Sunday, August 24, 2008

Denver Super Rally: Putting the issues on the table

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."

Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate. He is a candidate not afraid to put issues on the table. What was Barack's big issue last week? Ah, yes, John McCain owns seven houses. Not only was it weak as an issue it was also insulting and sexist. John McCain has no house. John and Cindy McCain have seven houses. It takes a real pig to strip a woman of her home or homes. Barack is just such a pig.

While Barack was crying oink-oink all week long, Ralph Nader was raising the issues that actually matter. Housing? He addressed it as the very real issue that it is. From Ralph's Daily Audio, "Forestalling More of the Same:"

This is Ralph Nader. This year two and a half to three million Americans will lose their homes to foreclosures. Next year another two and a half to three million Americans will probably lose their homes. Instead of helping these Americans keep their homes, both the Democrats and the Republicans are bailing out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Wall St. banks and their high paid executives -- the same executives who got us into this mess by betting the house on sub-prime mortgages. I call this "Socialism for Spectators."

Senator McCain takes a hands-off approach to the mortgage meltdown. Senator Obama talks about helping the home owners but is surrounding himself with the culprits: Wall St. bankers. Obama's economic director? Robert Rubin protege Jason Furman.

Rubin was the Clintons' Treasury Secretary. He engineered the disastrous deregulation of Wall St. including the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act. This Depression-era law separated investment banks from commercial banking. Had it been in effect, the current mortgage crisis would have been limited.

Rubin went on to be an overpaid executive at Citigroup which he helped tank. Rubin is now advising Senator Obama. Nader-Gonzalez would bring back Glass Steagall.

Nader-Gonzalez would re-instate the usury laws that cap interest rates and we would regulate Wall St. instead of bailing it out on the backs of American tax payers.

This would include forcing mortgage companies to re-negotiate the mortgages of millions of home owners who are currently faced with being thrown out onto the street as a result of foreclosure.

Instead of punishing the home owners, Nader-Gonzalez would bring justice to the predatory lenders on Wall St. who deceived them and who got us into this mess in the first place.

Sounds like a plan. Let's move on to another one. "Debates Declaration:"

This is Ralph Nader. The two major parties -- Republican and Democratic Parties -- and their candidates seem to want to ration debates in this country. Why do we allow presidential debates to be rationed?

We don't allow weather reports to be rationed, entertainment to be rationed, sporting events to be rationed. But when it comes to the future of our country and it's place in the world, when it comes to the livelihoods and the necessities of the American people, we're left with three debates, so-called, in the fall with only Barack Obama and John McCain on the stage. Their own debate commission/corporation ensures that no one else on the stage and they're really not debates, they're like parallel interviews.

So we want people to open up the debates and to support the following declaration:

"We call for opening up the debates. The scope of discussion must be as broad and deep as the serious challenges we face as a nation. We agree that vibrant debate is the heart beat of our democracy and our First Amendment especially during an election year. We recognize that smaller third parties and independents have traditionally played a vital role in our democracy including leading the charge for the abolition of slavery, the women's right to vote and economic justice for workers and farmers. We support opening up the debates beyond the two parties and the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates -- which is a private corporation, co-chaired by former chairman of the Republican and Democratic Parties -- it's time for our presidential debates to once again be hosted by truly non-partisan, civic minded associations."

If you support this declaration, let's hear from you.

It's too bad there's not same way some people can get together and issue the call for the debates to be opened. While we try to think of some way that could happen, here's Ralph's "Join Our Super Rallies for Open Debates:"

Good morning, this is Ralph Nader. As you know, Nader/Gonzalez is being blocked from the presidential debates.

The corporate controlled so-called Commission on Presidential Debates will not let any independent candidate in unless they show 15% in a series of polls in September. That's no surprise. What is surprising is the failure of other debates to fill the vacuum. Part of this is due to Senator Obama's reluctance to engage his opponents.

On May 4th, Obama told Tim Russert on Meet The Press that he was willing to debate with "any of my opponents about what this country means, what makes it great." But earlier this month, Obama's campaign manager backed off, saying that Obama would debate only Senator McCain and only in the three rigged debates that's sponsored by the two parties and paid for by corporations.

Senator Obama's also refused to participate in a number of other debates including the Google debate in New Orleans, the Texas Ft. Hood debate that is being organized by veterans groups and the series of ten townhall meetings proposed by Senator McCain.

Senator Obama's refusal to participate is a mistake and is costing him in the polls. Just yesterday, the Gallup tracking polls put McCain and Obama tied at 44% each. If Obama doesn't agree to more debates he could end up at the end of a sentence that starts out "Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry.

With only McCain and Obama on the stage , there will be no debate of key issues and redirections important to the American people . Just go down the partial list. Single-payer Medicare for all health care, supported by the majority of the American people, the majority of doctors and nurses, and just recently, unanimously, by the US conference of mayors? Obama says "no," McCain says "no." Reversing US policy in the Middle East? Obama says "no," McCain says "no." Cut the bloated, wasteful, redundant military budget? Obama says "no," McCain says "no." They want a bigger military budget. Empty the prisons of drug possessors and fill 'em up with corporate criminals?

Obama says "no," McCain says "no."

Nader-Gonzalez says "yes" to each.

The only way to change this systemic exclusion is for millions of Americans to become engaged now. If you can, please join with us at our two Super Rallies-- on August 27th in Denver at the University of Denver Magness Arena or September 4th in Minneapolis at Orchestra Hall. And help us raise the banner for all to see: "OPEN THE DEBATES."

If you are not able to attend, please go to and donate now whatever you can up to the legal maximum of $4,600 to help fund our Open The Debates Campaign. Our goal is to raise $50,000 by Wednesday night. Last night, we were close to $14,000 in less than three days, but we have a ways to go. So join with us in Denver and Minneapolis if you can. We're planning to have some prominent activists and musicians with us. Stay tuned for more information on that. And we have some surprise, giant, inflatable visuals that should be a lot of fun, that will travel with us as we move from Denver to Minneapolis and then, hopefully, will bring attention to our Super Rallies from the press.

Thank you for your ongoing and considered support to our campaign. Together we are making a difference. Onward to November. I'm Ralph Nader.

Well, what do you know, that's already been worked out. And the first Super Rally is this Wednesday.


Along with Ralph and his running mate Matt Gonzalez, also announced as appearing are Cindy Sheehan, Val Kilmer, Tom Morello, Jello Biafra and Sean Penn. Tickets can be reserved here.
And those not in the Denver area Wednesday can tune into Free Speech TV starting at 9:00 p.m. EST, or click here to watch online (it will also be broadcast on public access channels).

We doubt Ralph will be dressing up gossip and passing it off as an "issue" at the Super Rally. We'll assume he'll address more important things, as he does in "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.

And he'll be the candidate taking on the military industrial complex, as he did last week in

"The Bloated Defense Budget:"

This is Ralph Nader. Remember reading or hearing the farewell address of President Dwight Eisenhower? 1960, when he warned Americans about what he called "the military industrial complex." Well, just a few words about where we are in the military budget. It's now 1/2 of the entire federal government's operating expenditures. It's way over $700 billion and that's not counting the money for helping our veterans. Both Obama and McCain want to increase the military budget. The Government Accountability Office yearly describes the gigantic Pentagon contracting budget unauditable. Just imagine, half of what the federal government spends in operating expenditures can't even be audited. For example, people inside the Defense Department think that the F-22 should never have been contract for, built wasn't necessary. The Osprey helicopter -- defective, killed quite a few marines in test flights, shouldn't have been built in their judgment. Hundreds of billions of dollars are in the pipeline for weapons systems that were designed for the Soviet Union-era of hostility. They no longer have any strategic value and many of them are redundant. We've got to cut the waste out of the huge military budget and put that money back into repairing America's public works and cities, towns and rural areas all over the country. If we cut out the expenditures of keeping our soldiers out of Japan and Western Europe -- 60-plus years after WWII -- a portion of that money could give free education to all students in public universities in the United States. Think about it. Think about who stands for a lean defense -- not a wasteful defense; who stands for respecting your tax payer dollar and returning it to you to improve the public facilities, schools and clinics, libraries, drinking water systems, sewage stream and plant upgrades among some of the deferred maintenance that's reducing the facilities that are necessary for a thriving community.

These issues won't be covered by Barack. And Patti Smith may think we have to support Barack but Patti Smith doesn't rule our lives, now does she? The woman who shocked the nation with "People Have The Power" (Rebecca: "Trust me, I saw the MTV debut of that 120 Minutes and they were very luke warm to the black & white video mainly because the song was considered too 'hippy' like and not 'punk' enough.") now wants to say that people have the power to cheerlead the corporate candidate. It's very, very sad. But Patti's far from alone in blocking out the Ralph Nader campaign. This is "Bob Herbert's World:"

This is Ralph Nader. The New York Times columnist Bob Herbert has a problem. He's written numerous columns complaining about presidential candidates and their campaigns ignoring serious policy issues. It's as if no one else is running for president in Bob Herbert's world other than Barack Obama and John McCain.

In a recent article that he wrote in the New York Times, he complains about how the two major candidates and their campaigns are ignoring the problems of the cities: the poverty, the transportation problems, the lack of repair and expansion of public works and facilities, the crime. He complains that the mayors have been complaining that they have been abandoned by Washington, citing a recent gathering of city mayors that he attended.

In one of these gatherings he cites the mayor of Meridian, Mississippi, John Robert Smith saying that he believes the nation should devote the same level of commitment to developing a first-rate passenger rail system as was marshalled for the interstate highway system in the Eisenhower era.

Well, the Nader-Gonzalez campaign has taken a strong stand for the expansion and modernization of passenger rail as a way to save energy, to reduce casualties on the highway and to provide more immediate evacuation of the cities in case of a calamity or a natural disaster.

But to Bob Herbert, the Nader Gonzalez campaign which supports almost one-for-one so many of the issues that he advances and champions doesn't exist.

To him, the Nader-Gonzalez campaign or any progressive third party campaign doesn't exist in his column so I say to Bob Herbert, "At least level with your readers, Mr. Herbert, tell them that you think the two major parties, Republican and Democrat, own all the voters and there's no one else on the ballot. At least level with them."

This is Ralph Nader.

In Bob Herbert's world, you only have the choice between McCain or Obama. In the real world, you have many more choices. In the real world, people actually have the power -- the power Patti Smith sings about if not embraces.

Ralph's Daily Audio is audio commentary the campaign posts Monday through Friday at the Nader-Gonzalez website.
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