Sunday, October 26, 2008

Truest statement of the week

"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."

-- Mark Hosenball, "The Death-Threat Debate" (Newsweek).

Truest statement of the week II

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.

-- Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics author Paul Street ("Why Barack Didn’t Hire Me: On Obama, Niebuhr, and the Manipulation of Populism by Elitism," ZNet).

A note to our readers

Hey --
Another Sunday.

As always, thank you to Dallas for his work on this edition and the following also worked on it:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
and Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ.

And here's what we came up with:

Truest statement of the week -- There were seven nominees for truests and we actually had to vote several times. Newsweek ended up winning in the fifth round.

Truest statement of the week II -- Paul Street came in a close second. The other five were worthy as well.

Editorial: Ehren Watada matters and so do the facts -- Ehren's not free. He's still reporting for duty. Three of the five charges were dropped last week. All of them were not. Facts matter. Photos from

TV: Disturbing Behavior -- Ava and C.I. ticked me (Jim) off with this. Their draft included seven paragraphs at the end of reports from SNL and 30 Rock. That was just our 'fun,' I was told. But it was too good to leave out. They finally compromised with one bit they'd include and then allowed for one quote. This is a really strong commentary and we know you'll like it.

Campaign Roundup (Ava and C.I.) -- and we know you'll like this additional piece by Ava and C.I. Mike had regretted, at the end of the writing session, that we didn't note Nader's marathon in any way. I thought about it and agreed it needed to be noted. I gave Ava and C.I. the choice between editing and typing or grabbing this assignment. They chose editing and typing. I then tried, "But we'll be done quicker if you write it." They finally relented. The Pacifica point? Ava and C.I. have pitched that for about six weeks now. It should have been its own article but there was never time. I'm glad they worked it into this because otherwise it never would have been addressed. The photos. They say: "We wrote it, we wanted two Sarah photos in it." Good enough for me. But they add, "Everyone's trying to guess if we're supporting Ralph or Cynthia. We're not saying. People know we aren't voting for McCain-Palin and we liked the two photos and felt it was to show support for Oklahoma community members as well as others readers who are supporting the McCain-Palin ticket." And for the record, it may be a guy thing, but Mike and I are thrilled about the marathon while Ava and C.I. have kindly stated it might get press attention and otherwise not given a damn.

Roundtable -- Long planned, finally dealt with. This is the religion roundtable. Hope you enjoy.

The stupidity of academia -- Elaine and C.I. were toying with a joint-article about Bill and Bernardine. That got placed on hold because some minor points from it could be worked into this.

Musical facts are still facts -- Closest we have to a mailbag this week.

Smoke-free (Dona) -- Dona wrote this and it's about her stopping smoking (not "quitting," "stopping" she can live with). Normally, when there's a piece here with only one byline, it goes higher up. Dona asked (demanded) that this go low and would have preferred it go before "Highlights."

Ralph finally gets some network news attention -- Transcript of Ralph's interview.

The speech Barack wouldn't give -- Palin's speech about women's progress.

Highlights -- Mike, Kat, Betty, Ruth, Rebecca, Marcia, Wally, Cedric and Elaine wrote this and picked out the highlights unless otherwise noted. We thank them for this.

And that's the edition. Dona's article is a must-read. Can't say anymore because when I type more than that she tells me to pull the sentences out. So let me just say read her article.

See you next week.

-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and C.I.

Editorial: Ehren Watada matters and so do the facts

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.
US District Judge Benjamin Settle says a second court-martial would violate Watada's right against double-jeopardy.
His first court-martial ended in a mistrial. He had faced up to six years in prison.

So lied Amy Goodman Thursday during "Headlines" for Pravda On The Hudson. The Thursday snapshot called her out and -- no surprise -- Friday's show didn't find Goody Liar issuing a correction.

Catching Goody's 'news' was catching misinformation. Justice Benjamin Settle did not bar a second court-martial nor did he declare that Ehren Watada couldn't be retried. Hearing Goody's Back Channels Update, you'd think Ehren was finally free.

That's not reality.

Lt. Ehren Watada

June 22, 2006 Lt Watada became the first officer to refuse to deploy to the Iraq War. August 2006 was when the Article 32 hearing was held to decide whether or not to move forward with a court-martial. Six months later, February 2007, a court-martial began but Judget Toilet (John Head), ignoring objections from the defense team, ruled a mistrial.

Though Head was announcing that a second court-martial would take place in March 2007, that never happened. Double-jeopardy is forbidden by the Constitution. Meaning if the prosecution can't get their act together in the first place, they're not allowed multiple chances. November 2007 was when federal Judge Benjamin Settle ruled in Watada's favor stating that the double-jeopardy issues needed to be resolved.

That's your backstory. Here's news -- real news as opposed to Amy Goodman's 'news.'

Goody Liar says Ehren's in the clear. Journalist Hal Bernton, reporting for The Seattle Times on Wednesday, revealed that Settle ruled, "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."

Ruh-ro, Shaggy! Zoinks, Velma! It would appear Goody Liar has been caught spreading propaganda again. But let's not single source.

The Honolulu Advertiser added, "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." William Cole (Honolulu Advertiser) spoke with one of Ehren's civilian attorneys, Jim Lobsenz, who explained, "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." KGMB9 News reported that "[u]ntil the final two charges are cleared up, Watada is on desk duty at Ft. Lewis in Washington."

So we've got one of the civilian attorneys on record and, guess what, Goody is WRONG. Both linked to articles at The Honolulu Advertiser contain a quote from Ehren's parents Bob Wataada (first link) and Carolyn Ho (second link) and, like the reports, the parents are aware that Settle ruled on only three of the five charges.

Those are the facts and Amy Goodman's LYING is as offensive as The Honolulu Star Bulletin's editorial (which doesn't appear to grasp what Settle ruled on but is determined to sneer at Watada).

Thursday morning Amy Goodman got it wrong. Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot" already covered the basics including that two charges remained so there's no reason self-anointed 'journalist' Goodman didn't get it right.

It matters. Her audience may be shrinking but she still has some sort of an audience and if they counted on her for the news, they're under the impression that Ehren's no longer a concern for them, that he's free and it's case closed. That is not reality and Bob Watada has especially noted how much money the Pentagon has and how they may continue the fight in an attempt to crush dissent.

Bob and Ehren Watada

Jesse Hagopian (Socialist Worker) ended his own update (which got the facts correct) with this statement, "Antiwar activists are committed to making sure that Watada not only doesn't see a day behind bars, but is celebrated as a hero for his courage to resist the war on Iraq." But it's difficult for that goal to be achieved when an allegedly trusted 'voice' is bound and determined to wrongly broadcast that a judge has declared Watada can't be court-martialed again. That is not what Settle said and Goody's fact-free approach doesn't just misinform, it hurts.

Thank You, Lt. Watada currently displays the following at the top of the home page:

Judge Rules 3 Charges Unconstitutional, and Legal Limbo Continues
No New Court Martial!

Dismiss All Charges!

Release Lt. Watada with an Honorable Discharge!

Those goals become all the harder to mobilize on when Amy Goodman's announcing (wrongly) to the world, "End of story, nothing to see here, move along." It is journalistic malpractice for Goody to offer a disinformation campaign that wrongly tells people Ehren's case is resolved.

TV: Disturbing Behavior

And what a week it was. With only two full weeks to go before the US presidential election, it seemed every program was attempting to demonstrate how strong or weak, how informative or pathetic it could be.

"A little dash of high school bitchy," self-described Tina Fey in Thursday's "Saturday Night Live" and goodness if everyone wasn't trying to make like the hawk-nosed Fey last week. It resulted in very disturbing viewing experiences.

But let's start with the good. NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. The year could have come and gone without us ever having said a kind or positive word for this program so their decision to air a report by NBC's Ron Allen Monday on independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader was, without a doubt, the strongest moment last week. It was news, it was informative and it showed a stronger belief in both journalism and democracy than most news consumers have seen all year. Applause for Ron Allen and, yes, for Brian Williams who has editorial control of his broadcast. We honestly though NOW on PBS would be the first to air an interview with Nader and, hearing about the results of those random surveys CBS News does -- the ones that keep coming back in large numbers with "more coverage of third party candidates" -- we figured if anyone beat NOW on PBS, it would be The CBS Evening News. Instead, Williams and company left them both in the dust.

From the good to the bad and the list is oh-so long. Sticking with news programs we turn to The NewsHour (PBS) and, as with most news broadcasts we catch, a friend told us we had to make a point to tune in. We doubt they'll recommend anything to us in the near future. Or maybe we hope that.

It was Tuesday and the segment we were "going to love!!!!" was Gasbag Gwen Ifill chewing the fat with three guests on the topic of racism. It was so awful it made Gwen's usual gig as our modern day Virginia Graham on Washington Week seem serviceable. Her guest gasbags were "Michael Fauntroy, professor of public policy at George Mason University and author of the book 'Republicans and the Black Vote'; Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press; and Eddie Glaude, Jr., a professor of religion and African-American studies at Princeton." Kohut is White while Fauntroy and Glaude are African-American which is certainly in keeping with PBS' strong desire these days to reduce race down solely to Black and White. Take that, Reading Rainbow!

And if, from the credits, you immediately picked Glaude as the loser, you were not mistaken. African-American studies really doesn't automatically lend itself to political science. Nor does Women's Studies. That's not a slam on either discipline, it's just noting that a lot of people these days are unqualified to discuss the topic they are supposed to be experts on. Glaude flaunted his ignorance early on:

We have a younger voting population, the so-called millennial generation and Generation Y, that group between 18 and 29, who have a different kind of experience. These are folk who have come of age post the cultural wars, come of age post the kinds of issues that defined the '60s and '70s.

Uh, Glaude, you use buzz terms, you just appear not to grasp them. Generation X, for example, came "of age post the kinds of issues that defined the '60s and '70s." We'd assume Glaude would know that were he a professor of poli sci, sociology or public policy/administration. He's not and we weren't surprised by his ignorance.

What Glaude lacked factually he somewhat made up for with enthusiasm. He was not the worst of the three. The worst is the man who puts the P-E-W in PEW, Andrew Kohut. Kohut wanted to gasbag about whatever crossed his mind and since Gwen so rarely listens to anyone's response (she merely counts to herself while waiting for the chance to ask her next question), she didn't notice what went down.

In the midst of responding to one of Gwen's free association statements that never quite resemble an actual question, Kohut declared, "I'll give you an example of this. In 1987, for the first time, I asked a question about, 'How do you feel about interracial dating?' Fifty-five percent of the white people that we questioned said they disapproved. That number has slowly come down every year. It's only at 14 percent."

Gwen identified Barack as "African-American" throughout and no one ever brought up the terms "mixed race" or "biracial" (which, for the record, Barack is). So what was the point of that offering from Kohut? What does a 1987 attitude towards interracial dating have to do with voting for an "African-American" candidate? Again, were the gasbags honest about Barack, the studies might have some bearing but not as presented and, as presented, it seemed to imply a belief that African-American opinion does not matter. Kohut never told us the number of African-Americans who supported interracial dating then or now and Gwen and the other two guests never thought to ask.

For the record, in 1987, 74% of African-Americans told PEW they found interracial dating "acceptable." In 2007 (the most recent study released by PEW on this issue), the number rose to 97%. For Whites -- as defined by PEW which apparently only asked this question of those they could label either "Black" or "White" -- the numbers went from 44% said it was "acceptable in 1987 to 81% said it was in 2007.

As the segment frequently fell apart, we found ourselves wishing Michael Fauntroy had been paired up with better guests and another moderator or at least Gwen with her C-game. We also found ourselves realizing that Rachel Maddow's temporary TV success (she has Ashleigh Banfield On Location written all over her) was actually a blessing for Gwen -- Maddow makes Gwen appear highly intelligent. That was driven home most recently when Maddow decided to gasbag over Governor Sarah Palin repeating that "Joe the Plumber" stated Barack's "spread the wealth around" program sounded like "Socialism." In Maddow Land, it became Palin made the judgment call, not Joe the Plumber; however, Maddow wasn't done yet. She went on to equate Socialism and Communism as the same thing and demonstrate just how ignorant she was of the two political ideologies. It was almost as if Maddow was making like Angela Lansbury to serenade Gwen. Nothing's going to harm you, not while I'm around . . .

Amy Poehler wasn't around Saturday night, she was in labor. (A baby boy, named Archie.) So she missed out on the SNL broadcast, lucky, lucky her. The talented Maya Rudolph was brought on for two skits and they both added up to so little that we really hope Maya's done with Saturday Night Live.

The first skit, which we were told (lied to) yet again was going to be hilarious and that finally created an inner-life for Barack, was Maya and Fred doing Michelle and Barack. That sounds interesting . . . unless you watched. There was no inner life. There wasn't even a character for Maya, let alone new lines. It was Maya doing the Peaches & Herb/Ashford & Simpson sketch yet again. This time they took Nick and Val's "Solid" and turned it into a pro-Barack song: "SOLID . . . as Barack . . ." It was so nothing, such complete nothing. Barack in the White House should be scaring the hell out of Lorne because his gang of writers still can't create interactions for Barack.

Maya's second skit also involved her singing. On Weekend Update. "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." Yes, Maya's mother was the incredibly talented Minnie Riperton. No, Maya herself is not a singer. She is a very talented actress but no one could tell that from last night's broadcast. If they were paying attention, they might have grasped the point we've made since SNL debuted this fall: Too few women. Maya has to be brought on to have a Michelle character (who does nothing). And with Amy in labor, women really didn't do a great deal. In fact, Maya singing at the end of Weekend Update was the only time a woman was present despite the multiple number of male cast members who sat next to Seth playing various characters (including a telephone).

Seth showed just how awful he and Barack's real supporters are. They're centrists, they're not leftists. That's Barack's core support. Seth proved it with his little 'joke' about the economy which included him editorializing on where the blame went for the financial crisis. If you missed it, try to guess who was blamed first by Neo-Lib Seth? The banks? No. The home owners taking out loans -- loans, Seth explained, they couldn't afford.

Seth spewed a lot of hate at McCain and a lot of love at Barack so it was your typical night of the week for Seth -- alone and jerking off. Sadly, SNL decided to broadcast it. But not content to rip apart McCain for Barack, Weekend Update also included a skit about Ralph Nader.

We're going to be extremely kind and not name the actor who 'played' Nader. He didn't speak like Nader and he certainly didn't look like Nader (that ugly wig did make him look like Bob Barker; however). When a skit features "Ralph" but the actor makes no effort to sound or look like him, you might hope they'd at least build the laughs around actual facts and events.

That's too much hope. Seth lives to pick at his crack (the last skit was an inside SNL joke -- ha, ha) and he lives to destroy anyone who is not Barack. So it didn't matter, for example, that Ralph Nader has raised more money in his 2008 run than in any previous run. It doesn't matter that, outside of self-funders like H. Ross Perot, Nader's probably going to end 2008 with the strongest fundraising for any candidate not belonging to the two-party duopoly. "You know how much I raised?" asked fictional SNL Ralph. "Nothing."

And it only got worse. Seth asked "Ralph," "Who is your running mate?" Ralph responded, "Manuel." We didn't find that funny, we found it racist and that was before Manuel was 'brought out' as a sock puppet. (Nader's running mate is Latino Matt Gonzalez. Considering SNL's shit-poor record in casting Latinos or in allowing them to host, the program really can't afford to do anything that could come off as anti-Latino.)

As usual, the highpoints came from Andy and Kristin. On Kristin, we missed a character she did early last year (several times). She's one half of the A-Holes and when a friend with SNL (not Kristin, we don't know her, we've never spoken to her) mailed a disc with a series of skits last week including the A-Holes (Nativity Scene, Eye Witnesses to a Crime, Shop for a Christmas Tree), we should have known there was a point. The A-Holes are actually funny. Sadly, they're not really A-Holes, more like self-obsessed, shallow people. But they are funny. We'll join the group crying for more A-Holes -- the funny characters, not Seth and Tina.

Were we like Tina, "a little dash of high school bitchy" (a little? don't be so modest, Tina), we'd share the wonderful tales from 30 Rock about the problems Fey's thickening waist has created for wardrobe and how ticked off (at others) Fey's become as a result. We'd even repeat a hilarious story a name guest star from this season told us. Instead, we'll just note that if, like many watching SNL Thursday night, you felt Tina's heart really wasn't in it, you are correct. She wrongly thought her Sarah Palin impersonation was making her a star. The SNL episode Palin guest starred on brought in more viewers than any episode since Madonna hosted all those years ago when the world actually cared about her. The ratings had Tina despondent and wondering who cared about her?

Was it all just the popularity of Palin and did none of it have to do with Tina? That's the question she's been hinting around at and, bad news, it's a question NBC suits are wondering (try fearing) as well. They'll be watching the ratings very closely and a little bump might have been good news for 30 Rock in its second season but this year's being heavily promoted on guest-star power. The real sign of how dire things are came from one of Tina's co-workers who called us with the tale of Tina stating last week, "Well at least I'm funny." (We also heard it from another co-worker as, "Well at least I'm still funny.") It was all so very sad and, as soon as we finally stopped laughing, we explained why. As Susan Sontag once wrote ("The Wisdom Project"), "To describe oneself as young is to face that one is no longer young." We'd argue the same goes for "funny."

We'd further argue that she proved Sontag's point in the skit with Will Ferrell -- the only skit she did on Thursday's broadcast -- where she couldn't maintain her Palin 'accent' for the full sketch, couldn't maintain the energy level, often seemed to focus on the camera and forget a live audience was present (such as when she twice completely stepped out of character during wide shots) and her timing never seemed quite right. Though it didn't make for good entertainment, it was probably right behind Nightly News' Nader report for most informative TV moment last week.

Campaign Roundup (Ava and C.I.)

Last week, Governor Sarah Palin came under fire both for her clothing and for her taking her children with her when she travels. Some will argue that it's the issue of the money. It wasn't about money when Kimba Woods and Zoe Baird's nominations were derailed, it was about the fact that women bring different experiences to the table and that a lot of men and women have a great deal of difficulty dealing with the fact that the 'norm' is not, in fact, the norm. It's an artificially concocted standard that is neither universal nor even reflective of the majority of people.

Governor Palin and National Guard

In all the gas baggery since the vice presidential debate, we waited for someone to note the first aired sentence from Palin after the debate ended.

Did anyone?

"Where are the kids?"

That's what she asked her husband Todd when he walked up to her onstage. A typical mom question. She'd done her job, she'd conducted herself well in the debate. The debate's over, look here comes hubby, hey, where are my children?

We're fully aware that a lot of liars would scream, "Props! Mere props!" And that false accusation is why we refrained from noting her remark until now. But when Jim (obviously reading too much Newsweek) insists we need an article that covers the various campaigns, we reach for all the scraps we've been holding.

Last week, Palin gave two major speeches. The first was on the progress women have made. (Click here for it in this edition.) The second was on special-needs children. That speech opened with, "Too often, even in our own day, children with special needs have been set apart and excluded." And there's no denying we've seen a very strong desire to exclude the Palins' youngest child, Trig.

Governor Palin and Trig
No, the Palins have not attempted to exclude him, but many on the left and 'left' have. They've made rude comments and then tried to insist that it had nothing to do with Trig being a child with Down Syndrome. They seem annoyed when you point out that they never would have made such remarks about a child considered 'normal' or 'average.' Most of all they seem ticked off that their bitchy attempts at South Park humor didn't have you rolling in the aisle.

Then there were the 'reporters' and 'journalists' so in need of exploring Palin to illuminate life and the human condition. Or that's the lie they hid behind. Take Kellia Ramares (KPFA) who just had to 'weigh in' on Palin's oldest daughter, Bristol: "And teen pregnancy is something the government needs to address. . . . The issue of teen pregnancy is too important NOT to address on the grounds that candidates' children are a 'no-go' zone. Bristol Palin may have accidentally rendered a service to all those pregnant teens who don't have supportive parents and who can't or shouldn't marry the father of the baby." It all sounds so lofty (if you use the link, prepare to laugh when Kellia claims the issue can be addressed without naming Bristol . . . right before she again names Bristol). Kellia wrote that crap September 4th, for the Pacifica election blog. And if she or Pacifica would like to disagree with us that it is 100% crap, we'd reply, "What of Trig?"

What about Trig? Teenage pregnancy "is too important NOT to address . . ." Get a life Kellia, the bulk of humanity would never have been born were it not for teenage pregnancies. It's not a crisis. Pregnancy itself is not a problem. There are those who attempt to treat it like an illness but, like Carol Tavris, we've always rejected that 'diagnosis.' (Tavris' The Mismeasure of Women, p. 118: "But if pregnancy occurs with so may variations, why not regard it as something comprable to illness and disability, which affect both sexes and which also occur in degrees of seriousness and incapacity? For many, the answer is that once again, it is the male norm that construes pregnancy as a disability rather than, say, as an addition ability.") Surrounding conditions are the issues -- health care, access to information on birth control and abortion, access to birth control and abortion, an equal wage, et al. Bristol Palin was made a Poster Girl because some just care SO DAMN MUCH. Or that's what they wanted you to think.

Down Syndrome and special-needs children actually are "too important NOT to address" but Kellia never felt the need to bring Trig in to highlight an issue. And are we surprised? No, but then we are fully aware of Pacifica's appalling record on disability rights and there lack of interest.

(Quick name the Pacifica radio shows whose focus is disability rights! Need some help? Okay, name the 'one' show. And, no, the one show isn't even a weekly show. For those who attempt to cheat by visiting the Pacifica Radio site, please note Houston's Pacifica no longer airs Access This! despite the Pacifica website claiming it does. If you put two together you get one month's worth of programming. WBAI airs a Pacifica program for the disabled and they air it . . . one week out of each month. What a service for the disabled community Pacifica provides -- yes, that is sarcasm. For those too lazy to research, The Largest Minority is the program. Three Fridays a month, KPFA airs Pushing Limits so combine the two and you have one weekly program if you stream both online.)

While Pacifica doesn't give a damn about the disabled, we should note, in fairness, that some may not know that Trig has Down Syndrome. For example, if they get their information from Democracy Now!, they no doubt believe Trig is serving in Iraq since the 'expert' Amy Goodman brought on to trash Sarah Palin didn't even know that Track Palin is the son in Iraq and that Trig is the newborn. But those truly concerned about issues in need of highlighting would have picked up special-needs long ago. The tongue wagging gossips, of course, latched onto Bristol.

So that's the news re: McCain's running mate Palin.

Staying with the women, we'll move immediately to Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party presidential candidate (Rosa Clemente is her running mate). Cynthia was on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. We didn't listen. We caught the attack attempting to pass for an interview that the boys of Talk of the Nation inflicted mid-week and were accused by two friends at NPR of trying to 'work the refs' in Cynthia's favor by objecting. No, it was a really bad broadcast and to introduce an element into the mix that we haven't previously, consider Daniel's phone call or, rather, consider all the phone calls to the show and how only Daniel was allowed on air.


Why was that? Daniel, in his pre-screen, had presented as someone unable to vote for Cynthia and that's a position Neil thought could be a real gas, a real ha-ha. So Daniel was let on the air. Those wanting to ask Cynthia questions, the many calling in for that? They were ignored. A call-in show ignoring callers? Well of course . . . when Ken and Neil want to reduce a guest to a joke. If you know even a little about Cynthia, you know she's no joke and will never be reduced to one. So, on her end, she made the interview worth listening to. Working the refs was the accusation made toward us -- indicating that the two hadn't listened to the broadcast because in no way did what Ken and Neil do on air meet any criteria for NPR.

Cynthia had to correct Neil on her campaign trips. Neil did not like that. If Neil doesn't like being corrected on air, he might try getting his facts down before the live broadcast begins airing. Neil and Ken's behavior proved all of Cynthia's criticisms and never more so than when Cynthia was pointing out the silence on the issue of the death penalty from both of the two major party campaigns. Instead of rushing to explore that topic, Neil and Ken immediately changed the subject, thereby reminding the audience that Barack Obama and John McCain could not get away with their refusal to address the issue (both McCain and Obama support the death penalty) were it not for a press so willing to ignore it.

Today and tomorrow, Cynthia has campaign events in Washington:

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.

Which brings us to independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader who has Matt Gonzalez as his running mate. Yesterday Ralph was trying for a world record: Most speeches in a 24-hour time period.
Ralph Nader Marathon

Early this morning (midnight), they announced Ralph had made the world record. 15 speeches were required (each at least 10 minutes long) and -- no surprise for the campaign whose motto should be "Surpasses All Expectations" -- they made the work with 21 speeches. Always going the extra mile, Ralph Nader. Team Nader notes, "In the coming days, the Nader/Gonzalez campaign will submit all the paperwork, photography and video footage to Guinness World Records to be evaluated and decided upon. For more information and to see a full itinerary, please visit".

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams aired a report Monday on Ralph and, for the report, Ron Allen interviewed him. At the program's website the interview is being offered as a web extra and we think Ralph's comments on why he is running and on what "makes this worth it" bear noting:

Ralph Nader: You have to keep justice on the front burner. The forces of injustice never take a vacation and the forces of justice can never take a vacation. So as long as I can go around the country putting the progressive agenda on the front table for people, giving voters a choice, I feel I have to do it. [. . .] There are a lot of different definitions of winning. One of them is building for a future third political force that can really win an election. The second is bringing lots of people into local, state and national elections as candidates -- especially young people in the future. The third is to push the two parties -- a tugboat candidacy to either make them less worse or a little better which is a historic function of third parties. [. . .] Well we're turning a corner on the violations of candidates' civil liberties by winning cases to break down the ballot access barriers in many states that deny voters a choice. These are Jim Crow type laws to keep candidates off the ballot and without candidate rights, voter rights aren't worth as much because voters won't have a choice. That's a clear trend that we are advancing. Number two, we keep alive a future progressive enlightenment in our country. All of the things that are so overdue that the American people need and deserve and are being denied because of the concentration of power and wealth in so few hands. Number three and the most gratifying for me is the young people who are volunteering, who are going to be the political leaders of the future, who are learning the skills of clean political activity.

Voters in 49 states and DC can vote for Ralph. He is on the ballot in 45 states allowed as a write-in on four more. The only state where supporters are not allowed to vote for him is Oklahoma.

The last few weeks saw Ralph finally get something resembling the sort of press attention he should have been receiving all along so naturally it was time for the worthless Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) to show up with one of their increasingly worthless 'media advisories'. This one wanted to bemoan the shutting out of third and independent presidential candidates. And there's something truly pathetic about FAIR waiting until AFTER the debates are over to bring up the issue. But FAIR's been pathetic for some time and in the tank for Barack. Which is why the finger-pointing FAIR can't add, "By way of contrast, our own program CounterSpin regularly included Ralph, Cynthia and other candidates as guests and topics."

What they can do is that weak whining they've become so good at. They open with, "While the major-party race for the White House has been the subject of broad media attention for more than a year, the corporate media have mostly ignored at least four substantial third-party and independent candidates for the presidency." Then it gets really confusing and, note, we are using their updated "Media Advisory." If we wanted to be really cruel, we'd use the version they sent out on the 21st and not the one they 'fixed' online two days later.

"The main question media tend to pose about third-party candidates is whether or not they will impact the outcome of the election." said FAIR echoing our own criticism (offered when it damn well mattered and, yeah, we called out FAIR along with all the rest). They go on to lament how issues aren't discussed or aren't discussed in full and yet they then offer, "Democracy Now! (10/16/08) allowed Nader and McKinney an opportunity to respond to the debate questions posed to Obama and McCain-- a rare opportunity for such candidates to let voters hear them alongside major-party nominees." What? Uh, first off, why isn't a "rare opportunity for major-party candidates" instead of the other way around? Second, what issue is supposed to be the 'magic' one this year?

Hint: Barack thought he could get away with utilizing sexism because this issue would keep women sticking to him. Hint: Women are currently the most sought after voters.


And what issue did Amy Goodman avoid in the 'debate' FAIR's praising? Now Bob Schieffer moderated the last debate between McCain and Obama -- which Goody used for clips and questions -- and Schieffer did ask about abortion.

Goody didn't. And if there's one issue that's important (because it's being used as a club) and one issue Cynthia could clearly point to being the strongest -- of any candidate -- on, it was abortion. Cynthia never voted 'present' when in the Georgia legislature or while serving those many years in the US Congress. She not only has a record, an actual record, she's also never shied from addressing the topic.

So before FAIR praised Pravda on the Hudson, they might have tried 'analyzing' what was on display. Repeating, no one in the race is stronger on abortion rights than Cynthia. So isn't it strange that when picking out questions from Schieffer's debate, Goody can waste everyone's time by asking Cynthia and Ralph what they think of the remarks Obama and McCain have made about each other but she can't address abortion?

Again, it is Cynthia's strongest position and it is the position that could drive plenty of votes to her. It is also the issue Barack's attempting to club women with, threatening only he can 'save' us. But he has no record on abortion when it comes to voting. And he has a lot of pathetic statements that make him sound like Randell Terry's less well spoken sibling.

FAIR never used its own program CounterSpin to promote the independent and third-party candidates (but made sure to cover Barack non-stop and to lie about McCain non-stop). FAIR never called for the debates to be open and, in fact, FAIR never gave a damn about calling out the news coverage until it was too late to make any sort of difference.

The real story of the 2008 campaign remains the hucksters of Panhandle Media and how they gamed it for Barack early on.


Jim: This is a mini-roundtable and the topic is religion. Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jess, Ava and me, Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Ruth of Ruth's Report, Wally of The Daily Jot, and Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ. We've addressed religion in other roundtables before but in the last six months, we've really felt that an article needed to be written on the topic for a number of reasons. Instead of doing it that way, we're doing it in round-table form so that everyone who has an issue they want raised gets it noted. Not everyone participating is religious. I had made it through three years without noting that I was until the issue of my using God in --


Betty: Swearing.

Jim: Thank you, in swearing, came up and offended some people who assumed (a) he doesn't believe so (b) when he says "Oh my God" or whatever it is doubly insulting. C.I. does not generally talk about religion so we're all interested to see how that aspect of the roundtable will go. Betty's already leapt in and she's one of the people who's been strongly advocating for months now that we address this topic. Therefore, let me toss to her.

Betty: I am religious. I was raised in the Black church and I remain in the Black church. I found a lot of the sop tossed out by 'progressives' following the 2004 election insulting but, these days, I find even more of the actions of the 'progressives' offensive. That's the main reason I've been advocating for some sort of feature on this topic. I think C.I.'s coverage of the Iraqi Christians was very revealing. Look at the weeks and weeks of that coverage and notice how many of the sources are either international or religious. Meaning, the topic is being ignored in the US by non-religious based outlets. That's shameful and it goes to a discomfort that I think we need to address.

Jess: Let me add that The Los Angeles Times became the first major US daily paper to editorialize on the crisis for Iraqi Christians currently in Mosul in surrounding areas. I'm not sure how much I will or will not contribute here so that may be it for me.

Jim: Okay, I'm not going to be outing anyone during this roundtable. We do, however, have three participating who are known to be Catholics: Kat, Mike and Ava and they might want to weigh in on this topic since a great deal of the coverage has come from Catholic outlets and the Vatican. They might not but I'll put that out there.

Mike: Yeah, early on, when C.I. had started covering it . . . Okay, it was on a Thursday when C.I. started covering it and a Sunday night, four nights later, that C.I. pointed out the silence from The New York Times on the issue and how the Pope had commented publicly in addition to the Church issuing statements. That was weird. That was very weird. The Pope is considering an international figure and generally he makes news with everything he says or does. If you're Catholic, like I am, you follow him a little more closely but the Pope is always news. So the silence -- and The New York Times has done at least one article that's focused on Iraqi Christians in all these weeks -- when even the Pope is speaking out publicly is just really appalling.

Kat: Because of Betty, because of remarks she's made advocating for this topic, as the plight of Iraqi Christians unfolded, I wasn't that surprised to see so little interest from the press; however, like Mike, when I read the Sunday night piece C.I. wrote where C.I.'s pointing out the silence even in the face of the statements coming out of the Vatican, it was -- it just really illustrated points Betty has been making about how certain groups aren't worthy of concern to our press -- big and small.

Jim: Ava's waving her hand -- she and C.I. are taking notes -- so I'm going to go back to Betty. Betty, I know you've made a lot of points advocating for this story, but the issue Kat just raised "about how certain groups aren't worthy" is probably a good place for you to start.

Betty: Actually Jim, I think the place to start is with my race. I really think, and I know Marcia agrees with me, that another point needs to be established first.

Jim: Sure.

Betty: I want to talk about the anger and scorn directed at Christians from 'independent' media. But before we can get to that, I really think we need to go into which Christians because it's not the Black Church being scorned in 2008. Marcia?

Marcia: Absolutely not. The ones doing the scorning are largely White 'progressives' and they think they're 'funny' and 'cute' but they don't direct that same hatred at African-American churches. Jeremiah Wright damns the United States and these losers fall over themselves to excuse it, these White losers. They think that's how my race is, that we're all Jeremiah Wright making crackpot statements about how AIDS was a government plot and gay sex is the same as murder and all the rest of his nutty comments.

Cedric: Exactly. It's very insulting and it's been very amusing for me to watch how these White Honkeys who've built up the legend of Jeremiah have avoided the issue that he's now being sued for firing his mistress. Yes, Wright who got wife number two when she and her then-husband showed up for marital counseling done got caught cheating again. But there's some sort of desire on the part of the Honkey set -- I'm referring to a specific sort of White person -- to romanticize and mytholigize African-Americans so we're given a pass.

Ty: Even when studies show that if same-sex marriage is defeated at the ballot box here -- California -- a finger can be wagged at the African-American community which opposes same-sex marriage in this state in a greater percentage than any other community.

Marcia: Exactly. And that's what's so damn irritating about what Cedric's talking about, this attempt by the Honkeys to act like every Black church is the same and they're all wonderful and beyond criticism. I should probably define "Honkey" as we're using it.

Cedric: First though, a Honkey was originally a White person who had an African-American working for them and the White person would show up to pick them up and honk -- hence the term "Honkey."

Marcia: Right. Okay, as we're using the term, and we don't mean it as a compliment, these are White "helpers" who are doing serious damage to the African-American community with their 'help.' They're 'progressives' which really means that we're mainly talking about Communists and Socialists.

Betty: And their hands off approach when it comes to criticism of Black churches is in start contrast to the way they treat White churches or churchgoers. I mean, let's just grab the homophobia issue, 'independent' media refuses to call out Black churches for homophobia. In fact, they will broadcast the homophobia of Bernice King and not even call it out, not even point it out. Honkeys like Amy Goodman will demonstrate how White they are and how much they wish they were Black by lapping that crap up when they should be calling out and when they would be calling it out if it were a White person saying it. And on this issue in particular, I've long noted that my own church has been very active fighting homophobia and how that is not true of all the churches in my area -- Atlanta -- but the work we do is undercut and destroyed by these Honkeys like Amy Goodman who refuse to call out homophobia unless it comes from a White person.

Jim: Okay, let's move on -- and this may still be with Betty because she has a number of examples of the intolerance towards religion -- to the issue of the way 'independent' media treats White church goers.

Rebecca: Jim, let me jump in. I think Marcia's "Shannon Joyce Prince on Tim Wise" is a good starting point because it's actually a transition between the two communities.

Marcia: That's true. I hadn't thought about it, but it's correct. Shannon Joyce Prince had a wonderful essay at Black Agenda Report entitled "Word to the Wise (Tim Wise, that is)" and I wrote about it -- community members Martha and Kendrick e-mailed me about it -- because it more nicely covered a topic I've been repeatedly addressing at my site. Shannon, an African-American Christian, doesn't find White Tim Wise's little jabs at Christianity funny even though they're mainly aimed at White Christians. Shannon was very brave to write that piece and I'm glad Rebecca remembered it because I would've forgotten it. But there's a screen now -- for those of us who are African-American and go to church --

Cedric: And not all of us go to church.

Marcia: No, we do not all go to church. I think all participating in this roundtable, all African-Americans participating do, in fact, I know we do, but in society at large, not all do. But those who do see these Honkeys like Tim Wise rip apart White Christians repeatedly and it only underscores to us how there is a double standard and either Honkeys are afraid to call out anything to do with the African-American community or they're hoping to trick us into believing they're with us when they really aren't. Like the 30s Communist recruitment drives all over again!

Ty: Let me just read in some of Tim Wise's garbage. He's writing about how he thinks -- though 'thinks' may be too strong for what Wise has done -- fascism will come to the US:

this is how it will happen: not with tanks and jackbooted storm troopers, but carried in the hearts of men and women dressed in comfortable shoes, with baseball caps, and What Would Jesus Do? wristbands. It will be heralded by up-dos, designer glasses, you-betcha folksiness and a disdain for big words or hard consonants.

[. . .]

If fascism comes it will come from faux populism, from anti-immigrant hysteria, from persons who have more guns in their homes than books, or whose books, when they have them, are principally volumes of the Left Behind series, several different copies of the Bible, and a plethora of romance novels.

Ty (Con't): I think Timmy Wise is confusing fascism with his own personal dislikes. And, for the record, if he visited my grandmother's house, he'd find at least twenty copies of Bibles and a whole lot more romance novels. And, yeah, he's trying to slime White Christians, but my grandmother reads Marcia's site and she read about Shannon Joyce Prince's essay and went and read Tim Wise's garbage. She didn't say, "Ty, I'm offended he'd talk about White Christians like that," she said she was offended he'd talk about Christians that way. If I haven't noted it already this roundtable, I'm African-American. So my grandmother is among those in the African-American community that sees this sort of garbage aimed at White Christians as an attack on all Christians and she especially notices how Amy Goodman plays that game. In fact, she stopped listening to Goodman last month -- for good -- as a result of that attitude. It doesn't make any difference to my grandmother that Amy shines it on for African-American Christians and only spits on White Christians because my grandmother, a Christian, believes that the Lord doesn't welcome us into heaven based on skin color but based on whether or not we're Christians. Therefore an attack on any Christian is an attack on all Christians.

Elaine: You're making some important points but I have to scream, "Hold on!" Tim Wise is so filled with hate that he's decided he can get away with lying and we need to call that out. His crap is entitled "THIS IS HOW FASCISM COMES: REFLECTIONS ON THE COST OF SILENCE." He has done just what he accuses the other side of doing and he's a dumb liar. I don't have time for people like Tim Wise. Here's his opening sentence: "For those who have seen the ugliness and heard the vitriol emanating from the mouths of persons attending McCain/Palin rallies this past week--what with their demands to kill Barack Obama, slurs that he is a terrorist and a traitor, and paranoid delusions about his crypto-Muslim designs on America--please know this: This is how fascism comes to an ostensible democracy." Ava and C.I. tackled the lie regarding "Kill him!" supposedly yelled and even Newsweek has called that lie out. But there's the idiot Tim Wise repeating it because he's so consumed with hate for people who are different than him that he doesn't feel it's required to get his facts right.

Wally: Any lie is justified.

Elaine: Exactly. And then he wants to claim he's got some sort of moral superiority when in fact his entire column can be seen as outlining the facist state he wants -- first step demonize all who don't believe as he does.

Betty: Tim Wise can be heard on various Pacifica outlets and he only proves Marcia's point about the Honkeys who try to insist that all Whites except for them are racists are Honkeys we in the Black community know not to trust. Someone who has to tar and feather an entire race has to do so for a reason and I suspect Tim Wise has a lot of racism in him -- I'm not talking towards his own race, I mean towards Black people. I hear it when he tries to 'Black.' And of course he's married to Hustle & Flow Michael Eric Dyson who knows how to be Black better than anyone . . . if that's judged by whether or not a Black person marries a White one. I love it when Dyson tries to pull his more-authentic-than-thou crap. And I'm off topic, I know but Ty told me last Tuesday a reader had written in wanting that point made. I'm happy to toss it out there.

Rebecca: If you think about some of the stuff that's been coming out, I mean Robin Morgan has never had a kind word to say about religion but that crap, that anti-feminist screed against Sarah Palin, went beyond Morgan's usual intolerance and, if you missed it, she tied religion in with women having 'litters.' I found that insulting to Christians, to women and to mothers. And I think it really says a lot about hatred -- including of ones own gender -- when you're trying to write a 'helpful' and 'uplifiting' column and you're referring to women who reproduce as having 'litters.' I may have been the only one who was offended by that --

Betty: I know what you're talking about now but I didn't notice it on my own. I'd say it was offensive. And Morgan's only one example. What about Socialist Barbie Barbara Ehrenreich? I'm sick of them. I'm sick of them controlling the conversation, I'm sick of their intolerance. I have never attempted to turn anyone into a Christian. I have never -- and am not now -- insulted people for not believing in a God. So it's really not fair to the discourse that these Honkeys -- who will not call out the Black churches -- are allowed to demonize White Christians. That's Morgan, that's Socialist Barbie, that's Esther Kaplan and all the rest.

Wally: I think we're seeing, behind the intolerance, an attitude of "I'm so much smarter because I don't believe." I mean, that's Matthew Rothschild's MO whenever he wants to slam someone. And so it's not like -- Betty's point -- they can be fair or equal because they don't just believe they are right in their disbelief, they believe you must disbelieve with them and, until you do, they will inflict their poor attempts at jokes upon the country. By the way, Ruth should speak.

Jim: Absolutely. Ruth?

Ruth: As the resident Jew, I am laughing, I am not really sure what to say. See, for me, a great deal of this aminosity is not merely coming from non-believers in Christianity. It is also come from Jewish people -- some of whom practice the Jewish faith and some of whom are ethnically Jewish but do not believe in God. So for me, there is that aspect which really turns the conversation into another avenue.

Betty: That is interesting and I wish we'd talked about this together because that's something worth pursuing. As I understand it, you're saying that an added factor is the Jewish issue and for non-practicing Jews -- or non-believing Jews -- that's factored in?

Ruth: In the aminosity, absolutely. "Independent" media tends to attract the 'radical' which includes a number of Socialists and Communists and the latter group, of course, does not believe in God. The latter group has always had a strangle-hold on a certain type of NYC Jew. And there is real derision aimed at Christians. I am going larger here but just to finish my points, "Goyum." That is something I and other Jews will say dismissively but not meaning any harm. And there are many sayings and attitudes on the part of Jews towards Christians that acknowledge our differences and make light of them. But what I am seeing from people who are ethnically Jewish these days on the 'left' goes beyond Jewish humor and is outright hatred. It is intolerance -- that words been used in this discussion and I agree that is the term for it -- and it is hatred and it, honestly, frightens me.

Mike: Because.

Ruth: Because of what follows.

Mike: Meaning every action has a reaction?

Ruth: Right. There was a wonderful piece that I will try to highlight this week at my site but I cannot remember the author right now or where I saw it. Maybe Information Clearing House? But it was telling the truth about McCarthyism -- the way Ava and C.I. tell it, not the little lie Victor Navasky and others of my ethnicity spin. But McCarthyism -- a horrible time in history -- did not just come about from one side going on a witch hunt. Actions took place that led to hostilities which then led to a witch hunt.

Mike: So you're saying that what you fear is the intolerance tossed out at White Christians has a backlash that comes back on others?

Ruth: Yes, because we do not live in a vacuum.

Marcia: That is another avenue to pursue. Like Betty, I wish Ruth had been raising this issue when we've pitched this topic before.

Jim: Dona, whose keeping time, just handed me a note that if we're going to stay within our set time limit, we need to start winding down. Jess has stated he'd speak more if he wanted to and I think we've seen a pretty reasonable exchange but I'm going to drag C.I. into this because of an e-mail that comes in repeatedly, most recently from a guy in St. Louis, who wants to know why, when Jeremiah Wright's infamous statement is quoted, "God" is censored?

C.I.: Well that's the word that offended people. Ask Betty. She'll tell you about it.

Betty: Right. My father wasn't just calling Wright out to C.I., he was calling him out to our entire church, my father's a deacon. And how offensive it was for Wright to damn the United States from his position as a pastor and to call on God to do it. I mean, Isaiah did a comic on it and even he censored "God" out with "G**," I believe. But that's what made it offensive from a religious perspective. It was offensive, to damn the US, anyway. But the God aspect was what was offensive.

Jim: As noted at the top, I've said, "Oh my God" and "Good God" in pieces here. And that does offend people. You, C.I., do not do that at The Common Ills and you call me out on how offended people may be when I do it here. You're aware that the guessing game among some readers is attempting to determine whom the non-believers are and that you and Elaine are tied as the top guesses.

C.I.: I haven't commented on my own personal views of a religion or religion in general and I would ideally like to make it through my online life without ever doing so. So if you're hoping for a comment on that, you're not going to get it. The phrases you speak of are phrases that do offend some people. As late as the early seventies, you could not hear them on television. Ruth Warrick is infamous for telling the story about how she added "help me" -- while playing Phoebe Tyler on All My Children -- to some sort of "Oh God" and how, if she hadn't, the scene wouldn't have aired. I have no desire to offend anyone on what they believe or don't believe in terms of faith and certain phrases are just not used at The Common Ills. They may slip through -- and once one of the phrases you quoted did slip through and I apologize do those offended -- but there's really no point in using them. "Good heavens," for example, can be utilized in the same manner and not leave anyone feeling that they've just been insulted. I have no problem insulting people for many reasons -- just to be clear, I'm not going for nicest person online. But I've never felt the need to insult anyone based on their religious beliefs or lack of them. Does that answer the question?

Jim: Yeah. And I'm going to toss to Kat and Wally for closing thoughts because Dona says they were among the ones speaking least.

Kat: Wally's indicating I should go first. Look it, I'm not the biggest Catholic in the world or country. But even so, a lot of the statements about religion lately coming from the 'progressive' choir is flat-out offensive to me. And when we're to the point where you're offending me, it means you've already offended a lot of others. I was raised a Catholic, I go to Midnight Mass at Christmas and that's the only time I step inside the Church. I'm not Super Cath! So if I'm taking offense, you better believe you've crossed a line.

Wally: I think Kat's summed up the point about offense so I want to to sum up in a different manner. First, companion piece to this roundtable should be Mike's "Interview with C.I." Second, this hostility or hatred towards Christianity on the part of some 'progressives' is a problem and if you doubt it you just need to pay attention to how Panhandle Media has refused to explore the very real crisis -- which some call an attempt at 'liquidation' -- going on in Iraq. If that were Muslims being targeted for being Muslim, you know Amy Goodman would devote several entire broadcasts to the issue. But Iraqi Christians? They got one tiny headline. That's it. It's the story no one wants to address. And there's no denying at this point that it has to do with the word "Christian" after "Iraqi." So it is effecting coverage and a lot of people need to check their own bias and their own hatred.

Jim: And on that note, we'll wrap up this religious roundtable. Illustration was done by Betty's oldest son. This is a rush transcript.

The stupidity of academia

Gary Leupp, The Smirking Ass, isn't content with boring university students, he now wants to launch a defense of . . . Bill Ayers. Apparently, Leupp is saving his 'needed' defense of Zac Efron for next week.

At Dissident Voice, Leupp blathers on:

Bill Ayers represents an era of widespread outrage at American imperialism, including in the U.S. itself--an era of deep division unparalleled since the Civil War. An era McCain and his right-wing fringe running-mate would like to forget or undo. They see nothing wrong in the Vietnam War except for a lack of will to win. The '60s "protesters" for them were a genus of traitors, whose very right to protest was somehow being defended by those bombing Hanoi. If the communists weren't stopped in Vietnam, they argued, they’d be invading the west Coast. Rational people see this argument as highly stupid now.

Three years after McCain was shot down over Hanoi while on that bombing mission, Ayers by his own admission participated in a bombing of a New York City police station, and went on to bomb the Capitol and Pentagon in the next two years. Each action came in response to a specific escalation of the Vietnam War. There were no casualties, and Ayers was never convicted of a crime. He denies that the bombings were acts of terrorism and points out instead that the war in Vietnam was a war of terror. (During this time, by the way, the 11 to 13 year old Obama was living in Indonesia and Hawai'i.)

You stupid idiot, Leupp. You don't know the first thing you're talking about and we're damn sick of all the fuck heads like yourself.

First off, Gary The Faux Radical, if you want to call US soldiers "war criminals," have the guts to fucking do so. That's what you're arguing in your loony tune rant. Go for it and see where that gets you. John McCain was in the military and followed orders -- the same way approximately 150,000 US service members do currently each day in Iraq. So cast your stones, Gare, be clear in what you're saying and stop using weasel words.

Vietnam was a tragedy and, how typical of the useless, Leupp wants to turn the group whose suffering was only second to the Vietnamese themselves into the 'bad guys.' How typical. He wants to take a decorated service member and liken him to a spoiled, White boy whose Daddy always paved the way -- including when Bill Ayers was 'underground.'

The reality Leupp and others refuse to face is that Bill wants to be respected for 'living his belief' but, in fact, he has not done that. Not in the 70s -- they are not the sixties, Dumb Ass Leupp -- and not in the 80s and not in the 90s and not today. While real radicals -- as opposed to play radicals -- like Angela Davis had to fight an oppressive system repeatedly, White skin and a rich Daddy made sure Ayers never had to stand for any belief and that, whenever the going got tough, money would be spread around to 'cushion' any realities that might intrude upon Bill's life.

Bill's a Daddy's Boy, he was born that and he will die that. He has never had the strength to stand on his own.

He is not a 'success' story, he is the typical weak-spirited, immature, sucking up to Daddy, little boy. Had he not hooked up with Bernardine, he would have retreated from his 'beliefs' long before he did. Hooking up with Bernardine allowed Daddy's Boy to take on a new role "Trophy Wife." Billy was the Nancy Reagan to Bernardine's Great Communicator.

He is not a leader, he is not an originator. His life, such as it is, is rather embarrassing. And it always embarrassing to watch faux radicals like Leupp insist make arguments that utilize sexism and racism.

Sexism? Bernardine was the leader of Weather Underground. Bernardine remains a leader today. Those elevating Bill to 'heroic' and 'leadership' status would never attempt to downgrade Jim and turn Judy into Rebel Without A Cause. But, and isn't it revealing, they do that over and over with Bill Ayers. Ayers is "the girl," Bernardine is the leader. It doesn't fit with their schema because they're just not used to see women in charge or in leadership.

Racism? Again, Angela Davis and other radicals didn't just stand up, they were persecuted for it and some still are. Daddy's Best Boy Bill Ayers never had to stand. Daddy spread the ConEd wealth around in Illinois and, long before Bill and Bernardine surfaced at the end of 1980, the state was on the record saying they would not prosecute either fugitive. That's 'democracy' at work, if you believe in Dollars For Democracy. And further proof of the racial bias in our legal system.

But Gary Leupp doesn't bother to address any of that mainly because he's a knee-jerk reactionary whose so stupid (and racist?) he's not even aware of Big Mama Thornton, Memphis Slim, John Lee Hooker, Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Sleepy John Estes, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Bessie Smith, Pete Seeger, Blind Boy Fuller, Billie Holiday, Big Bill Broonzy, Skip James . . . . We could go on forever. And we have to raise that issue because Leupp falsely maintains, "We in the '60s rarely listened to the music of the '20s, '30s and '40s." See, that's your first sign that you should shut your damn mouth, Leupp.

You don't know your facts and your false claims render a large number of musicians (primarily African-Americans) invisible. So just shut your damn mouth. You don't know what you're writing about and you do nothing but reinforce stereotypes.

There are many radicals worthy of a defense, Bill Ayers is not one because he's not a radical. He's Meg Ryan's Pam in Oliver Stone's The Doors -- along for the ride. It takes a lot of sexism to look at the 'coaster' and 'helpmate' of a couple and render him the leader. It takes a lot of racism to look at a rich White boy whose Daddy cushioned everyone of life's blows and declare him a 'victim' of an oppressive system.

Mainly it takes a lot of stupidity.

Weather Underground was not about ending the illegal war, it was about bringing that war to US shores and creating an armed revolution in the streets. Do not confuse it with the peace movement, do not confuse it with an oppressed class in the country rising up. Learn your facts or shut your damn mouth because the country already has more than enough middle-aged, straight White boys with chips on their shoulders. The fact that Leupp wants to be one 'from the left!' doesn't alter the reality that too many like him are already crowding the stage and need to make room for the under-represented.

Musical facts are still facts

September 21st's "Cock Rock Hall of Fame" included this paragraph:

Nyro was as much an influence as Joni Mitchell (and Nyro influenced Mitchell -- check out Ladies of the Canyon and contrast it with Mitchell's two albums prior). In the Smokey Robinson entry, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame makes much of Bob Dylan once saying that Smokey was one of the best songwriters -- left out is that Dylan has repeatedly stated that was a joke (and, indeed, that entire interview -- a press conference transcribed by Rolling Stone -- was a put-on on the party of Dylan). Dylan actually had praise for Nyro. She gets in when?

"Cock Rock Hall of Fame," "Sexism and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" and "The winner and top ten runner ups" all addressed the extreme sexism at play in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and they have resulted in many e-mails but the passage above has resulted in some very angry e-mails insisting Dylan did say it!

Read the passage above, it's noted Dylan said it . . . as a joke. The paragraph is correct.

We're going to walk through you slowly. Bob Dylan's first "Rolling Stone Interview" was not an interview, it was a press conference that took place in San Francisco in 1967. The press conference was a put-on. Dylan was asked for a list of poets he 'dug' and he responded: "Rimbaud, I guess; W.C. Fields. The family, you know, the trapeze family in the circus, Smokey Robinson, Allen Ginsberg, Charlie Rich -- he's a good poet."

Dylan immediately began denying his put-on comment. In Rolling Stone, he would deny it in his first actual Rolling Stone Interview (conducted by Jann Wenner, 1969):

Jann Wenner: What about poets? You said something about Smokey Robinson . . .

Bob Dylan: I didn't mean Smokey Robinson, I meant Arthur Rimbaud. I don't know how I could've gotten Smokey Robinson mixed up with Arthur Rimbaud (laughter). But I did.

For over forty years, Dylan has corrected his off-hand remark. If it hurts your feelings that Dylan doesn't think Smokey Robinson is one of the 'great poets,' we wonder what Dylan you've ever listened to?

You can research this yourself and, tip, you can start with The Rolling Stoe Interviews 1967-1980 (introduction by Ben Fong-Torres).

Smoke-free (Dona)

These days, I feel like Claire Bennet on Heroes. As Ava and C.I. would say, "We'll get to it."

But first, thank yous and apologies. Starting with the readers. Last week's edition ("10/19 - 10/26") resulted in a number of e-mails that fell into three camps: "We hate the edition and blame you"; "A bad edition, but we're there for you" and "An okay edition and we're there for you." For the latter two groups, thank you. For the first group, my apologies.

Two Saturdays ago, I quit smoking. There was no grand plan. If there had been, I would have bought something over the counter or maybe sought out a prescription.

Smokers who e-mailed got replies from me. I am not about to become a Smoke Nazi and start insisting the world be smoke free. I am not going to be 'down' on smokers. I do not think my attempt to quit makes me a better person or a worse person.

I just decided to stop, for a number of reasons. Obviously, C.I.'s own circumstances weighed in on my decision. I was probably thinking about it for a few weeks without realizing it and, when it surfaced, it just surfaced. The night before I quit, I had smoked an entire pack and it was the last one in my carton. Jim noticed that and asked if I wanted him to run to the store for some more smokes?

That's the kind of smoker I was. If I ran out at night, I really needed to go out and get another pack because I couldn't sleep knowing I didn't have a back up. Which explains why Jim looked at me strangely when I told him to forget about going on a smoke run and that we could go to bed.

When I woke up the next morning, my thought was, "I don't want to smoke anymore."

Obviously, that thought had been lurking or I would've sent Jim out for cigarettes the night prior. Why did I decide to stop?

Cancer fears, obviously. Irritation at the lack of public areas in which a person can smoke. I'm sure there are many additional reasons. But it's not like I made a list beforehand or gave it a great deal of thought.

I just felt ready to stop smoking and I did.

I may smoke again. A) A huge number of ex-smokers 'slip.' B) I made decide I want to smoke again.

I am not a poster girl for quitting smoking.

The first Saturday was very difficult. And it only got more difficult that night when we started working on the edition. It was so difficult that I was honestly highly nervous about this weekend.

My input last weekend was minimal. I'd made it through the day okay -- largely by staying busy -- but, when it was time to start writing, I was very aware that I had just stopped smoking and it was very difficult. I was craving and, when I wasn't craving, I was convinced that if I just had a lit cigarette in my hand -- even if I didn't smoke it! -- I'd have a ton of ideas, suggestions, etc. It was more difficult to write cold turkey than anything else.

I think everyone who participated last week but I really need to single a few people out.

First up, Elaine. She asked early on (when she was on the phone) if I wanted to stop and, upon hearing me say 'yes,' she made it very clear to everyone (including Jim) that her primary interest during the writing edition was me. Several times, we broke from the conference call to speak one-on-one on our cells. Elaine really helped me in more ways than I can say. She listened, she offered input and, mainly, she repeatedly called out anyone (even Jim) if a comment could be construed to suggest that any difficulty in the writing was my fault. It was my fault, I will own that, but I greatly appreciated Elaine's defending me and also her repeated statements about how my quitting smoking was more important than any edition.

Second, Betty. Mid-way through the edition, I ended up going to bed. I was just too jittery, craving too badly and wasn't accomplishing anything. One of the few moments during the writing of a piece that was enjoyable came via Betty who made a joke I don't even remember now but I do remember laughing so hard and then realizing I was actually laughing leading me to conclude that I might make it smoke-free. It was shortly after that when I took Elaine's suggestion to take a long, hot bath and go on to sleep.

Third, Ava and C.I. With Jess, the two of them had to attend a party. This was very much a 'had to.' Due to that and other factors, Jim, Ty and I had told Ava and C.I. that they would only need to write their TV commentary and should enjoy themselves. Stay out late, we said. Drink as much as you want. They took our advice. However, when they joined us, they found out that things had changed. Ava and C.I. did contribute their TV commentary ("TV: The fakes") but they also ended up writing the editorial ("The Do-as-I-say-not-as-I-whore movement (Ava & C.I.)") and working on various drafts that made it up here (including an intensive editing job -- according to Mike -- on "Remember New Hampshire!" and "We chose our side and we're sticking"). I'm very sorry they (and Jess) didn't get their weekend semi-off (Ava and C.I. are the only ones who can claim to have worked on every edition of Third, they have not missed a weekend writing session since the site started in January 2005).

Fourth, Ty. Ty has a sweet tooth. Ty purchases his writing edition snacks ahead of time. He only eats sugary treats during the writing editions. Because I was giving up smoking, Ty gave up his sugary snacks. I appreciated that. I know he felt as odd as I did. Nothing seemed to add up for either of us. Jim noted, "Ava and C.I. (who showed up late) walked in to say it was like being trapped in the episode of Kate & Allie." They were referring to when Susan St. James character quits smoking for the new year and Jane Curtain's character gives up sweets. Neither Ty or I knew that episode but Ava got a copy of it for us and we did laugh watching it Thursday. Thank you to Ty.

So I've owned my actions that caused turmoil and I now need to add something else. To some degree, what you got last weekend was a preview. Having read over the edition late in the week (after reading e-mails on it), I saw that to a large degree what was going on was stuff we'd talked about doing. I don't mean in terms of stories, I do mean in terms of the thrust for this site (which we consider an online magazine).

Take "Movie quotes" which Mike, Wally, Jim, Cedric and Jess worked on. We've talked about quizzes and about entertainment features for some time. Had the Democratic Party nominated an actual Democrat (or even just a candidate who really planned to end the Iraq War), this online magazine would be much different today. We'd also be very different if Panhandle Media had done their job. But instead of telling the people that Emperor Barack had no clothes on, they made fools out of themselves gushing, "The rock star is fitted!"

Take Ava and C.I.'s wonderful TV commentaries. They are writing, they have written, these amazing commentaries in 2008 that call out the things that other cannot or will not. They've charted the total corruption and collapse of Panhandle Media and much more. But that's really beyond the scope of what they ever intended to do. 2008 (and Jim!) imposed the expansion upon them.

In the summer of 2005, while working on an edition, C.I. shocked us by stating that The Common Ills would go dark in November 2008 and that the illegal war would still be going on. It was the latter point we argued with her about. It was the summer of Cindy Sheehan, it was the summer when even War Hawks like Rachel Maddow had to begin refashioning themselves for public consumption. Surely, by 2008, the illegal war would be over.

There are, what, nine or so weeks left in the year?

You see an end to the Iraq War?

Me neither.

Sites going dark? C.I. was tired and needed an end point to work to. We understood. We understood that TCI might go dark after the 2008 election. We were fine with that.

We also understood that it might continue. If it did, what would happen to this site? What would we do here? These are questions we've addressed over the last three years. One thing we were agreed upon was that we would do some lighter fare. Last week's edition probably reflects that better than anything else. Hopefully, the features would be more sharply written but that isn't really different from our plans if we continued past the November election.

And we will be continuing.

September 14th, Ava and C.I.'s "TV: The Fringes" included this: "When we shared that judgment with a writer for the show, we were asked to wait until the mid-season to review the show (changes are promised -- don't believe it). We're more than happy to wait because the fringe was what really interested us. Not the show, not the writing, the fringe. Or, as some might call it, the lunatic fringe." Ava and C.I. write two TV commentaries for El Spirito each week, they write radio commentaries for Hilda's Mix and they write here and have a ton of offline things to do (including speaking which they're back on the road doing). They included that to note that they would wait to review Fringe at the request of a friend. They agreed and didn't think anything of it. They included it and didn't think anything of it. Readers got it immediately: The site was continuing.

At least through mid-January, this site will continue. Ava and C.I. apologized and said they'd just do a weekly TV commentary after the election through mid-January but we're all fine with continuing. What's it going to be like? We don't know but we're not eager to maintain the level we've done in 2008.

That's a great deal of work and, remember, I'm the one always screaming, "Short pieces! Short pieces!" So we've talked about the sort of focus that last week's edition had. We may not end up doing that. 2009 may roll around and we may discover we need to hit even harder than in the past. Who knows?

I don't. What I do know is that I felt very little last week.

We're back to Claire on Heroes. In one episode this season, she's spoken of how she doesn't feel human because she's indestructible and can't feel pain. Two Saturdays ago was awful. When I woke up the next Sunday, it was okay. All last week, however, it was very weird. Everything seems a little different without cigarettes. There are times when I feel like my feelings are less keen. I often feel as if I'm underwater and moving in slow motion. It is an adjustment, to say the least.

Kat deserves a special thank you for the week prior, during the writing edition, lying to me and saying I'd just be like her from now on. I'd grabbed my keys and was planning to go get some smokes. Kat told me to wait and swore that, like her, I'd be able to smoke from time to time. A lie but a kind one that got me to put my keys down. If I smoke again, I'll be smoking like I was before.

I'm not Kat. She can have a cigarette every six months and leave it at that. I am a two-pack-a-day smoker. And to start back up would mean going back to that.

The thing that I feared most of all was hurting another writing edition and facing another writing edition. After nearly four years of these weekly editions with cigarette (and diet cola) in hand, it really feels weird to take part in these all night writing editions without a cigarette. Every thing's different now, as 'Til Tuesday once sang. And it feels very different.

I've singled out some for individual thanks but, along with thanking our readers, let me thank Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Ty, Jess, and Ava,

Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,

Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,

C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,

Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),

Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,

Mike of Mikey Likes It!,

Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,

Ruth of Ruth's Report,

Wally of The Daily Jot,

and Marcia of SICKOFITRDLZ.

Ralph finally gets some network news attention

Monday, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams aired a report on the presidential campaign of Ralph Nader and it was greatly appreciated. You can use the link to find the video of the report and you can use the link to find the interview Ron Allen conducted with Ralph for the report.

How long either will be up is anyone's guess but C.I. provided a transcript to the sixteen minutes interview Allen did with Nader in the "Iraq snapshot" for Tuesday and we're offering it in full below. Ralph Nader has been endorsed by Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess, Rebecca, Betty, Kat, Mike, Cedric, Wally, Trina, Marcia, Ruth and community members in 49 states. Oklahoma community members are endorsing the McCain-Palin ticket and Ava and C.I. have not endorsed anyone in the presidential race (but have stated they will not vote for either McCain or Obama).

Nader - Gonzalez '08

Ron Allen: I think the first question everybody has is why do you keep doing this because it would seem you really don't have a chance of winning? So why do you keep pursuing this?

Ralph Nader: You have to keep justice on the front burner. The forces of injustice never take a vacation and the forces of justice can never take a vacation. So as long as I can go around the country putting the progressive agenda on the front table for people, giving voters a choice, I feel I have to do it.

Ron Allen: So what is winning? Is there a specific policy, a specific change of the process that in your mind, makes this worth it?

Ralph Nader: There are a lot of different definitions of winning. One of them is building for a future third political force that can really win an election. The second is bringing lots of people into local, state and national elections as candidates -- especially young people in the future. The third is to push the two parties -- a tugboat candidacy to either make them less worse or a little better which is a historic function of third parties.

Ron Allen: And do you think -- do you think -- is there a way to really measure what you've accomplished, do you think?

Ralph Nader: Oh we'll see. We're pressing for example for single payer health insurance. They're 93 members of the House who've signed on John Conyers HR 676 so let's say we get a good vote and we're trade marked by this agenda -- more people sign on, we think we've played a part.

Ron Allen: This time your signature issues seems to be the rescue package, the bail-out, your opposition to it. It's a consumer-ish issue which is in your wheelhouse. Do you think however -- the administration, the Congress seemed to insist that this was absolutely necessary to avert wider catastrophe -- do you think your message is getting through though?

Ralph Nader: Yes, because I think it was the wrong kind of bail-out. They shouldn't have bailed out first the speculators and the high-risk paper, you should have helped the prudent institutions and the prudent savers that developed a wall to protect them from the ruinous fall-out from Wall St. Second, I think that there should have been re-regulation because de-regulation opened the doors to this excessive speculation and most important the Congress should have made the speculators pay for their bail-out with a tiny tax, 1/10 of 1 percent of the security transactions that are traded every year. That would produce $500 million.

Ron Allen: Part of the rescue package -- without getting too much -- contains some of that, some of the broader principles that Obama and McCain and others argued for, seemed to contain some of that. That tax payers would be investors, that there would be a return on this. Is that not enough?

Ralph Nader: It wasn't thorough enough, it's too easily evaded in terms of the tax payer equity. For example, they weren't given any representation on the boards of directors and there was a cut-off below which they wouldn't have any equity and it was very complex and not really very enforceable. I think when it came to the $700 billion bail-out of Wall St., Washington had Wall St. over a barrel. They could have gotten anything in that bill because Wall St. wanted that $700 billion and, instead, Wall St. pushed Washington in the barrel and rolled it to a blank check. That's why I think Congress has got to revisit this issue.

Ron Allen: Now there's an issue where there was a lot of support for that point of view in the country as there have been for other ideas you have pushed. I hear both candidates, for example, talking about public works projects which you were talking about only a moment ago. Do you think that, having run for the office so long and been out there for so long and not increased your margin significantly, do you think that perhaps you're not the best messenger for your own cause now?

Ralph Nader: No, I think I am the best manager because it's very hard to be nationally known for any candidate unless you're a multi-billionaire. And I am nationally known, I have a track record, I have constituencies around the country which I have helped over the years so I thank I am the candidate for those positions.

Ron Allen: But some people would argue it's the ideas, it's the positions, it's not you. And I think that Obama and others have suggested that in their assessment of you, it's too much about you and it's not about the ideas. I think he said something to the effect that his sense was that if you don't agree with everything Nader stands for, he thinks less of you, he thinks you're not substantive. I think was the word he used.

Ralph Nader: Well let's put it this way. Take all our speeches -- my speeches, Senator Obama's, Senator McCain's -- and count the number of times they say "I" compared to the number of times I say "I" and I think that's your answer. I'm the least egotistical candidate probably in presidential history.

Ron Allen: Let's take them individually. Senator McCain, Governor Palin, what's wrong with them?

Ralph Nader: Well they're corporate candidates. Except for Governor Palin -- she did stand up to the oil companies. But if you look at Senator McCain's positions he is for restricting the rights to have their full day in court of wrongly injured people. That's tort reform, for example. He has consistently supported a bigger military budget. He is very militaristic towards certain countries in the world. He wants the idea of a hundred military bases around the world. He has a cockamamie health insurance plan that's not going to give sufficient health care to all the people in this country. And Governor Palin has fallen in line.

Ron Allen: What do you think of her?

Ralph Nader: Well I think that she has been mistreated. But I think that it was the fault of the Republicans because they introduced her to the American people not as a governor of a state, they introduced her as a soccer mom, they introduced her as having five children, NRA member, a hunter, a fisherman, and once you have that folksy image it's easy to prick the balloon and give the impression she's empty.

Ron Allen: Do you think she's qualified?

Ralph Nader: She's as qualified as any other presidential and vice presidential candidate. What do you have to be to be a member of the two parties and run for president? All you have to do is know how to read and write, get advisers and follow corporate orders.

Ron Allen: When you were talking about -- when you were talking about Senator Obama, you said prepare to be disappointed if he wins. What did you mean by that?

Ralph Nader: Because I think he is very receptive to corporate power and that's why he doesn't have a full Medicare plan for the American people, that's why he doesn't press for a real living wage, just to keep up with inflation on the minimum wage it would be $10 an hour instead it's $6.55 an hour. He doesn't have a platform to crack down on the corporate crime wave that the mainstream press keeps reporting. He doesn't have a program for the bottom 100 million poor Americans and that's just the beginning of what we're going to see of Senator Obama if he wins.

Ron Allen: And you were also in there railing against the mainstream media, us. Why do you think it is that you think you don't get a lot of coverage? Why is it that you don't get any coverage? I think the editors would say, as I think they've told you, you're not that relevant you're not going to win why should we spend the time devoting scarce resources at what you're doing?Ralph Nader: Because I think the media should be interested in a competitive democracy. I think they believe there should be a competitive economy. I think that without a competitive democracy, voter choices are narrowed and the voters that are their audience and one would think they would give more voices and choices in their own reporting other than the same routine daily, redundant, five-minute speeches by Senator Obama and Senator McCain. Reporters keep telling me how bored they are covering the presidential campaigns. Well, we can give them some excitement.

Ron Allen: And also listening to you, it sounds like, it sounds like for you it's not about, you don't seem to -- you're not telling your audiences 'we're going to win, we're going to go to the White House' Winning is a much different goal. You talked about some thirty-odd states where it's not going to be a contest, you can vote your conscience in other places. Have you gotten much more realistic about this?

Ralph Nader: Well I'm always realistic but I know that if you don't allow seeds to sprout, you'll never get plants or trees and if business doesn't allow entrepreneurs a chance, you're never going to rejuvenate the business community but somehow the press has bought into this two-party duopoly which is very exclusionary on presidential debates, on ballot access and this two party duopoly can't be regenerated unless small political starts have a chance to be heard by the American people and that means the mass media.

Ron Allen: And in terms of the two parties, there are still some people out there who -- you may never live this down -- as you know, there are many people who, there are people out there who still blame you for Al Gore's loss in Florida and in 2000 and therefore for the last eight years.

Ralph Nader: Well Al Gore doesn't blame the Green Party to his credit. He thinks he won the election -- which he did in the popular vote but the electoral college threw it into Florida and he can give you chapter and verse on how it was taken from him illicitly from Tallahassee all the way to the five Republican politicians on the Supreme Court who selected George W. Bush as president. But it's interesting that you raise this because I don't think the mass media can have it both ways. On the one hand they say,
Nader-Gonzalez doesn't have a chance to win therefore don't cover them. On the other hand, they say well Nader-Gonzalez may be 'spoilers,' that bigoted political word, and tip the election by tipping some of the close states. Well, which is it?

Ron Allen: I think that was the case back in 2000. I don't think people think that's the case now.

Ralph Nader: Well because of recent polls but they thought that back in July.

Ron Allen: Do you think you're going to influence some of these battlegrounds? I've heard you suggest that Colorado, Nevada, places where you think you could in fact effect the outcome.

Ralph Nader: Well we want to get as many votes as we can so we're traveling and getting votes in all fifty states but if we are going to be able to be heard more by going into the close states and effecting the margins, we'll be very pleased to do it because our interests are the health, safety and economics well being of the American people not the plight of one party over another.

Ron Allen: But do you actually think, is there a state where you think that you are really going to have an impact at this point, just a few weeks -- couple of weeks -- before the election?

Ralph Nader: Well it could be Ohio but it's trending towards an Obama landslide so Ohio I suppose is close maybe Florida is still close. What else would there be?

Ron Allen: But again in states where you seem to be running the strongest, Colorado, Nevada,

Ralph Nader: Yes, in Colorado --

Ron Allen: Even if you don't effect the overall outcome, do you really think you're going to have an impact? Where do you think you're going to have the greatest impact?

Ralph Nader: Well I think the greatest impact will be where ever the media covers us the most and they'll probably cover us the most when we go into the small states. Assuming there isn't a landslide by then.

Ron Allen: Do you think -- how do you think the election is going to turn out?

Ralph Nader: Right now? If nothing happens in the next two weeks, I think it will be a big Democratic landslide for the Congress and probably 330 electoral votes for Barack Obama.

Ron Allen: And what's wrong with that?

Ralph Nader: Well one thing that is not wrong is that the Democrats will control the White House and the Congress with large minorities and they'll have no more excuses How many times have I gone up on Capitol Hill and said, "Why don't you strengthen the consumer protection laws and why don't you end these corporate subsidies? And why don't you get full health insurance and living wage?" And they always say well we can't get it through because Republicans will stop us. No more excuses. If there's a Democratic landslide we're going to put so much heat on Congress and the White House that they're going to have to move for the American people and stop succumbing to the demands of their corporate pay masters.

Ron Allen: And if there was one idea or one thing you would like to accomplish, of if there was one part of a platform or a policy proposal that McCain or Obama or the Democrats or Republicans were willing to adopt that would say, that would make Ralph Nader say "Okay, I'll stop running for president I'll join you" what would it be? What would have to happen for you not to do this?

Ralph Nader: Well that they take the populist positions that we have on our website and --

Ron Allen: The whole thing?

Ralph Nader: They're very long overdue. Western Europe has most of them, out of the rubble of WWII full health insurance, living wage, decent pensions, four weeks paid vacation, university free tuition at public universities. The kind of elementary civilized benefits like paid maternity leave, paid family sick leave, decent day care, they've had these for years and we're the richest country in the world. Barack Obama and John McCain will not come out for these straight and clear.

Ron Allen: That sounds like a very socialistic position.

Ralph Nader: Well it's called a Social-Democratic position in Europe and basically to me it's just elementary humanity because if we really love our country we will have to love the people in our country and people who are poor or disabled or otherwise disadvantaged but work hard and want to play a role in our society and raise their children why can't we give them a lending hand?

Ron Allen: And lastly, why -- why is someone not wasting their vote if they vote for you?

Ralph Nader: Because they'll be voting for their conscience. They'll be voting for what a middle-aged man told me in Syracuse recently when he came up to me and he said, "I'm voting for myself, therefore I'm voting for Ralph Nader."

Ron Allen: Meaning?

Ralph Nader: Meaning -- meaning that for forty years I've demonstrated that I will not succumb to corporate power, I will not be tempted by corporate accouterments. I will stand for the people of this country from A to Z, I will stand for their just treatment by the powers that be whether they be in Wall Street or whether they be in Washington.

Ron Allen: And again what is -- when you look back on this campaign months from now what will -- what will have made it a success? What does it take to make this a success for you?

Ralph Nader: Well we're turning a corner on the violations of candidates' civil liberties by winning cases to break down the ballot access barriers in many states that deny voters a choice. These are Jim Crow type laws to keep candidates off the ballot and without candidate rights, voter rights aren't worth as much because voters won't have a choice. That's a clear trend that we are advancing. Number two, we keep alive a future progressive enlightenment in our country. All of the things that are so overdue that the American people need and deserve and are being denied because of the concentration of power and wealth in so few hands. Number three and the most gratifying for me is the young people who are volunteering, who are going to be the political leaders of the future, who are learning the skills of clean political activity.

Ron Allen: And do you still think that you can be an effective messenger for that cause, again, given the last number of years that you've run unsuccessfully, the criticism that you've endured, the fact that a significant number of people don't take you seriously you still think you can be an effective messenger?

Ralph Nader: Well I take the American people seriously and that's enough for me. But I remember the famous progressive writer I.F. Stone who once said that every social justice in this country started by people who lost and who lost and who lost but in the process of losing built more and more support for the breakthrough that made this a better country. So I am not afraid to keep losing and losing as long as we are expanding awareness and galvanizing energies of the American people for a better future.
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