriers in tuxes and dachshunds in dresses are likely to be among the pooches gathered Nov. 8 in Downtown Oak Park as the village attempts to set a new world record for hosting the largest dog wedding.

The mass dog wedding, "I Do, Doggone It," will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday on Marion Street at Westgate Street, between North Boulevard and Lake Street.

The record, according to Guinness World Records, stands at 178 dog "couples" set May 2007 in Littleton, Colo. So far 10 couples have registered for Oak Park's dog wedding, but organizers remain hopeful a new record will be set.

"I think Oak Park is absolutely able to break the record," said Pat Zubak, executive director of Downtown Oak Park, which is organizing the mass dog wedding. "My hope is that everybody who has dogs will sign up and come out for the event.

"The pressure is on because the Guinness adjudicator will be here," Zubak said.,op-dog-110508-s1.article


"Every single one of Obama's friends is a dangerous lunatic."
- Ann Coulter on Hannity & Colmes

Nader wins!

Voting for the President--A New Type of Transparency
Danielle Regis, the treasurer of the 10th grade, introduced the candidates. From left to right:
Bari Saltman, Zak Sawyer, Emily Graham, Nia James, and Jesse Goldberg.

Imagine being in the voting booth and the only thing you have to go on is the candidates' stand on the issues. Imagine voting purely based on a candidate's record. Imagine not knowing anything about a candidate's personality. Imagine not even knowing a candidate's gender or race. Imagine that nothing would get in the way of making an educated, informed decision.

The Upper School Student Council imagined such an election and on October 28, 2008 five candidates addressed the entire Upper School. Under the direction of teacher Taylor Black, they presented issue-oriented platforms, presenting their stance on Iraq, Afghanistan, healthcare, abortion, the bailout, gay marriage, drilling for oil, immigration, death penalty, public education, and Israel.

The students listened and then they voted. It was only after they elected Bari Saltman that they learned they had elected Ralph Nader (Bari received 46% of the votes). Zak Sawyer stood in for McCain and received 4%; Emily Graham, being Obama, got 29% of the votes; Nia James represented the Libertarian Bob Barr and earned 2% of the votes; and Jesse Goldberg was Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney and took 17%.


photoA thing is about to happen which has not happened since the Elder Days.
- J.R.R. Tolkien

    It has been a long and terrible time since tomorrow mattered as much as it does today.

    It began with that first terrible election, the media manipulations, the stolen and uncounted votes, the menacing mobs, and a decision by the highest court which sealed our doom. A man who was not chosen came to possess an office he was unworthy of, and everything that since has come to pass now seems almost preordained, fated, inevitable.

    We have seen tax cuts which looted our Treasury and further enriched the wealthy, we have seen presidential vetoes of legislation designed to heal the sick and feed the children, and we have seen executive orders designed to shatter the Constitution and erase our rights. We have seen annihilation by fire and water visited upon our cities and ourselves. We have seen wars and rumors of wars. We have seen fear visited upon the populace by design. We have seen terrorists, and all too often, they have been us.

    We have known death, and disgrace, and failure, and greed, and theft, and shame, and utter lawlessness. We have lost hope, and been afraid, and fallen to exhaustion and despair. We have seen torture and murder stamped with the seal of highest approval, and we have become what we despise.

    But tomorrow is a different matter.

    Tomorrow is a place of definitions, where change may come and be welcome even in the smallest degree. Tomorrow will see millions upon millions from every national nook and cranny pour forth in celebration of their own lone and lonesome voices.

    Tomorrow, we will know.

 It has been a long, strange and entirely preposterous course that has brought us today to the edge of our next tomorrow. Millions of new voters rewrote an old, calcified map. Fifty states one and all had their say, and their say mattered to the last of it. Money mattered less than organization, less than passion, less than hope, less than tomorrow.

    There are many eyes upon us today as we prepare to step into tomorrow. The eyes of those lost in fire and smoke of a bright September morning watch us, the eyes of those lost in needless battle watch us, the eyes of those subsumed by an invading sea watch us, the eyes of those lost to disease and poverty and greed watch us, the eyes of all those lost who should not be so are upon us, they remember what we did yesterday, and they will see us tomorrow.

    What they call change is nothing more than choice. Tomorrow is another choosing, perhaps the greatest of our lives. Something will happen, and afterward, we will know.

    Tomorrow has come at last.

Message from Robin Hood

Gracie Allen's 'Surprise' White House Run

Remembering Gracie Allen's White House Run

Listen Now [6 min 14 sec] add to playlist

In 1940, the United States was just emerging from the shadow of the Great Depression and war loomed in Europe.

Into these serious times stepped Gracie Allen, part of the popular comic duo Burns and Allen, who launched a campaign for president.

Allen's Surprise Party began as a publicity stunt, but during a whistle-stop tour across the country the campaign took on a life of its own.

This story was produced by Joe Richman of Radio Diaries.

8 ball in the corner pocket

California GOP Files FEC Complaint Over Obama Visit to Grandmother

By Matthew Mosk

Perhaps the most ill-timed press release of the 2008 campaign arrived shortly after 1:30 p.m. today, sent by the Republican National Committee.

The release forwarded word that the California Republican Party filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, in part because of a visit Sen. Barack Obama made to his dying grandmother.

"Obama for America violated federal law by converting its campaign funds to Senator Obama's personal use," the release stated. "Senator Obama recently traveled to Hawaii to visit his sick grandmother. This was the right thing for any grandson to do -- at his own expense -- but it was not travel that his campaign may fund."

At issue was whether the trip should have been paid for with campaign funds, based on the law that forbids candidates from using such funds to pay for personal travel. The Obama campaign said the trip had been vetted with lawyers beforehand and was allowable. The Republicans argued that, because Obama did not campaign during the quick journey to Hawaii, it should not have been a campaign expense.

But filing the complaint today now seems to have been ill-advised, if not legally, then certainly politically.

Studs for Obama

Hearing that Barack Obama is visiting his ailing grandmother made me think of another old-timer who's hanging in there, hoping to see history made if America elects its first African-American president.

And so I gave him a call. Studs Terkel, now ninety six years old. He's done as much as anyone in this country - and far more than most - to advance civil rights. He wrote oral histories and other books and hosted a radio interview show on Chicago's WFMT for forty-five years.

I asked Studs, if he were to interview Obama, what would he ask him? That got him going. Studs is always "going." When he talks, he's going, still today, full speed ahead with ideas and enthusiasm. The unmistakable ever-crackly voice on the end of the line shouted,

I'd ask Obama, do you plan to follow up on the program of the New Deal of FDR?

I'd tell him, 'don't fool around on a few issues, such as health care. We've got bigger work to do! Read FDR's second inaugural address!'

The free market has to be regulated. And the New Deal did that and they provided jobs. The government has to. The WPA provided jobs. We have got to get back to that. We need more reg-u-la-tion.

I was just watching Alan Greenspan, he's an idiot, and by the way so was Ayn Rand!

Community organizers like Obama know what's going on. If they remember. The important thing is memory. You know in this country, we all have Alzheimer's. Obama has got to remember his days as an organizer. It all comes back to the neighborhood. Well I hope the election is a landslide for Obama.


I started to ask Studs about the pioneering Chicago organizer Saul Alinksy, whose name has been disparaged recently by the Republicans and as soon as he heard that name, he belted out,

The idiots! They label Saul Alinksy - the great neighborhood organizer - as a subversive! He's been dead for 35 years and he was honored by the Catholic Church! He's no subversive. Neither is Bill Ayers! That Sarah Palin - you know, she's Joe McCarthy in drag!

This from a man who was investigated by Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1953. Studs refused to give evidence against other left-wing activists and he was blacklisted and his television contract was canceled.

The 1st Family