Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Grown men embarrass themselves

Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney was a guest on NPR's Talk of the Nation today.  There seemed to be confusion or outright hostility aimed at her from Ken Rudin and host Neal Conan.  A perfect example is when Cynthia was asked how her run was different from independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's run.  Either the two men were extremely dense or they were hoping to create some slug-fest. 
"Well first of all," she began, "I'm running as part of the Green Party" which has over 200 elected officials in the US . . . But it was lost on the two men.  She then attempted to explain that November 5th the Green Party would still be in place.  For some reason, this was confusing and very hard for the two men to understand.  Cynthia is not the independent presidential candidate, she is the nominee of a party.  That is one way in which her run and Ralph's run are different.  Somehow that was either confusing to the men or they were just hoping that Cynthia would launch a slug-fest.
What she did have to speak about they weren't interested in.  That included the death penalty and who would have guessed that was a 'fringe' issue to NPR?  Repeatedly pressed as to how much difference she saw between the Republican and the Democratic Parties, she offered as an example the issues that get addressed and discussed and the ones that do not.  Cynthia pointed out that the death penalty has been ignored by the campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain.
There wasn't any interest in exploring the death penalty issue even after Cynthia pointed out that it hadn't been included in the debates.  There was no interest in exploring anything.  Asked about her run at the start, she began, "Well basically, le me sort of bring you up to speed on when all of this started and how all of this started."  She then briefly recounted how she found herself, last year, standing in front of the Pentagon and delivering a speech about how the shift to a Democratically controlled Congress (following the November 2006 mid-term elections) had not resulted in any movement, how the Democratic leadership had become complicit on issues they supposedly opposed such as the Patriot Act and the illegal war in Iraq.  The boys weren't interested in that.  They weren't interested in her tying her departure from the Democratic Party to "the footsteps of people who a hundred years ago declared their independence" -- referring to the suffragette movement and the "260 women and 40 men gathered in a room and they also declared their independence" was about all she got to before the boys wanted to cut her off. 
It wasn't a conversation, it wasn't a discussion.  It wasn't pleasant to listen to.  At one point Cynthia McKinney was attempting to discuss the issues she and her running mate Rosa Clemente supported such as college education and how the government will "spend $720 million" for violence and war but not to put America's youth through college.  "People need the opportunity to hear a different set of issues discussed," she would explain.  But college education didn't matter to the boys. 
Repeatedly, Cynthia would present a topic and either be cut off or allowed to make her remark only to have the topic immediately switched by the boys.  It was not a professional interview, it was not a joy to listen to.
Cynthia wisely chose to take the Sarah Palin path. (Palin in the Democratic and Republican vice-presidential debate: "And I may not answer the questions the way that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let 'em know my track record also.")  Since Neil and Ken weren't interested in a discussion or anything even approximating a follow-up question, Cynthia was correct to talk beyond and over them noting that she and Rosa were "broadening the political discourse and we're representing those people and their values who've been locked out of the two party paradigm."  She explained she and Rosa were on the ballot in 32 states and that people in 17 other states could write the McKinney-Clemente ticket in.  A caller named Daneil phoned from North Carolina to explain that, "In our state, North Carolina, we can't really write in a candidate" because there's a space but he doesn't believe a write-in vote will be tabulated.  Cynthia discussed the hurdles involved involved in just becoming a write-in candidate in North Carolina and, had the boys paid attention, they could have explored this issue in depth.  Instated, they came to the interview with a set of questions they were going to work through regardless of any reply or topic raised.  Facts also weren't important which is why Cynthia had to correct Neil when he wrongly characterized her as not having campaigned in the north.  (Also true is her running mate Rosa has done multiple events in the north.) 
What may have been most shocking considering the boring trivia the boys started the hour with -- first African-American woman to head a political party ticket (answer, Charlene Mitchell the 1968 Communist Party presidential nominee).  The fumble, stumble, eat up time with bad guesses would have only been worthwhile had the overgrown boys ever taken a moment to ask Cynthia about her own historic run.  Needless to say, two tired boys are rarely interested in discussing progress for women.  Cynthia next appears Saturday October 25 on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday.
Your experience with the Counter-Intelligence Program of yesterday is instructive today now that the Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, the Military Commissions Act, the Funding for the War on Terror Act are all carved into the law. Kathleen and Natsu and, of course, King Downing, and others can describe how vastly the legal landscape has changed. But there is one aspect of the operation to neutralize your good works and your good name that has not changed. And that's what I want to talk about today.  
How many times has the corporate press used the word "spoiler" in reference to the 2000 Presidential election and every Presidential election since then and how many times have they reported accurately the number of black votes cast and not counted or the way in which black voters were disfranchised?  
How many times did the corporate press use the word "conspiracy," not in conjunction with the September 11th tragedy, but in conjunction with those who want to know the truth about what happened on that day?  
How many times did the corporate media lie to the people of this country and the world in the lead-up to the war against Iraq?  
In the wake of accounts of torture and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, how many times were prisoner abuse and torture inside this country mentioned? How many times was Attica, the Angola 3, Chicago's Area 2, or the San Francisco 8 mentioned?  
In this, an election year, how many times have stories on election integrity been written that inform and warn potential voters of the problems they might face at the polling place and what their rights are if they encounter them?  
Margaret Kimberley (Black Agenda Report) believes Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama will be swept into office and notes how 'calming' his signals to conservatives are: "He makes it clear he will address black people directly only when chastisement is on the agenda.  If anyone has doubts, the sight of Obama campaign commercials featuring one or two black faces, Obama's included, seal the deal for the two Christophers and their friends.  What will Progressives for Obama have to say about the conservative pitching and wooing for their candidate? If past history is any indication, they and other progressives will say nothing at all.  They made a decision to collude with the Obama agenda that progressives ought to oppose.  The praises of Buckley and Hitchens will have no effect on them any more than the pledges to keep troops in Iraq or to escalate the war in Afghanistan.  Obama will make history in more ways than one.  He won't just be the first black president.  He will be the first president in modern history that convinced millions of people not to believe the words that came out of his own mouth.  'Change' is the campaign slogan, but his policy agenda tells us we will see anything but that.  Hitchens and Buckley are certainly convinced that there won't be any changes that aren't to their liking."
Senator John McCain is the Republican presidential nominee and Governor Sarah Palin is his running mate.  Brian Montopoli (CBS News) reports on "Sweat Equity," the new ad from McCain-Palin '08 that takes issue with Barack's "spread the wealth around" comment to Joe Wurzelbacher.  Jake Tapper, Matt Jaffee and Imtiyaz Delawala (ABC News, Political Punch) echo CBS News' Scott Conroy from earlier in the week noting of Palin, "In the last two weeks, Palin has fielded questions twice from the Palin traveling press corps on board the campaign plane, and on Sunday night, Palin took impromptu questions from reporters on the airport tarmac in Colorado Springs, Colo., on issues ranging from her thoughts on Colin Powell's endorsement of Obama to the role of robocalls in the election.  An hour later, she took questions again from the press pool during an unscheduled stop for ice cream before returning to her hotel for the night.  Palin has also become increasingly accessible to local and national media."
I wanted to take a moment and post, with her permission, an email we recieved from a supporter after a McCain event in Missouri. Thank you Melanie for your support, it is because of the support and activism of people like you that keeps this country great. Thank you for fighting for a better America. If you'd like to join Melanie and stand up for what's right for America, click here to take action today. Additionally, if you want to share your story from the campaign trail, please send them along to    
I had the honor to be seated right beside Senator John McCain today for an informal lunch in Columbia, Missouri. I can tell you that he is the real deal. We had an opportunity to ask him questions, share a few laughs and provide him with insight from fellow Americans. He listened, he provided us with real answers and I truly believe he not only has the experience and the right plan but also a big heart for America. The media was present when he first entered the room and then were asked to leave as we had lunch with him. He wasn't interested in pandering to the media. He instead wanted to spend time with the people. If you want to know his answers to questions regarding the economy, support of small businesses, job creation, national security, education funding, etc. let me know. I got the answers I needed. John McCain is the right choice.  
I have voted on both sides of the fence in the past, Democrat and Republican. I know what it's like to only have $30 to my name. I know what it's like to work hard to get a job. It took me 3 years to get the job I wanted as a teacher. I know what it's like to start a business from absolutely nothing. And I know what it's like to pay student loans for 15 years. Why? Because I believe in opportunity. I didn't ask for a hand-out. I just wanted the opportunity to use my skills, to help others and to provide for my family. Sound familiar to the rest of you? I bet we all have similar stories. America is a country of endless opportunities. We are not a country of hand-outs. We are a country of leg-ups. People...get the word out...we need a leader that has had more than 144 days of experience in the U.S. Senate. You are as good as your word. But actions speak louder than words. Honor, Honesty, Hard Work should matter... must matter.  
Columbia, Missouri 
Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate, Matt Gonzalez is his running mate.  Nader notes:
The three so-called presidential debates--really parallel interviews by reporters chosen by the Obama and McCain campaigns--are over and they are remarkable for two characteristics--convergence and avoidance.

A remarkable similarity between McCain and Obama on foreign and military policy kept enlarging as Obama seemed to enter into a clinch with McCain each time McCain questioned his inexperience or softness or using military force.

If anyone can detect a difference between the two candidates regarding belligerence toward Iran and Russia, more U.S. soldiers into the quagmire of Afghanistan (next to Pakistan), kneejerk support of the Israeli military oppression, brutalization and colonization of the Palestinians and their shrinking lands, keeping soldiers and bases in Iraq, despite Obama's use of the word "withdrawal," and their desire to enlarge an already bloated, wasteful military budget which already consumes half of the federal government's operating expenses, please illuminate the crevices between them.

This past spring, the foreign affairs reporters, not columnists, for the New York Times and the Washington Post concluded that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are advancing foreign and military policies similar to those adopted by George W. Bush in his second term.

Where then is the "hope" and "change" from the junior Senator from Illinois?

Moreover, both Obama and McCain want more nuclear power plants, more coal production, and more offshore oil drilling. Our national priority should be energy efficient consumer technologies (motor vehicles, heating, air conditioning and electric systems) and renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal.

Both support the gigantic taxpayer funded Wall Street bailout, without expressed amendments. Both support the notorious Patriot Act, the revised FISA act which opened the door to spy on Americans without judicial approval, and Obama agrees with McCain in vigorously opposing the impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

What about avoidance? Did you see them speak about a comprehensive enforcement program to prosecute corporate crooks in the midst of the greatest corporate crime wave in our history? Did you see them allude to doing anything about consumer protection (credit card gouging, price of medicines, the awful exploitation and deprivation of the people in the inner city) and the ripoffs of buyers in ever more obscure and inescapable ways?

Wasn't it remarkable how they never mentioned the poor, and only use the middle class when they refer to "regular people?" There are one hundred million poor people and children in this nation and no one in Washington, D.C. associates Senator Obama, much less John McCain, with any worthy program to treat the abundant poverty-related injustices.

What about labor issues? Worker health and safety, pensions looted and drained, growing permanent unemployment and underemployment, and outsourcing more and more jobs to fascists and communist dictatorships are not even on the peripheries of the topics covered in the debates.

When I was asked my opinion about who won the debates, I say they were not debates. But I know what won and what lost. The winners were big business, bailouts for Wall Street, an expansionary NATO, a boondoggle missile defense program, nuclear power, the military-industrial complex and its insatiable thirst for trillions of taxpayer dollars, for starters.

What lost was peace advocacy, international law, the Israeli-Palestinian peace movement, taxpayers, consumers, Africa and We the People.

The language of avoidance to address and challenge corporate power is spoken by both McCain and Obama, though interestingly enough, McCain occasionally uses words like "corporate greed" to describe his taking on the giant Boeing tanker contract with the Pentagon.

Funded by beer, tobacco, auto and telecommunications companies over the years, the corporation known as the Commission on Presidential Debates features only two corporate-funded candidates, excludes all others and closes off a major forum for smaller candidates, who are on a majority of the states, to reach tens of millions of voters.

In the future, this theatre of the absurd can be replaced with a grand coalition of national and local citizen groups who, starting in March, 2012 lay out many debates from Boston to San Diego, rural, suburban and urban, summon the presidential candidates to public auditoriums to react to the peoples' agendas.

Can the Democratic and Republican nominees reject this combination of labor, neighborhood, farmer, cooperative, veteran's, religious, student, consumer and good government with tens of millions of members? It will be interesting to see what happens if they do or if they do not.

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