News for the ‘politics’ Category

One Last Word For/From Nader

Well folks, in 42 minutes the polls close in St. Paul.  I know the majority of my friends voted for Obama and like most Democrats were a bit bemused and slightly irritated with my ongoing choice to vote for Ralph Nader.  Luckily I have a habit of amusing and annoying my friends so this is nothing new and no friendships are in jeopardy over these choices.  Thank God.

I’m not apologetic for my Ralph vote.  If McCain wins I’ll feel no shame or remorse.  My vote was not wasted.  I have not been overly vocal about my Nader support and I have no regrets over that.  It would’ve been good of me to spend an afternoon handing out fliers for the cause, but lately it’s been more important to hang out with my neighbors and try to get enough work to pay the mortgage.

I get a lot of e-mails from the Nader/Gonzalez campaign headquarters.  And I rarely pass them on, but today Nader sent an open letter to Obama and I’m posting it below.  He hits on a number of the reasons I’m uncomfortable with Obama and how his campaign was run.  It was a disgusting amount of money thrown at all of us in hopes of buying our allegiance.  He talked plenty about the middle class and little about the poor.  And as much as he talks of taking troops out of Iraq his approach to foreign policy doesn’t come off as being all that different than McCain’s.

If Obama wins, I wish him all the best.  But I hope he doesn’t assume every educated progressive change wanting american is going to blindly follow him.  Tomorrow isn’t the day to stop camaigning for what we beleive in, it’s just a day to refocus and raise our voices all the louder.  With that in mind here’s a copy of Nader’s letter. 

November 3, 2008

Open letter to Senator Barack Obama

Dear Senator Obama:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ralph Nader

Posted: November 4th, 2008
Categories: politics, third party
Comments: No Comments.



We have Flight of the Conchords on DVD and my wife is watching two of the many vice presidential candidates talk about how great they are and how they lame their opponent is.  That’s not a debate it’s a commercial.  I hate commercials. 

Here’s something they should debate:  How can McLame and Palin (comparison) both be Maverick?  One of them has to be Goose. 

Although now that I think about it Goose’s survival rate was a little less than stellar. 

That might inform the Goose/Maverick debate.

I’m going to go get some dry erase markers and decorate the candidates while they recite sound bytes.  super phun.

Posted: October 2nd, 2008
Categories: politics, third party
Comments: No Comments.

we need another option

 Is this why Obama and McPresident are afraid of a third debater?  Before they change the government they’ve got to change themselves.

Posted: September 24th, 2008
Categories: politics, third party
Comments: No Comments.

the farm

remember the farm?  didn’t they have the hit single ‘groovy train’?

My mom gave me the book ‘animal, vegetable, miracle’ by barbara kingsolver.  (if my name was barbara i’d spell it barabara.  looks cooler.)  It’s all about eating local for a year.  My mom started it and liked it but since she and my Dad were heading back to Kenya this morning she left it with Jodi and I because it doesn’t really have the same implications in East Africa as it does in Minnesota.  She figured we’d get more out of it and than she’ll get it back next time they’re on the continent.  Smart move Mom. 

I love B. Kingsolver (Her middle name must not start with a B or else she obviously would sign everything B. B. Kingsolver.  She’d write bluesier books too.)  This book is just as great as everything else of hers.  So far.  And it’s got me really excited for eating locally.  So excited in fact that I took Elsa to the Farmers market this morning and got a bunch of local produce.  I came home and told Jodi we’d be eating local this week.  She looked at what I got and said, “Yes you will be.”  Apparently my family is not as keen on living off of Eggplant, Collard Greens, and Jalepenos as I am. 

Yes they did.

Posted: September 13th, 2008
Categories: diy, edumacation, family, politics
Comments: 1 Comment.

the politics of Jesus

I’m sitting in AZ, much like I sat all the way to AZ. I just had some formula with my god daughter (p.s. she’s beautiful) (p.p.s. my formula and her formula are different. I call mine coffee. Later today we’ll each have a bottle, I’m guessing our bottles will be different too.)

While formulating, Amy (g-d’s mom) and I were talking about red-letter christians and she did a little googling and found Tony Campolo‘s site and in checking it out I made an amazing realization. Astounding. It’ll change the way you vote.

Like so many thinking Christians Tony makes the point that Jesus is not a Republican. Or a Democrat. But get this: No one has ruled out the Third Party.

Amen, Come Lord Jesus.

Posted: May 18th, 2008
Categories: politics
Comments: No Comments.

Political Junky Gone Wild

Boy oh boy, how about these elections? Raise your hand if you’re sick of politics. That was one out of every four readers. I know this because I’ve talked to all four of you in the past week. Take that social networking sites!

Since one of you is like me €“ sickopolitics- than it is my duty to support the underdog and convince the other three that they too should be sick.

This isn’t on my mind because of the ads or the articles or the Talk of the Day segments on NPR. It’s on my mind because I’ve been listening to the Dixie Chicks the last few days. Just think, if Natalie hadn’t spouted off a few years ago about our embarrassing excuse of a president they’d still be huge. Granted, maybe they are still huge. Just because I really like them doesn’t mean I’ve had time to keep on there fame ratings. I’m just saying I used to see them in EW and hear blurbs about them on the radio and what not, and though may radar signal is off kilter and ever weaker, I still think if they were doing big stuff I’d hear about them like I hear about Tim and Faith.

So if they’re as huge as ever never mind where I’m going with this.

But if they’re not then dig it. Great commercial country band puts out great commercial country albums, goes out great commercial international tour, makes comments about great commercial country government and gets pulled from great commercial radio stations with DJ’s that eat freedom fries. Sure it all happened years ago but that’s the part that gets me €“ still no recovery? That last album maybe wasn’t as great, and sure they got a little crazy with the eye makeup €“ but c’mon! They’re the Dixie Chicks! Put them in rotation for crying out loud.

Why the heck are we so defined by our politics? I don’t care what your political persuasion is, but stop putting all your hopes in multi-millionaire politicians that are telling you they care about the economy €“ now there’s someone who can identify with the working poor. Give me a break. We’ll get another president, he or she will be an improvement, he or she will not be Nader, but it doesn’t mean we can’t dream.

Today (and this will probably pass by morning) I could care less who the next president is. But I do care that as global citizens we stop putting all our effort into choosing a leader and start putting it into caring for our neighbors. And by neighbors I don’t mean the ‘other’ as lofty and theologically sound a term it might be. No, I mean our neighbors. The folks next door. Picking up trash off their lawn getting to know their kids and someday (we’re working towards this ourselves) sharing a meal. I think in a climate like this we would still listen to great bands make great music even if they do speak the truth. In fact in that climate I might even listen to ones that don’t, like Toby Keith. And me and T could be neighbors and I’d invite him over for lentils and brown rice. And he could bring a nice Jell-O salad. And I’d put on the Dixie Chicks and inevitably we’d start talking politics. And I would say, €œBush is a dumb ass, by his dumb ass hand we’ve ended up in a dumb ass war.€

Then TK would remark sarcastically, €œWould’ve been nice if Gore or Kerry could’ve outsmarted the dumb ass.€

And I’d reply, €œNader did, but unfortunately he couldn’t afford to be part of the free elections.€

Then TK would gracefully steer the conversation to more neighborly topics and ask for my curried lentil recipe. Because that’s the kind of neighbor Toby Keith is. And if I lived in a country like that I could care less who was president because there would be no he or she there would only be we.

We Rule!

Posted: April 10th, 2008
Categories: politics
Comments: No Comments.

Microphone races are coming to town

Here’s a bummer of a deal. I’ve lost my will to make money. Why’s that a bummer? In and of itself it’s not a bummer. Lots of people could care less about making money. But the vast majority of them are under the age of two. Once you hit the two year mark the 5,000 advertisements you see every day finally start to kick in and you want stuff that will make you want to watch more TV which will make you want more stuff. When is the last time you saw a useful advertisement for something you actually needed? Let me take a guess. Never. I think there was probably a time when we could legitimately benefit from an advertisement and back in that far off time ads were informative. But now, as we all know and often forget, the sole purpose of an ad is to create a need €“ no longer to inform us of what the product is capable of as it is to inform us of what losers we are if we don’t buy it now.

A friend of ours lives out in Virginia in a catholic worker house where they care for people and provide hospitality and protest all the things the rest of us are too busy to notice, all the while riding bikes and baking their own bread. Her house puts out a zine/newsletter called ‘joyful dissent’ and different folks in the community write little articles that inform and enlighten (and I’ll admit make me feel a little guilty at times). One of the highlights is a regular column by the Lesbian Ladies. And, like all the lesbians in my life, these ladies are freaking hilarious. Unfortunately I don’t remember any of the funny parts, or the smart wording that made this statement funny, but the other month they had a line in their that read something like, ‘America’s already bought everything.’ See, when I write it it’s not funny but trust me in the context of their article it was hilarious and true. In the misshapen paraphrase above it’s only true.

Here’s one way I know this is true. Bicycles. I just got done organizing my garage because I had to make room for a couple more bikes. I now have seven. My daughter’s have four. My wife has one. That makes for 12 bicycles in our garage. Plus a jogging stroller and a bike trailer. Out of the 12 bikes only one was bought new, and that was 5 years ago when two of our bikes were stolen. Out of the remaining 11 one was bought used (as were the trailer and jogger). The remaining 10 were all free. They all have taken and will take a bit of work, and a few bucks in new parts but honestly if some goof ball like myself can amass 10 free bikes in the course of a year (in fact a year ago I gave a couple bikes away in a futile effort to downsize) how can any of us justify buying more new bikes? And then (and this only works for me because I like to make broad sweeping generalizations and use Bush like logic) why in the heck do we need to buy anything new?

Because we take in close to 8,000 advertisements a day, thats why.

And because it’s hard to find second hand socks and underwear. And even if you could find it your wife wouldn’t let you buy it. At least that’s been my experience. It’s also sometimes hard to find used shoes. Sometimes it means wearing a size 14 instead of a 12. But they were only 3 bucks and I needed leather tops for my welding class. But I digress. Let’s get back to the issue €“ I lost the will to make money. This is a problem for 3 reasons:

  1. Groceries

  2. Mortgage

  3. Health Insurance

If we could get past those I’d be fine. In fact we’d all be fine. And we’d all be riding around on old beautiful bikes. If you have solutions to these problems please get back to me asap. And if I try your solution and it works my wife would like to reward with 10 free bikes and some slightly discolored boxers I bought at Goodwill.

Posted: April 10th, 2008
Categories: bike, politics
Comments: No Comments.

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