OLD GEEZER BARACK OBAMA IS IN THE MIDST OF HIS THIRD VACATION SINCE JANUARY. HE TOOK HIS 1ST VACATION FOLLOWING HIS RUNNING OFF AT THE MOUTH IN PHILADELPHIA. HE TOOK HIS 2ND VACATION AFTER STEALING THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION. AND NOW HE'S VACATIONING AGAIN -- ALTHOUGH HE PREFERS TO SAY, "I'M GETTING MY BEAUTY REST."
WHEN REACHED IN HAWAII FOR COMMENT, BARACK EXPLAINED, "ONE OF THE REASONS I WANT TO BE PRESIDENT IS FOR THE BENEFITS. I SAW ALL THE VACATION DAYS BULLY BOY GOT AND I FIGURED I DESERVED THEM TOO. I'D LIKE SOME SICK DAYS TOO BUT I'M NOT GOING TO CHOKE ON A PRETZEL JUST TO GET THEM. IT'S GOOD TO BE PRESIDENT."
Starting with war resisters. Agustin Aguayo served in Iraq and refused to load his weapon. Aguayo learned quickly upon arriving in Iraq that 'rules' were out the window as he and other medics were instructed that they would not care for any Iraqi civilians wounded. Seeing it first happened deepened Aguayo's spirituality and his beliefs that the Iraq War was illegal and immoral. He attempted to go through the process where the US military grants you Conscientious Objector status. When the military refused to recognize that he was a CO, Aguayo took it to the civilian courts. A hearing was scheduled in the US Court of Appeals for November 2006; however, the US military informed he would be in Iraq when that hearing took place. To explain physically (he'd already done so verbally many times) that he was not deploying for a second tour of Iraq, Aguayo self-checked out of the US military on September 2nd and turned himself at Fort Irwin on September 26. Despite being AWOL less than thirty days, the US military decided to court-martial him for desertion. March 6, 2007, Aguayo was court-martialed and Aguayo admited he was AWOL but refused the charges of desertion. Col Peter Masteron sentenced Aguayo to 8 months in prison but did allow the 161 days Aguayo had already been imprisoned to count towards time already served. In June, Agustin and his wife Helga P. Aguayo provided updates to the current status. Agustin had hoped to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court (and had every right to -- as well as a strong case, the military's refusal was based on the 'concept' that religion and spirituality are a fixed point and cannot be deepened by life, time or experiences). March 18th the Supreme Court refused the case. Agustin writes, "This mean my case will never be heard by the Supreme Court and my quest for justice failed and I will never be vindicated legally. Although, I have come to accept this and knew of the possibility it has been disheartening. I don't need outside sources to validate me. I know who I am and I know what is in my heart." Helga explains the physical strain of the ordeal:
My health which had been on a steady decline finally deteriorated to the point where my condition of Psoriasis became life-threatening. The stress of fighting the Army and being persecuted for opposing this war had finally caught-up with me. There have been ups and downs to my health but the situation when Augie got back was pretty grim. I think I had been so strong for so long that I was finally able to let go and fall; I knew Augie would be there to catch me. Aside from my condition I didn't realize how badly hurt my family was. Our harshest battle has come from trying to put our family back together, again. My panic attacks were out of control and it almost seemed as if Augie and I picked-up right where we left off the last time we were together: having major panic and anxiety attacks while he jumped out the back window and went AWOL. His PTSD kicked in full force and I was a basket case. Throughout our ordeal, [their twin daughters] Raquel and Rebecca had been strong and fought side by side with us, with poise and courage. But they too, began showing signs of emotional crises. [. . . ] They saw their father be dragged away to prison, convicted and labeled a felon. And then we had to start over from scratch. How were we to begin healing?
Agustin stays busy in a number of ways as he waits for his discharge, "Currently, I am involved in peace work and speak as much as I can to at-risk youth. My wife and I also support many soldiers and their families going through the CO process and/or deployment. For more information on this program click here. To help fund this project click here. And although we still don't have a book deal we are actively working on a book project." At the Aguayos' website you can purchase the documentary A Man Of Conscience about Agustin (by Sally Marr and Peter Dudar) on DVD for ten dollars plus shipping and handling. Agustin had many things all war resisters don't have. He had a mother and extended family willing to stand with him. He had his daughters supporting him. And he had Helga who never backed down no matter how the military attempted to intimidate her into silence. Helga was fierce (and I mean that as the highest compliment) and that's most likely the reason Agustin got credit for time served. She dared one and all not to look at her during the court-martial and not to grasp the way they were terrorizing her family as they attempted to rail-road her husband. If they attempted to steer her husband's case out of the press, she just spoke out louder.
Repeatedly, we've seen that those with a support base tend to fare better in legal proceedings than those without. Of those with, a support base that is highly vocal and does not go away tends to result in lesser sentence.
War resisters in Canada often don't have that built-in support because they've restarted their lives in a new country. But anyone can send the message that the world is watching. To pressure the Stephen Harper government to honor the House of Commons vote, Gerry Condon, War Resisters Support Campaign and Courage to Resist all encourage contacting the Diane Finley (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration -- 613.996.4974, phone; 613.996.9749, fax; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org -- that's "finley.d" at "parl.gc.ca") and Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, 613.992.4211, phone; 613.941.6900, fax; e-mail email@example.com -- that's "pm" at "pm.gc.ca"). Courage to Resist collected more than 10,000 letters to send before the vote. Now they've started a new letter you can use online here. The War Resisters Support Campaign's petition can be found here. Long expulsion does not change the need for action and the War Resisters Support Campaign explains: "The War Resisters Support Campaign is calling on supporters across Canada to urgently continue to put pressure on the minority conservative government to immediately cease deportation proceedings against other US war resisters and to respect the will of Canadians and their elected representatives by implementing the motion adopted by Parliament on June 3rd. Please see the take action page for what you can do."
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Yovany Rivero, William Shearer, Michael Thurman, Andrei Hurancyk, Megan Bean, Chris Bean, Matthis Chiroux, Richard Droste, Michael Barnes, Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Turning to the US presidential race. Ralph Nader is the independent candidate for president
The two-party system -- a 220-year-old political prison, winner take all, electoral college, duopoloy -- basically says to voters: "You got two choices. You stay home and not vote. Or, if you want your vote to mean something, and you want to be with the winner, you vote for one of the two major party candidates. Otherwise, you are wasting your vote." And you hear Matt [Gonzalez] say, "Were those voters in the 19th century who spun off from the Whigs and the Democrats and didn't try to spin the difference between these two parties on slavery waste their vote?" Aren't we glad that enough voters voted for the Liberty Party at least to put it on the political map in 1840 and the Woman's Suffrage Party, the Populist Party, the Labor Party, the Greenback Party. All these parties and then Norman Thomas' Socilaist Party, Progressive Party will follow it. Eugene Debbs. What did they propose? A-ha. The blasphemy of their days is the common place of our days. They proposed direct election of senators, 40-hour week, progressive income tax, Social Security, Medicare. They proposed labor standards. They proposed regulation of big business. So we have three kind of voters in this country. One, the hereditary voters who will vote Republican and Democrat no matter who the nominee is because their grandparents did. That's a big chunk. [NYC] Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg, when he was thinking of running for [presidential] office, I had a telephone conversation with him -- actually, just before he was going to announce that he wasn't, on that day. And he said "I've done surveys and polls all over the country. Here's my conclusion. 15% of the Republicans will vote for the Republican nominee if the Republican nominee was Leon Trotsky. And 15% of the Democrats would vote for the Democratic nominee if the nominee was Ayn Rand." That was a way of saying, if he threw his hat in the ring, he starts with a 30% handicap. Maybe he's understimating it? But that's one, the hereditary voter. The second is the tactical voter. The tactical voter says, "Let's be realitistic. We don't care about how bad the Democratic Party is in terms of our supporting it as long as we know the Republican Party is worse. That's the tactical vote. "Be realisitic." The tactical voters is one who spends three years moaning and groaning about the Democratic Party. "They didn't roll back any of President Bush's legislation when they took over in 2007! Not one. Not even the disallowing Uncle Sam to negotiate for volume discounts with the drug companies when the Drug Benefit Act -- a bonaza worth tens of billions of dollars to the drug companies -- was enacted. They didn't roll back anything. They keep funding the war. Their leader -- presumptive nominee -- wants more soldiers in Afghanistan. He doesn't have an exit strategy. They don't do anything about strengthening the corporate criminal crime laws. John Conyers has a single-payer bill, HR 676, 85 members of the House have signed on but he can't get one Democratic Senator to introduce it in the Senate. Not one. Not Obama, not Clinton and not those two great, new progressive senators Bernie Sanders and Senator Brown. Sherrod Brown from Ohio. Those are the great hopes of the progressive wing. Now why don't they introduce it? Senator Sanders who has come out against impeachment vigorously along with Senator Brown "It's exactly what Karl Rove wants us to do -- is to initiate impeachment." 'So he can turn the 26% of the people who support Bush against us!' Is that what he really means? I'm putting that word in his mouth. I mean this is the lowest popular president in modern times and Cheney's at 16% which is almost happen-stance, you know. Harry Truman proposed universal health care. 1945. Sent it to Congress 1950. What are we talking about here? Isn't it about time that we join the community of nations? Taiwan has universal health care. Every western country has universal health care. A country we give four billion dollars a year to, Israel, has universal health care. Maybe they should have a foreign aid program? Reverse it back to us? Now what does it mean when you don't have health insurance? What is means is that 18,000 Americans die every year according to the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, that's six 9-11s every year. The Urban Institute just came out with an estimate: 22,000. That means hundreds of, hundreds of thousands of people get sick, stay sick, don't have their injuries treated cause they can't afford health insurance. Why doesn't that get us angry? Because the people who can do something about it, who can have their calls returned, have health insurance. How many people here do not have health insurance? That's pretty impressive. How many are under twenty-five? See, that's what people out of school are now facing. Trying to find affordable health insurance, or health insurance of any kind, affordable housing, trying to deal with rapacious student loan companies like Sallie Mae with all their fine print and their gouging interest rates, wondering whether their jobs are going to be outsourced abroad because anything with software, architect, engineer, accounting, computer, all that can be outsourced. Law -- a lot of law jobs now are starting to be outsourced. Even media jobs are starting to be outsourced. I'm still looking for CEO jobs to be outsourced. I think there are some very good bi-lingual Chinese executives, brilliant skills, who for 10 percent of the pay would take care at General Motors and Exxon and Pfizer. After all, they're outsourcing their own employees jobs to keep up with the global competition. Well . . . let's start at the top. Huh? So the tactical voter is a complicit voter -- wittingly or unwittingly -- because the moment you go you're so terrified of the worst party you go to the next worst party -- on a huge number of issues, a huge number of corporate power issues. Then you're saying to the least worst nominee -- Obama, for example -- that your vote can be taken for granted because you are so terrified of the Republicans that you will not make any demands on Obama in the area of women's rights and abolishing poverty and consumer protection and environment and tax changes and the wars and all the rest of it. And labor reforms and repeal of Taft-Hartley. So you don't make any demands. Don't, don't disturb them! I mean, they gotta' be elected! They've got a strategy for election. They sure have. Mondale. Dukakis. Kerry. Gore -- who won but it was taken from him, but it was a lot closer than it should be. Clinton who had Bob Dole as his opponent, who would campaign in Missouri and look at his watch and say, "I think I got to go to the airport so I can get home." Washington, DC. He really wasn't that serious. It is not a winning strategy. It is a losing strategy. Clinton, as Matt just said, benefitted greatly from those 19 million votes [referring to the 19 million who voted for H. Ross Perot, the third-party candidate]. Then there's the third class of voter. The third class of voter reflects what Eugene V. Debbs once said. He said, "Better to vote for someone you believe in and lose than someone you don't believe in and win." What did he mean by that? He meant if you vote for someone you don't believe in and win that someone is going to betray you, that someone is not going to look back on what your support is supposed to mean. And the Democrats have betrayed this country in ways that some chroniclers will fill many books in the coming future. So the important thing here is to measure these parties by what the American people need, want, deserve, are entitled to. That's way over do. Those are the yardsticks. The Democrats could have stopped Bush on the war. They had the votes to block almost everything he did. You know the Senate can, when you've got over 40 seats you can almost block anything. Ask the Republicans.
That's Ralph Nader speaking at Sebastopol Sunday. Did you miss it? You can hear it online. Bonnie Faulkner -- apparently the last working journalist in broadcast media -- thinks you have a right to know about all the candidates, not just the front runners. Wednesday on KPFA, her program, Guns and Butter, featured Matt Gonzales and Ralph Nader speaking at the Sebastopol Community Center. [Here for KPFA archive.] Maria Recio (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that, "Nader accuses the news media of being in a 'cultural rut' by ignoring him. He said he'd been on national television only 10 seconds this election cycle. 'Put me in all the debates and we'll have a three-way race'." And Ralph's right about that. David Cook (Christian Science Monitor) offers a more complete quote of Nader, "The media is in a cultural rut. I am not talking about their private, incisive, skeptical conversations with one another. I am talking about the questions they don't ask, the questions they ask. Give me a bunch of 10-year-olds instead of the White House press corps, and the president would be far, far more upset and anxious. . . . Don't be so cynical about small starts. If nature was like you, seeds would never have a chance to sprout."
It was a breakthrough day with the mainstream media.
Yesterday morning, Ralph Nader met with a group of reporters at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
The meeting resulted in a slew of articles - including those that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Miami Herald, the National Journal and US News and World Report.
One of the points that Ralph made at the meeting yesterday was that if he is given the opportunity to debate the two corporate candidates - McCain and Obama - it will become a three-way race.
Yes it will.
But right now, the debates are controlled by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) - which is controlled by the two major parties and the corporations that fund them.
But fear not.
We'll be campaigning over the next couple of weeks to bust up the corporate hammerlock on free speech in this election year and to get Ralph and Matt into the debates.
To first step is to create a viable candidacy.
And the candidacy can't be viable if we're not on enough state ballots.
As the Miami Herald headline put it today: Nader Sets Goal to be on Most Ballots.
Our goal: 45 states.
And thanks to you, we're on track - on in 28 now, 30 by Sunday, 45 by September 20.
But right now, we need your help to fund this massive, nationwide ballot access drive.
We need your help to meet our target of $100,000 by Sunday, August 10.
And in return, we'll ship you No Debate, the classic expose of the Commission on Presidential Debates.
And we'll also send you an autographed copy of Ralph Nader's 49-page political manifesto - Civic Arousal.
To help us bust open the debates this year, you'll need these two books - No Debate for the rock solid expose and criticism of the corporate-controlled debates.
And Civic Arousal for a healthy dose of homegrown Ralph inspiration.
(In Civic Arousal, Ralph reports the following: When we were youngsters, our father would ask us provocative questions. One day he asked - What is the most powerful, event-producing force in the world? We guessed and guessed. His answer: Apathy. What? Yes, he said. Apathy. Because huge numbers of apathetic citizens, or victims, allow bad guys to create all kinds of problems on the ground - from dictatorial regimes, to repressed economic conditions, to health and safety hazards, to corruption, to wars.)