Confessions of Dick Cheney





Dick Cheney Interview ABC News

Cheney Aware of Gitmo Waterboarding

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

There was a break in the news.  On Cable News Network Wolf Blitzer was noticeably moved.  He excitedly reported; Dick Cheney confessed.  Broadcaster Blitzer’s words were a bit more tempered.  He said, “This just coming into The Situation Room.  The Vice President, Dick Cheney, has given ABC News an interview and confirming now publicly that the Bush administration did engage in the very controversial interrogation tactic of waterboarding.”  The Commentator then asked America to listen to the clip.  ABC News Correspondent Jonathan Karl inquired of the outgoing high-level government official, “Did you authorize the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?”  Without hesitation, the Vice President responded.  “I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the — the process cleared, as the agency, in effect, came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn’t do.  . . .  (T)hey talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do.  And I supported it.  

Viewers vented.  Some shifted nervously in their seats.  However, The Judicial Watch was not amused.  Nor were they elated.  The answer was not the one this Conservative organization, hoped for, groped for, and searched for though the courts, for all these many years.  Vice President Cheney did not confess to sins conceived long before September 11, 2001.  He told said nothing of the maps and charts of Iraqi oil fields.  Foreign suitors for Iraqi oilfield contracts were not discussed as they had been in March 5, 2001, six months and six days before the infamous September 11 attacks.

No, Dick Cheney, spoke of none of what might have interested Judicial Watch.  Perchance, those involved with this institute listened and wondered of the Iraq oil map. would the Vice President confess to knowledge of these?  From appearances, it seemed he would not.

Seeming pleased with his decision and participation, the man second to the Commander-In-Chief avowed, “It’s been a remarkably successful effort and I think the results speak for themselves.”  Indeed, the consequences do speak volumes, as does Dick Cheney’s willingness to disclose what for so long has been an elusive truth.  Yet, a few wondered; was this statement a confession, or merely a confirmation of what had long been known, an acknowledgment of sorts?

As the words tripped off Dick Cheney’s tongue, the public began to talk.  Millions were ecstatic.  He admitted it, they declared.  Throughout cyberspace and in local communities people were all abuzz.  Announcers throughout the airwaves and people on the streets pondered.  “Did he just say that?”  The answer was, of course he did.  Richard Bruce Cheney knew, as he has reason to understand.  He is indeed, above the law.  A myriad of moments affirmed this for him.  Given years of opportunities, the Democrats consistently have chosen not to touch him.

Oh, a few tried.  More might insist that Dick Cheney be removed from office, just as many attested to the need to indict the President.  However, nothing was done.  

Former Senator and nominee for the President, George McGovern could not convince the Democratic leadership.  Florida Congressman Robert Wexler actively campaigned to, at least, begin hearings.  In November 6, 2007 Dennis Kucinich offered a Privileged Resolution in his attempt to avail the Congress of the need to censure Cheney.  However, the Democrats averted the opportunity.

Hence, Dick Cheney trusted he was safe to speak of virtually anything.  Specifically, the Vice President was certain he was safe to discuss his role in ‘purposeful persecution.’  Mister Cheney recalled that the Democrats decreed by their silence that torture was sanctioned.  In reality, Progressives presented the President and his Cabinet with a dictum of faith in the practice.  Those who supposedly sit on the Left side of the aisle signed, sealed, and delivered a permission slip for abusive behaviors on the part of Americans in December 2002, almost six years to the day from what some had hoped was a confession.

The news today that leading Democrats, including Jane Harman and Nancy Pelosi, were informed about the torture of military prisoners and allegedly didn’t just acquiesce but actually approved it is not something that particularly surprises.  The descent into war crimes under this administration provoked very little public Democratic anger or resistance for the years in which it was used most promiscuously.  The presidential campaign of John Kerry offered only token opposition.  The subject never came up in a single presidential debate in 2004.  And the way in which the torture issue has subsequently been raised by Democrats bespeaks opportunism as much as principled outrage and opposition.

What was perhaps more extraordinary and less discussed from the ABC interview was the anomalous question posed to a reflective Vice President Cheney, had he changed.  Earlier in the interview, Dick Cheney had offered that the 9-11 terrorist attacks had definitely became “a prime motivation” for his future decisions.  He said, the events that occurred on that September day in 2001 ‘critically shaped his actions in the years that followed.’  Yet, concurrently, he attested to the fact he had not changed.  

Dick Cheney’s answer was accurate and insincere, all in the same breath.  Judicial Watch, Incorporated, “a Conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, [which] promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government,” might say this man is a marvel, an artist, and an articulate obfuscator.  Judicial Watch should know.  

When the Bush Administration formed the National Energy Policy Development Group and then proceeded to hold meetings in private, Judicial Watch sensed a clear violation of the Freedom of Information Act.  The foundation took legal actions.  “Unfortunately, on May 9, 2005, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the Vice President’s Energy Task Force did not have to comply with the Federal Advisory Act.”

Hence, with a history of the Democrats and the Courts on Cheney’s side the man felt no compunction to share what might have caused some havoc, were there any mayhem to be had by opponents of the Administration.  Jonathan Karl, the ABC News Journalist, who some thought captured a confession on tape affirmed and asked for another perchance candid comment,  Mister Karl stated, “You probably saw Karl Rove last week said that if the intelligence had been correct, we probably would not have gone to war.”  He was greeted with what is arguably not a confession; nor is the retort correct, or incorrect.

Cheney: I disagree with that.

This portion of the answer is true.  Dick Cheney did differ with the notion that, were the intelligence correct, the United States would not have gone to war with Iraq.  However, his reason was not as he went on to state.  Stockpiles, an intent on the part of Saddam Hussein to supply terrorist organizations with arms or money did not incite the Vice President or likely the Administration.  Granted, Dick Cheney did and does believe as he shared on air.

This was a bad actor and the country’s better off, the world’s better off, with Saddam gone, and I think we made the right decision, in spite of the fact that the original NIE was off in some of its major judgments.

What the Vice President neglected to say was what the Courts ruled he did not need to reveal.  ““Executive privilege was improperly invoked by Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and now the Bush administration,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton stated.  No, Dick Cheney did not, would not say that.  A confession of such clarity certainly would not come from this public servant, at least not yet.  That admission would be breaking news.  Cable News Network Wolf Blitzer and every other Broadcaster, were that declaration of guilt to occur, would have a real reason to be excited.  The Judicial Watch Educational Foundation would be elated.  Were that to happen, perchance, the American people would be moved to finally act.  For now, the public acquiesces while they sit and await an authentic confession.

Confessions and Concessions . . .

Impeachment, “Off the Table” and On the House Floor



Kucinich Impeachment Articles mention RAW STORY

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may say impeachment is off the table; nonetheless, on June 9, 2008, Congressman Dennis Kucinich placed it on the floor.  For five hours, the Ohio Representative stood before his colleagues and an expectant  national audience.  Kucinich spoke of what has remained unmentionable for far too long.  The President of the United States of America has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.  

The contents of thirty-five articles affirmed President George W. Bush deceived the nation.  Congressman Kucinich contends, the President violated his oath of office.  The Commander-In-Chief led our country into the Iraq war under false pretenses.  

On hundreds of occasions, George W. Bush made use of signing statements.  These declarations allowed the Administration to disobey laws.  With the stroke of a pen, the President proclaimed a ban on torture was extraneous to his reality.  Mister Bush decided to shun provisions he endorsed and proposed when he explained the need for a Patriot Act.  The list of laws George W. Bush disregarded is extensive.

A year ago, the Ohio Congressman and former Presidential hopeful, introduced a resolution to censure Vice President Dick Cheney.  Dennis Kucinich understood that this Vice President exerted more power than any other person who previously held his position.  Indeed some argue, Dick Cheney is more if not equally culpable for crimes enacted by the Executive Branch.  The resolution censure Cheney was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.  Thus far, no action has been taken on the motion.  

However, members of the Committee have verbalized their support.  Florida Representative Robert Wexler, Congressman Luis Gutierrez from Illinois, and Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin vehemently called for hearings.  The three believe as does Dennis Kucinich does, grounds for an arraignment are sufficient.  For these outspoken Representatives, Vice President, Richard Cheney, along with the President, George W. Bush violated the War Crimes Act of 1996.  They ignored the anti-torture Act.  Bush and Cheney authorized the abuse of detainees, who have been illegally held at the Guantanamo Bay Prison Camp.

The President and Vice President repeatedly sullied the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  This law requires court approval for presidential wiretaps.  None were obtained before millions of Americans telephones were bugged.  The President defiantly dismisses any public concern.  He has no problem with deferring the public’s right to privacy.

Early in their joint terms, George Bush and Dick Cheney warned, there was an eminent threat of a nuclear attack.  They said the United States was in danger of inhalation.  Desirous of oil in the Middle East, Texas tea tycoons alleged Saddam Hussein purchased uranium in Niger.  Evidence furnished by envoy, Joseph Wilson validated this was not true.  Nonetheless, the Chief Executive and his chum declared the leader of Iraq wanted aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment.  George W. Bush and Richard Cheney understood the claims were fallacious.  The two Executives would take care of any attempt to present accurate information to the people.  The Administration would destroy the messenger.

Mister Bush and Mister Cheney were aware that others within their Administration questioned the validity of Intelligence Reports, which stated a need for concern in reference to Iraq.  At least one, former Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to convince the President and his Vice an attack on Iraq was unadvisable.  Not to be dissuaded, the two “leaders’ withheld facts form the public.  The Administration purposely warped the data in an attempt to usurp Congress’ Constitutional powers to declare war.

Yet, regardless of the volumes of reports released over the course of many years, Congressman Kucinich and those on the Judiciary Committee who support censure, have much opposition.

Former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, who served on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment of Richard Nixon, does not disagree with the Representatives who endorse impeachment of the current Administration.  Conservative Constitutional Scholar Bruce Fein, a Republican who served in the Reagan Justice Department does not quarrel with the need to commence hearings.  Former Senator and Democratic presidential nominee, George McGovern published an op-ed, demanding impeachment proceedings for both Bush and Cheney.  None of these esteemed individuals question the motivation or the measure.

The only deterrent to the necessary action is found on Capitol Hill.  Politically savvy officials in the nation’s Capitol choose to set a precedent that historians’ caution is unwise.  Elizabeth Holtzman states.

Whether or not they bring electoral rewards in 2008, impeachment proceedings are the right thing to do.  They will help curb the serious abuses of this administration, and send a strong message to future administrations that no president or vice president is above the law.

Sadly, her words will not be heard on heeded.  Too many Democrats and Republicans have become deaf and dumb to the proper rule of law.  For too long, average Americans and elected officials trusted the Chief Executive.  They allowed themselves to be persuaded by a unscrupulous President and his Vice.  

The people may no longer have faith.  Perhaps, the public is just too embarrassed to face the fire.  The adage heard in the halls of Congress and on the streets of many a city is, “We hired them.  If we dismiss the two, what might that say of our judgment.”  Hence, Americans lay bare the lie, we have learned nothing from history.

A vote on the Resolution is expected on June 11, 2008.  Those in support of impeachment can only hope our Representatives will act more responsibly than we, the American people, or our Administration has.

References for what might never be officially realized . . .

 

Shame on Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton. A Shame for Americans

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Shame seems to be the issue of the day.  The North America Free Trade Agreement is also among the topics discussed.  Health Care plans are reviewed.  As the Presidential campaigns progress, let us reflect, and recall why these matters move the media and the people.

It was a cold day in January.  The year 2007, after much debate and ample discussions, Hillary Rodham Clinton concluded the time was now.  The climate was ideal.  The former First Lady sat poised on a couch.  The colors in the room were warm.  A lamp placed behind the sofa was lit.  Sunlight streamed into the room.  Photographs of the family were visible on a table nearby.  Finally, the stage was set.  The New York Senator looked into the eyes of her visitors.  Gently she smiled.  Hillary Rodham Clinton opened her home and her heart to an American audience desirous of change.  The woman many had hoped would be the first woman President of the United States affirmed “I’m in.”

Hillary Clinton invited us all to join her in a conversation.  She mused, she had a feeling; it was going to be very interesting.  Indeed, it is.  Weeks ago, the candidate realized a deep dip in the contributions.  This drop in donations caused much clamor.  On February 21, 2008, during the Democratic Debate, First Lady Clinton offered her admiration to the man who appeared to be more prominent in the eyes of the people, Barack Obama.  Then, a mere forty-eight hours later Hillary Clinton attacked her adversary.  

The Senator from New York claimed, while in the crowd at an event in Cincinnati, Ohio, just days prior to that State’s primary, she was handed two mailers.  A brilliant woman, organized, and aware, ready to take on the responsibilities of the Oval Office the day she crosses the threshold, did not realize that ten days earlier, the Ohio Daily Blog published an essay which spoke of the brochures.  Jeff received his copies.  Yet, Hillary had not yet sampled hers.  

The experienced, professional politician fumed as she spoke, of the accounts.  As a mother scolding her child potential President Hillary Clinton shrieked, “Shame on you Barack Obama!”  The genteel First Lady pointed her finger and challenged her rival Senator Obama to “meet me in Ohio, and let’s have a debate about your tactics and your behavior in this campaign.”

As Americans listen to the words of the woman we once thought would receive her just coronation into the White House, we are reminded, this political campaign has never truly been about issues.  Personality, popularity, electability, and the ability to connect to wealthy contributors have long been the focus among the candidates and by extension the electorate.  Voters are subject to the voice of those who speak of what is important to them personally.  We might recall the times a candidate or two expressed what is true.  For them, this campaign is personal, full of personal attacks.

A day later, the Clinton Camp announced they would engage in a calculated campaign of smear.  Conduct unbecoming a possible Commander-In-Chief, when named Barack Obama is quite befitting of a potential President Clinton.

In the robo-call voiced by Clinton, she said she wants to set the record straight.  “Sen. Obama has sent out attack mailers that distort my record on NAFTA, but I believe Ohio deserves the truth,” Clinton says, “NAFTA has hurt Ohio families and I have a plan to fix it.  My opponent does not.  I’ll appoint a Trade Prosecutor to enforce our trade agreements, and crackdown on China’s unfair trade practices.  I’ll eliminate tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and invest in creating good jobs right here in Ohio.”

The Clinton attack mailer cites press reports of Obama praising NAFTA and other trade deals.  “Don’t be fooled by Barack Obama.” [or Hillary Clinton?]

Might we take a moment to reflect.  Let us begin with the records.  The text of Barack Obama comments may enlighten us on the issue of tactics and behavior, the topics Hillary Clinton would like to discuss in an Ohio debate.  The background also offers insights.

(Alan Keyes wanted to withdraw completely from trade agreements.) “Keyes, the Republican nominee, said the United States should move away from negotiating multinational trade agreements, arguing the country can cut better deals by bargaining one-on-one and imposing tariffs on countries that undercut American farmers with cheap products. ‘Why is it in American economics that you say ‘tariffs’ and everybody thinks you cursed,’ Keyes said. ‘We need to make sure we get a fair deal.’ He also called for complete elimination of the inheritance taxes, as well as the income tax.

“But Democrat Obama said Keyes’ ideas could lead to trade wars that would harm farmers, who are always looking for new markets willing to buy American crops. He said the United State should continue to work with the World Trade Organization and pursue deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, but the country must be more aggressive about protecting American interests. ‘We don’t want to set off trade wars. What we want to make sure of is that our farmers are treated fairly,’ Obama said. ‘The problem in a lot of our trade agreements is that the administration tends to negotiate on behalf of multinational companies instead of workers and communities.'” (AP, 9/8/04)

Hillary Clinton took a stand on the North American Free Trade Agreement and has for years.  The Former First Lady spoke in support of her husband’s Bill’s legendary policy.

Clinton promoted her husband’s trade agenda for years, and friends say that she’s a free-trader at heart. “The simple fact is, nations with free-market systems do better,” she said in a 1997 speech to the Corporate Council on Africa. “Look around the globe: Those nations, which have lowered trade barriers, are prospering more than those that have not.”

Praise for Nafta

At the 1998 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, she praised corporations for mounting “a very effective business effort in the U.S. on behalf of Nafta.” She added: “It is certainly clear that we have not by any means finished the job that has begun.”

Clinton “is committed to free trade and to the growing role of the international economy,” said Steven Rattner, a Clinton fundraiser and co-founder of Quadrangle Group LLC, a New York buyout firm. “She would absolutely do the right thing as president.”

However, as Hillary Clinton herself reminds us, speeches are not solutions.  While at a General Motors plant, the Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton proposes, “That’s the difference between me and my opponent, I offer solutions. It’s one thing to get people excited.  I want to empower you to live your dreams so we can all go forward together.”

“Now, over the years, you’ve heard plenty of promises from plenty of people in plenty of speeches. And some of those speeches were probably pretty good. But speeches don’t put food on the table. Speeches don’t fill up your tank, or fill your prescription or do anything about that stack of bills that keeps you up at night.”  Only jobs and a stable income can keep Americans safe and secure; hence, the need for American policymakers to assess the North American Free Trade Agreement.  As Senator, Clinton could finally take actions that would rescind a policy that haunts her husband and his heritage.  Thus, she did or did not.  Please ponder the documentation.

  • Voted against CAFTA despite Bill Clinton’s pushing NAFTA. (Oct 2005)
  • Voted YES on free trade agreement with Oman. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted NO on implementing CAFTA for Central America free-trade. (Jul 2005)
  • Voted YES on establishing free trade between US & Singapore. (Jul 2003)
  • Voted YES on establishing free trade between the US and Chile. (Jul 2003)
  • Voted NO on extending free trade to Andean nations. (May 2002)
  • Voted YES on granting normal trade relations status to Vietnam. (Oct 2001)
  • Voted YES on removing common goods from national security export rules. (Sep 2001)
  • Rated 17% by CATO, indicating a pro-fair trade voting record. (Dec 2002)

What is a voter to think?  Hillary Clinton Biographer Carl Bernstein avows, Hillary Clinton’s economics, the ones she preached to her husband in the White House are much closer to John Edwards then you would think. She argued with Bill Clinton when she was First Lady, her husband, she said ‘Bill, you are doing Republican economics when you are doing NAFTA.’ She was against NAFTA.  Yet, as the author expresses in his own assessment of the candidate . . .

A new biography’s unflattering portrayal of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton as someone who “camouflages” her real self for political gain is starting to attract attention – and not for the salacious stories, most books recount about the Clintons.

“A Woman in Charge,” by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein, gives scant attention to the tense days the former First Lady spent in the White House when Bill Clinton was sneaking around with his intern, Monica Lewinsky. Instead, the former Washington Post reporter, who helped blow the lid off Watergate, attempts to portray Hillary Clinton as someone who is willing to rewrite her own history to advance the political career she put on hold when she moved to Arkansas with her college sweetheart who would later become president.

“This is a woman who led a camouflaged life and continues to,” Bernstein told TODAY host Matt Lauer on Friday in an exclusive interview. “This book takes away that camouflage.”

The Bernstein book, which the writer refers to as the first “real biography” of Hillary Clinton, is a recent edition. There is ample, additional information; Hillary Clinton was for, no against, the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA].  Hence, again, we can only do as Hillary advises; look at the votes for verification.  As we observe, duplicity and a commitment to convenience, seem apparent.

This inconsistent configuration is no less obvious in the banter and behavior of Barack Obama. The expressions of Barack Obama and the conduct of Hillary Clinton are, as the First Lady imagined them to be many months ago, interesting.  

Words are not separate from work, whether we speak of one candidate or the other.  Even constituents can be considered complex beings.  We have wants, needs, among these are Universal Health Care.  Barack Obama understood this on that cold frigid day in Springfield, Illinois.  In February, on the 10th day of the month, in the year 2007, Illinois Senator Barack Obama stood in front of the Old State Capitol building.   A throng of supporters frozen; yet full of fervor positioned themselves where they could best see the man they admired.

Dignified as he spoke Presidential hopeful Obama reminded Americans that more than a century ago, on these same steps, Abraham Lincoln called on a divided house to stand together.  Barack Obama stated that in Springfield, Illinois he learned that “common hopes and common dreams still” live.  Then, the man who speaks and writes of the audacity of hope offered . . .

I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States. . .

Let’s be the generation that finally tackles our health care crisis. We can control costs by focusing on prevention, by providing better treatment to the chronically ill, and using technology to cut the bureaucracy. Let’s be the generation that says right here, right now, that we will have universal health care in America by the end of the next president’s first term.

Yes, we can . . .  be the generation that declares we will provide medical coverage for one and for all.  Yet, Barack Obama is, as of yet unwilling to propose that we, the people be insured equally.  Senator Obama, has not worked towards Universal Health Care.  Indeed, he argues against it, and presents a proviso, the plan may changed if need be.

Like former senator John Edwards (N.C.), who outlined his health-care goals in February, Obama would pay for his plan, which could cost more than $50 billion, by increasing taxes for people earning more than $250,000 and reversing tax cuts that President Bush approved. Obama would require almost all employers to offer insurance to workers or face a tax penalty, an idea that many businesses abhor and that is also in Edwards’s proposal. This employer mandate drove much of the opposition to the Clinton plan in 1994.

Like Clinton, who in a speech last week laid out some of her health-care ideas, Obama is focused as much on reducing the costs for those who are insured as on expanding coverage to the estimated 45 million Americans who are not. He called for the federal government to pay part of the costs for patients with chronic illnesses, so that employers would not have to do so, but also emphasized the importance of preventive care. It is important to “listen to our wives when they tell us to stop smoking,” he said, referring to his own unhealthy habit.

Like many Democratic politicians, he blamed drug and health insurance companies for stopping the passage of more expansive health-care proposals.

The lack of new ideas in Obama’s health plan in part reflects his approach. He has emphasized his freshness as a rationale for his candidacy, but that freshness has been much more about his tone and his rhetoric about hope and bipartisanship than his policy proposals . . .

One concept that Obama’s plan does not include is a popular idea from both Democrats and Republicans who work on health-care issues: an “individual mandate” that would require every American to buy health insurance.  . . .

The Clinton and Edwards campaigns quickly criticized Obama for not offering a plan that would require insurance for all. ” . . .

Obama’s advisers argued that such a mandate is less important than adding subsidies and other ways to make health care more affordable.  . . .

“The key is not the mandate,” said David Cutler, an economics professor at Harvard, who advised Obama on the plan. “It’s the affordability and the accessibility.”

It seems Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, neither of whom offer a Single Payer, Not For Profit, Universal Health Care can tout as they do with credibility.  Each vocalizes, “I will be the people’s President.”  Yet, as the nation peruses the plans it remains evident, that if either of these aspirants [or the Republican rival] enters the Oval Office in 2009, all men will remain unequal.  Those who lost jobs to Free Trade agreements will likely remain unemployed or become underemployed.  Circumstances for the constituents will continue to be dire.  Millions of citizens will be unable to afford or access medical care at any cost, to say nothing of the twelve or more million migrants who go without health care.  Mailers be damned.  Shame on Barack Obama?  Shame on Hillary Clinton?  It is a shame that the people were never given a voice or entrée into the election.  

Dennis Kucinich, potential President of the people, a live-time Union member, the one person to actively propose an end to the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA], the war in Iraq [remember that refrain?], and Single Payer, Not For Profit, Universal Health Care, I miss you.

Sources of Shame . . .

Chicken Little Cries; “We Have No Choice.” Kucinich Locked Out

copyright © 2007. Betsy L. Angert

Americans acknowledge “The sky is falling.”  We, the people must unite and take our country back.  Democrats must choose the most desirable candidate.  The best candidate is defined as the one who can win the White House.  The Top Three are fine; perhaps, not as good as, they could be, but they will do the job.  Dennis Kucinich, for many is ideal.  His proposals are well thought out and he fully addresses the issues that affect the common folk.  However, Americans hear at every turn, Dennis Kucinich does not have a chance.  

Presidential aspirant Kucinich was excluded from  the American Association for Retired Persons [AARP] debate in the Hawkeye State. In Granite country, ABC News declared Dennis Kucinich would be barred from the dialogue.  Silver State voters were not able to see the profound Presidential hopeful on stage.  He was relegated to the streets allowed to speak only to the neon lights.  The Palmetto State decreed, “Dennis, this is not your kingdom.”  Indeed, you are locked out in this land of liberty.  Now, Texas tells its tall tale.  Dennis Kucinich will not be the hero in the Lone Star State.

The consensus amongst those whose capital counts votes is, it is important to win the White House.  Dennis Kucinich and his supporters only slow the process.  Actually, they threaten the comfort that is the status quo.  While many Progressives hesitantly accept this may be true,; nonetheless, these Democrats who seek change state, we must do as we have done before.  We need to unite behind a single candidate, two, or three.  Choose from those who have a chance to “beat” the brutal Republicans, and then, once the field is narrowed, all Democrats must vote for the nominee.

After all, there is war in the Middle East.  Iraq and Afghanistan have been torn asunder.  Iran may be next.  Israel is unstable.  North Korea is a concern.  We must not forget Lebanon, and our own shores.  No one is safe or secure.

Here at home, the Health Care system is in shambles.  Jobs have gone aboard.  The stock market is down.  Morale is low.  The economy is in the tank.  Fuel costs are high, as is rage among the American populace.  It is time for a change.  Democrats need to take the country back if we are to survive.  If the Republicans “win” the White House, the average American will be locked out.  The people cannot be treated as Dennis Kucinich has been.

Kucinich supporters must face the facts.  Come in from the cold.  Forget their commitment to principles that honor all people equally.  Those devoted to the common cause must be sensible.  If the Democrats are to triumph, every Progressive must accept that America may be at war in Iraq through at least 2013.  If those on the Left wish to be victorious we must follow the Clinton, Obama, or even Edwards lead.  If that means more troops are sent to Afghanistan, so be it.  We Liberals have to submit to the notion that a Single Payer, Not For Profit Heath Care plan will not be in our future.  If Insurers and Pharmaceuticals still decide for us, oh well.  At least a Democrat will be in the Oval Office,

Remember the math, 1+1=2.  Facts are facts.  Philosophical arguments are useless; they are merely a waste of time.  If you vote for potential President Dennis Kucinich, you just throw away your ballot, and forfeit our chance to win.  Hence, Progressives, Liberal, Democrats unite.  

Each day, as Elections approach, Democratic Americans join arms.  In Iowa, citizens held hands as they caucused.  In New Hampshire, constituents came together to cast their ballots.  Nevada and Michigan residents had their turn.  Voters determined who might represent them.  In South Carolina Republicans rekindled their zeal for democracy.  Days from now, Democrats will do the same in that southern region.  

Throughout the territory, Americans take advantage of every opportunity to be informed.  Inhabitants in the first primary States became personally acquainted with the aspirants.  In every locale people sit around television sets and watch the Presidential hopefuls debate.  The populace truly makes an informed decision, or so we are lead to believe.  Yet, in a nation where corporate moguls with mountains of money own the airwaves, and the companies that supply our medical, mechanical, and mundane needs dictate what is advisable, the people do not have the freedoms they could have.

Americans know this.  Common folks understand all too well, we do not have access to information.  Americans remember the false intelligence that led us into the Iraq War.  Each of us recalls the atrocities hidden from view.  The body bags flown into Dover Air Force Base in the dead of night were sadly not a dream.  The Human Rights violations witnessed belatedly through photographs too long suppressed, from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay prison were a glimpse into stark reality of what is.

The people speak out; yet, they remain silenced, and powerless.  In part, as Americans we have learned to accept that we alone can do little.  We are convinced not to vote for our convictions, but to cast a ballot for the presumed electable, corporate determined, candidate.  

There is reason to believe that there is strength in numbers, and there is.  However, if we consider the large numbers of us who do not follow the wisdom within, our perspective changes.  When one-by-one we  relent, and become part of the mass movement, then we as a whole settle for less than what might have been.  When the Party nominee is the person, who from the first, we fully endorse, whose proposed policies we truly support, then there is no problem.  We can follow the lead of our allegiance.

However, when the person who best represents our authentic principles, from the beginning has been locked out, and declared “not viable,” when that individual is unknown to most Americans, and is not placed on many a ballot, we must decide whether we will submit, and settle for what is available to us.

Many ask Kucinich supporters not to vote for principles, for a person emblematic of all that they value.  Those who wish to see Dennis Kucinich in the Oval Office on January 20, 2009, are told to endorse a chosen candidate, one the Party leaders, and the media deem electable.  

Liberal Progressives receive requests, “Ignore the fact that Big Three are each tied to profiteers.”  We can only expect so much.  If we are to be good Democrats, we must make sure that Republicans do not take office.  That is of utmost importance.  It matters not that the Party’s, neither of them, act in the interest of the average Joe or Joanne.

Sure, they say . . . “A national Single Payer, Not for Profit Health care would be nice.  An immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq would be welcome. No war with Iran, ah, but to hope.  The promise of a repeal of the Patriot Act and the restoration of civil liberties . . .Well, we can only imagine. To think the United States might cancel the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] and the rebuild the auto, steel, aerospace, shipping, and manufacturing industries . . . dare we dream. Could we possibly initiate carbon-free and nuclear-free energy policies.  One can only wonder.”

Those who believe that what we conceive, we can achieve know that with Dennis Kucinich, in the White House all this would be possible.

Yet, supporters, such as I, feel as a lone Chicken Little the smallest voice among the dissenters.  I cry in fear as do my fellow Democrats, “The sky is falling.  The sky is falling.”  Progressives say they have heard that before and while they believe it to be true, an umbrella will protect them.  I think not.

For me, a small cloth collapsible canopy made of thin fabric will not shield me from harm.  I have tried to safeguard my brethren and myself for years.  Many of my ballots were parachutes intended to slow the fall.  However, none truly did a adequate job.  The wind and watershed of the wealthy who control the economy and the agenda always had their way.

My lovable eighty-nine year young cousin mused aloud of his near century of votes.  He reflected, throughout his adult life only once has he voted for a Presidential candidate who spoke to his ethics, beliefs, and humane principles.  In his days as a voter, he did as people have done.  He cast a ballot against the Presidential candidate he thought worse for the nation, for the world.  In each of the decades that my relative was able to vote, he did not feel the person he cast a ballot for in the general election was the quality candidate America needed.  The nominees were corrupt, or tied to powers-that-be. The interests of the people were ignored, and consistently, while change was promised, the average American did not benefit.

I offer the reflections of another frustrated citizen who cares, who observes his choice for President and our dreams are being crushed.  Michael Collins, I thank you.


“Chain, Chain, Chain …” The Texas Primary



Forced Loyalty Oath Locks Out Kucinich

By Michael Collins

“Scoop” Independent News

January 19, 2008

Dennis Kucinich may not win the Democratic nomination for president, but he’s leaving a pro-democracy legacy across the country. To begin with, this candidate actually discusses critical issues demonstrating his respect for voters. With regard to the voters’ right to know, he just asked for the first recount in memory for a presidential primary simply because it makes perfect sense. The New Hampshire results need a serious second look.

Kucinich struck another blow for democracy by challenging the restrictive loyalty oath required by the Texas Democratic Party to get on the primary ballot. He actually reads the contracts he signs. When presented with the loyalty oath required to run as a Democrat in the Texas primary, Kucinich prudently edited the document to reflect the requirements of free citizens living in a democracy: . . .

The concern expressed by Kucinich was simple. If the eventual Democratic nominee supports the Iraq War, signing this oath would require Kucinich to support that nominee and therefore the war. To make matters worse, supporting the war would negate his duty as a Member of Congress to protect and uphold the Constitution. Like a few others, Kucinich knows that this is an unconstitutional war since it was never declared by Congress (See Article I, Section 8, “To declare war”). What other choice did he have but to reject the loyalty oath? What justification did the other candidates have to accept the oath? . . .

Democracy’s Champion among the Candidates ??

Dennis Kucinich is the one consistent advocate for expanded democracy and measures to fight election fraud among all of the presidential contenders. Kucinich has a strong record as an advocate for working men and women by promoting civil rights, voting rights, and human rights at home and abroad. He’s never shied away from taking both principled and practical positions on elections. These are, after all, the essential element to achieve his goals.

His call for a recount in New Hampshire was without rancor or negative speculation. He simply recognized the problem, invoked the right to recount, and paid the bill. . .

From his first days on the national stage, Kucinich has stood for the people and against the interests of greed and exploitation. In return for his efforts, he’s been ridiculed and marginalized.

Imagine, a man who fights for the people, the Constitution, the rights of all Americans, and for this reason is intentionally removed from view.  Then, envision that same quality person seated in the White House, having been elected by an educated electorate.  Oh, I do dream of the time when a President of the United States represents the common folk.  I also understand, that if I,  join with all other Democratic Americans and vote for the candidate that is thought to be  the lesser of the “evils,” then I will have helped  my fellow countrymen to get what we have had for all the years that my eighty-nine year young cousin recalls.  

I will not contribute to change if I concede Dennis Kucinich cannot be my candidate of choice.  I will have simply surrendered to the status quo.

Mahatma Gandhi teaches, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Perchance, if we wish to expect a different outcome from elections we must not do as voters have done for at least a century. .  Open-minded Progressives may wish to consider, facts, as we know them only prove what we already believe.  Mathematicians may discover that just as the sum of angles of a triangle in a three dimensional plane do not total 180 degrees, if we do as we have never thought to do, we may realize 1+1 does not always equal 2.  Perhaps, if we change, so too will the State of the Union.  Indeed, America may actually become a nation where all men, women, and children are created equal.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

~ Albert Einstein [American Physicist]



Dennis Kucinich (D) on Texas Democrats loyalty oath

When We Are the Change . . .

Clinton And Obama Call For Truce; Racism Battles On



Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Contest Toledo, Ohio 2000

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

On the first day of the New Year, a banner headline screamed to elite readers of The Wall Street Journal, “What Kucinich Saw: Witnesses Described His Close Encounter.”  Murdoch News Corporation Journalist, Michael M. Phillips offered what booklovers yearn to learn, the personal history of each of the players in a Presidential campaign.  Tall tales and tittle-tattle capture the attention of Americans.  The substantive information provided in these yarns, is scant.  Nonetheless, the entertainment value is vast.  An expectant public wants the dirt.  We are happy to sling mud and spit in the face of historical leaders.  

It is far easier, and perhaps more pleasurable to speak superfluously than it is to delve into the real issues.  The effects of economy on the average American, the wars and the carnage that is expected to continue long into the future, health care, expensive and inadequate as it is, and especially racism are thought too delicate to fully discus.  This truth was made more obvious, when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama agreed to a truce for the “good of the country,” the Democratic Party, and for their respective campaigns.

The meaningful discourse, now purposely thwarted by the two most prominent Presidential hopefuls, began when the former First Lady spoke of the democratic system and how change is created in American society.  Senator Clinton said, “Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Clinton continued. “It took a president to get it done.”

The comment, “unfortunate, and ill-advised” as defined by rival aspirant, Barack Obama stirred much debate.  Afro-Americans nationwide stopped and reassessed their stance.  Influential Blacks in Congress cautioned the candidate.  

Clinton has been criticized over the last week by some prominent African-American political leaders for remarks they perceived as diminishing the accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents Washington, D.C., in Congress, joined the chorus, warning Clinton to “watch out” in her comments on race.  “The black community is not only sensitive on race,” Norton said in an interview on Bloomberg Television today.  It is “super-sensitive on race.”

Loyal Clinton supporter, Andrew Young, a Black leader, and a trusted aide to Martin Luther King, remained faithful, as did others Clinton devotees.

However, amongst the electorate, those less famous for the active role they played in the fight for freedom, there was much rage.   Many recall the  sacrifice Black people made, the blood spilled, and the dream more real today with thanks to reverend King and his commitment to Civil Rights.  Battered and bruised, peaceful individuals held onto their hope.  They trusted they could change a nation mired in racism.  Black folks learned to believe, inspired by a man who made history, and who transformed a way of life, Doctor Martin Luther King Junior.  Hence, for countless Americans, Hillary Clinton’s remark was unwarranted, unwise, and diminished the achievements of Reverend King.  Her statement was equally dismissive of the tens of thousands who stood beside Martin.

Clinton argued her words were misunderstood.  Her intent distorted.  She reminded Americans of her history, and her close affiliation with Black causes and Afro-American leaders.  Accusations flew across the aisles.  For days, the rhetoric raged on.  

In truth, the words could have come from any candidate, or any individual.  The pronouncement could have easily been made on the streets.  For dark-skinned persons the proclamation speaks to the profound prejudice in America.  For the average Joe or Joanne,  Clinton’s observation verified what they believe.  There is no reason to hope that a man or a community can change what is.  Common people are powerless.  In American, people think that only the President of the United States has the authority to accomplish what others cannot.

In the “Land of the free and home of the brave”, most people believe they cannot make a difference.  Americans consider the government as separate from self.  The public feels powerless.  No matter the race, religion, or creed most Americans think they, as individuals, can do little to create change.  For the majority of the population, it makes sense that a prominent Civil Rights Leader could not realize his dream without the assistance of a higher Earthly authority.

Members of many an activist group think themselves ineffective.  Efforts to transform the country, and the planet, are great.  Yet, the masses do not see what advocates do.  On the rare occasions that they do, citizens retort “You cannot fight City Hall, so why try.”  Perchance, that is the reason that the mainstream media does not report on rallies, or possibly, those in power, the influential individuals who control American democracy do not cover dissent for they do not wish to sanction the little guys and gals.  Attempts to alter the establishment appear futile, or are accepted as such.

Conventional wisdom is we, the people, do not control what occurs in this country.  Legislators make laws.  The President of the United States ratifies the regulations.  There is little regard for the will of the people.  Once in a while, an Act may benefit the common folk.  Such was the circumstance in 1964.  However, for the most part, the little people, particularly persons of color, cannot expect to alter a nation, or its citizenry.  In this country, people accept the process.  Hence, initially, few questioned Senator Clinton’s words.  Indeed, countless, thought the statement accurate.  Some dark-skinned community leaders, who supported the Senator prior to the statement, avowed their continued commitment.

Residents of the United States, mostly, remain resistant to the rhetoric, In the “Land of the free,” it is easy to understand that while feathers might be ruffled and the hairs on the back of many a neck might be raised the candidates and the constituents will go on as though this topic is not as important as others.  In America, apathy abounds, and why not.  People have no reason to hope.  They do not trust that they, as individuals, or even as community leaders with millions of followers, can transform this nation.  Thus, for the majority of citizens, the Clinton comment went unnoticed.  

Nonetheless, numerous Afro-Americans heard the words and were disheartened.  Hillary Clinton’s spouse, Bill had long been characterized as the “First Black President of the United States.”  The two, together, husband and wife, were said to have done more to improve the circumstances of Afro-Americans than any other “Administration” had.  Among those who felt close to the Clinton’s, there was wonderment.  How could a Clinton make such a statement?  Hilary is not Bill.  Her background and upbringing are significantly different from his.  Hillary Clinton’s childhood and adult pursuits may be more typical for white Americans

For many Caucasians, and perchance for Hillary Clinton the uproar over her analysis of what occurs in America before change can occur, seemed a mystery.  Countless white Americans did not take offense; nor did they comprehend why Black persons might have.  In truth, incalculable numbers of light-skinned individuals never understood much of what Black Americans thought, or think.  White people hear that African Americans consider Bill Clinton the “First Black President.”  For Anglos this belief was and is a paradox.  Some Anglos admittedly struggle  to believe this man is beloved by people of color.  Essayist, Suzy Hansen, of Salon fame, was among the befuddled.  Hansen confessed the determination made no sense to her.  The Columnist recounts her observations.

In her now-famous defense of a scandal-plagued Bill Clinton, Nobel prizewinner Toni Morrison, went so far as to call him “our first black president.  Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime.”  “Clinton,” Morrison wrote in the 1998 New Yorker essay, “displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.”

I remember reading Morrison’s essay and choking.  Morrison’s estimation of Clinton’s blackness seemed shallow, offensive and beside the point.  At the time, I wasn’t the only one unnerved, and I’m sure many people still have problems with calling Clinton “the first black president,” no matter how Morrison intended it.  Yet, in retrospect, I realize that my sharp reaction had something to do with age: I was pretty young when Reagan and Bush were in office.  Like most white people, I didn’t understand how Clinton related to the African-American community; I also had a limited memory of how other presidents treated blacks.

 

In America other Presidents, all ivory skin leaders did not relate to the difficulties of dark-complexioned persons.  The prim and proper alabaster population, daily, disregarded the plight of people of African descent.  Black persons were to be seen, working, and not heard.  For centuries, Americans, White, Anglo, Saxon Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Agnostic, and Atheist alike thought Afro-Americans were less valuable, less intelligence, less important than their Caucasian brethren.  Indeed, paler pinkish persons did not feel remotely related to those whose skin shone a purplish brown hue.

For centuries, Caucasians sought to control the Black man or woman.  When they realized the error of their ways, white people did not know what to say, or do.  Subtly, Anglos shunned African-American citizens.  Oh, smiles were exchanged.  Cordialities could be heard.  However, in sallow-skinned abodes across the nation, individual spoke from there heart.  “Girl, you better not marry a Black man.”  “Son, don’t you be seen with that girl.  You will put the family to shame.”  On the surface, in public, white folks may have been polite.  They may appear accepting; however, ask them what they think in the quiet of their homes . . .

In recent years, as Black people gained a modicum of power, whites withered when in their presence.  Caucasians embarrassed to divulge the disdain that had been passed down for generations, worked to present a posture of approval.  In truth, for a vast number of Caucasians, tolerance was the tone.  There was an unspoken tension between the races.  In fact, today this strain still exists.  Yet, the majority of Americans wish to believe the anxiety does not exist.  There is much pressure not to be thought of as prejudiced.

Bill Clinton was not, and is not defined as a bigot.  Black Americans felt he truly felt their pain.  President Clinton had lived as Black persons do.  He could and does relate.  African-Americans appreciate this.  Journalist, Suzy Hansen wanted to explore why this might be.  In an interview with DeWayne Wickham, Hansen, and her readers, learned “Why blacks love Bill Clinton.”  DeWayne Wickham, a former adjunct faculty member in the University of Maryland’s College of Journalism, an occasional presenter at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, an author and a columnist for USA Today offered his informed opinion in response to Hansen’s questions.

You do explain how poorly previous presidents have treated — or haven’t treated at all, for that matter — the black community.  Do you think the black community’s enthusiasm for Clinton has something to do with the fact that Reagan and Bush were particularly insensitive? Was Clinton refreshing?

Ronald Reagan and George Bush I were part of a long line of presidents who just didn’t get it when it comes to people of color, particularly African-Americans. Of the first 15 presidents, 13 of them were staunch supporters of slavery. Eight of them actually owned slaves. Only John Adams and John Quincy Adams had no stomach for the institution. When you start talking about 41 presidents, you’ve already lost a third of them right there.

Then, what you find is that most presidents ran away from the black community. It was a difficult issue during slavery for white politicians. It was a difficult issue in the post-slavery period for politicians. It was a tough issue for a lot of presidents during the Jim Crow era when blacks were knocking on doors, demanding anti-lynching legislation, and Southern politicians were coming into the halls of Congress and the Oval Office, saying, “Not on our watch will you push that kind of legislation upon our people.”

The legislators had the power of the vote in Congress, and African-Americans had only, on their side, the moral high ground. Most presidents opted for the power of the vote. You have to get up to FDR and LBJ — on whose watch the important civil rights legislation in our history was passed. So, the list is very short.

What makes Clinton special is that he found a way to connect with us that was personal and up close. He convinced us in words and in deeds that this relationship was at least partly in his heart, as well as in his head. This guy grew up in the back of his grandfather’s store in Hope, Ark., hanging out with black kids.

Perhaps, this explanation helps us to understand the importance of empathy.  Bill Clinton does not differentiate between a person of one color or another, or at least he discriminates to a lesser degree than other American Presidents did, or white persons do.

Characteristically, Caucasian Americans may associate with ebony individuals; they can befriend a select few of those labeled Black.  However, unless Anglos integrate Afro-Americans into their real-life, place their dark-skin brethren in their hearts, until Anglos, by choice associate with persons of color, day in and day out, they cannot truthfully claim to be colorblind.  Yet, they do, and then make statements such as the one Hillary Clinton offered.

A Black American; however, knows to the core, in the United States, there is no equality.  Ample evidence demonstrates, just as the former First Lady implied.  “The man” [or powerful white woman] must determine what is best for America.  An influential leader, rarely if ever a person of color,  must do what needs to be done.  Only a person strong enough to be placed in Oval Office can better the nation.  Thus far, no Black person has been thought to be of the caliber necessary to be President of the United States.

Americans claim Afro-Americans are not experienced enough in matters of State.  They are not competent to lead a country.  Ebony applicants lack the talent or skills necessary for the job, or so citizens of this country proclaim.  There is always a reason not to advance a Black candidate beyond where he or she is.  In the past, and possibly in the future, a white individual can and likely will fill the boots of President of the United States, of a corporation, or a community board, not because they are better suited for the position, it is just not quite time to leave racism behind.

Even Bill Clinton accepted this truth.  When President Clinton decided to withdraw his nomination of Civil Rights Lawyer, Lani Guinier  for Assistant Attorney General, his actions spoke volumes.  Lani Guinier expressed her deep and sincere frustration for the fact that we live in a nation where people choose to distort the history of a Black Leader.  Guinier was sorrowful; she did not have an opportunity to defend herself against the inaccuracy of numerous attacks.  Prominent Civil Rights Lawyer, Lani Guinier could not publicly correct the misrepresentations of her record.  However, she added her acknowledgement that a “divisive debate” over race was the “last thing” this nation could afford.

In taking the latter position, though not in her larger views, Guinier typified the current stance of most American liberals and much of the left by implying that the Democratic Party’s hesitantly progressive politics, is such a fragile flower that it cannot survive even the frank discussion of racism, let alone the pursuit of ‘race specific reform initiatives.

After a stint of resignation for the reality that was in the 1990s, when Lani Guinier agreed to forfeit her nomination, and forego the potentially conflict-ridden conversation the reflective Harvard Law School Professor and co-Author of The Miner’s Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy spoke out.  In a 2004 an article titled A People’s Democratic Platform Guinier wrote . . .

Never has it been clearer that Democrats must promote a national conversation about what it means to be a multiracial democracy.

However, this dialogue has yet to occur.  Each time the people of this country have an opportunity to ford a new frontier, and fashion a multiracial democracy, we forego the necessary discussion.  We rather not chat about what could be, let alone act on alternatives.

Two years after Guinier’s declaration Americans were again confronted with the realities of racism. The race for a Tennessee Senate seat was on.  Black American, Representative Harold E. Ford Junior, the Democratic candidate from Memphis whose campaign for the Senate was considered among the most hopeful in a mid-term election was doing well in the polls.  People in the community gravitated towards the refined son of a former Congressman.  A lawyer in his own right, this sophisticated genteel gentleman seemed ideal to replace retiring Senator Bill Frist.  The Republicans feared the rise of Harold Ford, and decided to feed on the fears of the white American electorate.  Republicans framed an advertisement and fashioned a message that is ever-present in America.

The commercial, financed by the Republican National Committee, was aimed at Representative Harold E. Ford Jr., the black Democrat from Memphis whose campaign for the Senate this year has kept the Republicans on the defensive in a state where they never expected to have trouble holding the seat.

The spot, which was first broadcast last week and was disappearing from the air on Wednesday, featured a series of people in mock man-on-the street interviews talking sarcastically about Mr. Ford and his stands on issues including the estate tax and national security.

The controversy erupted over one of the people featured: an attractive white woman, bare-shouldered, who declares that she met Mr. Ford at a “Playboy party,” and closes the commercial by looking into the camera and saying, with a wink, “Harold, call me.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Ford, who is single, said he was one of 3,000 people who attended a Playboy party at the Super Bowl last year in Jacksonville, Fla.

Critics asserted that the advertisement was a clear effort to play to racial stereotypes and fears, essentially, playing the race card in an election where Mr. Ford is trying to break a century of history and become the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction.

Hilary Shelton, director of the N.A.A.C.P.’s Washington bureau, said the spot took aim at the sensitivities many Americans still have about interracial dating.

John Geer, a professor at Vanderbilt University and a specialist in political advertising, said that it “is playing to a lot of fears” and “frankly makes the Willie Horton ad look like child’s play.”

Professor Geer was alluding to the case of a convicted black murderer used in Republican commercials contending that the 1988 Democratic nominee for president, Michael S. Dukakis, was soft on crime.

Mr. Ford has been campaigning as an independent, new generation Democrat dedicated to changing the atmosphere in Washington; to putting more attention on the needs of the middle class and on bread and butter issues like health care and to bringing a fresh approach to the war in Iraq. He has strongly resisted Republican efforts to pigeonhole him as a liberal.

While the label Liberal can be avoided, other terms will suffice.  A Progressive cannot wipe away the color of their skin.  Harold Ford was unable to separate himself from the image of a single Black man on the prowl for a white woman, or so we might surmise.  The quality candidate did not win the Senate seat.

Barack Obama may try not to draw attention to what could be problematic for his campaign, the race factor; nonetheless, accomplished and admired as he is, he cannot negate that his skin color, and how white persons react to any claim that causes white America concern will influence the vote.

In Nevada, registered voters received robot-calls.  The intent was to remind white Americans, already anxious, of what they feared most.  Barack Obama is not as he appears.  A Harvard scholar, a former State Senator, a United States Senator, and a Presidential aspirant, is just as our enemies.  He must be. His middle name is Hussein and . . .

“I’m calling with some important information about Barack Hussein Obama,” says the anonymous caller. “Barack Hussein Obama says he doesn’t take money from Washington lobbyists or special interest groups, but the record is clear that he does.”

The male voice concludes: “You just can’t take a chance on Barack Hussein Obama.”

In America, we do not speak of race; however, differences in skin color are always on our mind.  Caucasians see a Black person walking in a “white neighborhood” and they wonder why.  If whites hear of a crime, they assume the perpetrator is Black.  Pink-skin people work to demonstrate that they believe in equality; however, since they, themselves feel hopeless and not among the authorities that rule it is difficult for them to accept that there was a man, and a time, when Black people moved mountains of hate.

Nonetheless, whites try to understand, on occasion.  Caucasians set aside a day to honor the Civil Right s Leader, Martin Luther King Junior.  A holiday was established so that all might revere and remember the dream.

As the turmoil and talk of the truce faded, Americans celebrated.  On Tuesday, January 15, 2008, as the nation observed the anniversary of Martin Luther King Junior’s birth, and settled back into oblivion, satisfied that neither Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama would mention the unspeakable, the headlines screamed again, “Beware!”  Beware!  Black People cannot to be trusted.  Weary white Americans, woeful of a world they have never known, are willing to believe Barack Obama must not be placed in a position of power.  Again, Americans are easily absorbed in distraction.  As witnessed earlier, some subscribe to the popular stories.  They spread rumors.  True, false, or not as a narrative might lead us to believe, Americans reveled in the chatter, before Hillary Clinton touched a nerve, and will again.  People hope gossip will lessen the pain or at least help them to avoid discussions of the truer issues.  If accusations are made against one person, than we need not look at the blanket of bigotry that envelops most every white American.  

A column in the Washington Post this morning by Richard Cohen reported that Trumpet Magazine, founded by Obama’s pastor at the Trinity United Church of Christ, Jeremiah Wright had named Louis Farrakhan “Man of the Year” in 2007.

Wright wrote that Farrakhan “truly epitomized greatness.”

Obama’s campaign released a statement from the senator earlier today.

“I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan,” Obama said in the statement. “I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree.”

Cohen reported in the Post that Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, had said that Obama and his minister disagree on many issues and Farrakhan was one of them.

However, in the Anglo eyes of many an American, extremist, and a man defined as Anti-Semite by groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, Louis Farrakhan and Barack do have one common bond besides the association with the Pastor, each is a darkly complexioned man in America.  That alone is enough to end a political career, let alone remind white Americans, this man cannot become President of the United States [and we would not want him to marry our sister.] Black Americans have been unable to ford this barrier.  An individual with hope cannot change what is . . .  at least that is the perception most Americans hold dear.

The accepted conviction is America needs an Administrator.  We must have an overseer, an authority figure to guide us.  When citizens select a President, we look for a known quantity, an established leader.  In this country, we have a history of elite rule and we are comfortable with the familiar.  Bill Clinton was thought exceptional for although he was a Rhodes Scholar, he was also a child of poverty.  Bill Clinton’s common roots and authentic comfort with people of color entitled him to the title of “The First Black President.”

When the Clinton’s were in the White House, Blacks were welcome.  They did not need to enter through the back door.  An invitation to be  part of society in a more real sense was appreciated.  No other President accepted Afro-Americans as Bill Clinton had.  The contrast between what had always been and what was in a Clinton Administration was great.

However, we must ponder; was the title bestowed, in part because those who never fully expected to see a Black man or woman in the Oval Office during the course of their lives, those who have been poor  and beaten-down for so long are grateful for small favors.  Black persons have seen the bottom.  Thus, even a small step above the bedrock seemed to be sky-high.  

Might we consider the more drastic change that occurred with thanks to a man with a dream.  While Marin Luther King Junior may not have signed the papers that allowed for a freedom Black Americans had never known, without his efforts, without his will, without the masses that followed his lead, no President would have dared to move the mountain that obstructed our unified view of what could be accomplished.

President Lyndon Baines Johnson would never have thought to do as he did.  Bill Clinton could not have conceived of the possibilities, unless or until Doctor King and millions of Americans with hope in their hearts had gathered together to shatter the notion that Black persons would silently serve as economic slaves to the white masters.

After the Hillary Clinton declaration one of those instruments of change, who served the people in a practical manner, a man who marched for civil rights, and did more to create equality than Bill Clinton might have spoke on the topic, now re-titled taboo.  Cleveland Sellers, heads the department of African-American studies at the University of South Carolina, is an Obama supporter, and a veteran of the civil rights movement.  When asked how he felt after hearing Hillary Clinton’s comment, he offered why he did not believe she felt his pain.

During the New Hampshire primary battle, Hillary Clinton made a comment about Martin Luther King that seemed, at first anyway, to diminish his role in the civil rights battle in relation to that of President Lyndon Johnson. She quickly clarified those remarks and re-emphasized the accomplishments of King, but how has that played in South Carolina??

That created some real problems, because it was an indication of a kind of insensitivity.  For a veteran of the civil rights movement-and that’s what I am-it wasn’t just Dr. King, it was all of the unsung heroes and heroines of that era. Modjeska Simkins here in South Carolina, and the Fannie Lou Hamers, and the children in Birmingham, and the people who rode the freedom buses and went to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 … All of these people created the climate in which Congress felt the pressure and acted.

Mister Sellers was not the only one to express his displeasure.  Prominent persons, radio professionals, and elected officials were disenchanted.  The Clinton charm wore thin in contrast to the coldness of a claim.

In South Carolina, scene of a key showdown on January 26, where half the Democratic electorate are African Americans, black radio hosts have expressed outrage over Mrs Clinton’s remark. Now one of the state’s most influential black congressmen is hinting that he might endorse Mr Obama.

He said he was angered by what he claims were dismissive comments about Martin Luther King by Mrs Clinton. Aides to Mr Obama, who hopes to become America’s first black president, are also accusing Bill Clinton of being racially insensitive when he said in New Hampshire last week that Mr Obama’s campaign was a “fairytale.”

James Clyburn, the highest-ranking African American in Congress and a veteran of the civil rights movement, referred to a comment made by Mrs Clinton on Monday, the day before her stunning comeback in New Hampshire set up a brutal nomination battle with Mr Obama. . . .

Mrs Clinton has since tried to clarify the comment, but the damage was done.  Mr Clyburn, who had previously said that he would stay neutral, told The New York Times that he had been “bothered a great deal” by the remarks and was rethinking his position..

Even amongst the electorate, there is much clamor.  In South Carolina, there is ample concern for the Clinton comment.  For some, Martin Luther King was able to deliver the dream, and did far more than Bill Clinton might have.  The monetary gains, while great could not have been realized without the dreamer who helped millions to believe, to speak out, and who worked to ensure the invisible people were seen.

Mac’s on Main is a popular soul food restaurant in South Carolina’s capital, Columbia. It is run by chef and City Councilman Barry Walker. The walls are decorated with signed, framed photos of blues greats like B.B. King and laminated maps of his council district. Walker is undecided but said he is unhappy with the direction the Clinton campaign has taken.

“I think they are going for broke now, going for whatever they can do,” he said.

Referring to an incident on the eve of the New Hampshire primary in which Clinton became teary-eyed while speaking to voters, Walker said, “crying isn’t going to help here.”

“She can cry all she wants, (but) black people have been crying for years. What’s going to help here is addressing the issues that are affecting us,” he said.

Joseph Free of Columbia, who was dining at the restaurant, agreed.

“They (are) … getting into the part I was hoping wouldn’t happen … (turning) the thing into a race problem,” he said.

Free’s comments reflect a kind of collective disappointment in the black community, according to Todd Shaw, a political science professor at the University of South Carolina.

“I think that African-American voters are wise in the sense that they know there is more to come. That is the fear,” he said.

Once again, apprehension triumphs.  Just as Americans accept that we must do all that we can to protect ourselves from those our leaders call foreign enemies, citizens embrace an agenda that allows us to eliminate discussion about the enemy within, racism.  

Senators Clinton and Obama decided that talk of the divide between Anglos and Afro-Americans would not be healthy.  They mutually adopted a truce to protect Americans from themselves.  The two candidates have elected to continue as they had.  Distractions dominate the campaigns.  Americans continue to engage as Wall Street Journal Columnist Phillips did.  As a country, we consider the most pertinent questions, the ones we ponder each day without prodding.

Will Barack Obama’s past drug use preclude a White House future?  Will Christian conservatives forgive Rudy Giuliani his two divorces?  Will voters forgive Hillary Clinton for forgiving Bill?

And what exactly did Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich see hovering above actress Shirley MacLaine’s house 25 years ago?

Could Dennis Kucinich, or any other human being, have seen the least likely unidentified object in the political skies, a truce between the two most prominent Presidential candidates, a permanent cease-fire. He could have as could we.  In Presidential politics, as on the streets of America, we do not speak of what is real.  Racism remains a staple in American society.  A Presidential aspirant who speaks of change through hope, is reminded of the fact that we must do as always has been done. Experience teaches us, a white person with a plan will always be more effective than a Black individual who can inspire others to dream.  

White persons want to suspend the storm, perhaps through eternity.  Black people, who know their place agree to simmer silently.  Few recall the words of the man who made a difference.  It was not President Johnson who motivated millions in droves.  Nor did Bill Clinton truly change conditions for the people of color.  It was Martin who refused to remain silent.  The message Reverend and Doctor Martin Luther King Junior carried throughout the country and into Washington District of Columbia advanced why we see today, Blacks and whites working together to bring about equality.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

~ Martin Luther King, Junior [Civil Rights Leader

“I Have a Dream.” I Speak of it.  Do You?  . . . .

MSNBC Debate; Clinton, Edwards, Obama. Theatre of the Absurd.



MSNBC Democratic Debate in Las Vegas Jan. 15, 2008 Pt. 7

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

The night was young, and yet, the messages were old.  The top-tier Democratic hopefuls huddled together around a round table.  The stage was prepared and the performance would be unparalleled.  Each character in this play reveled in an accepted reality.  Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, or Barack Obama, are “right” for the country.  No one else could compare to this cast of characters.  In truth, the three were one.  The dramatic debate was cordial and quaint.  The candidates were polite, prim, and extremely proper.  The production was well-managed.  No one was scolded.  Regrets were expressed.  Geniality grew as the hopefuls promised to do no harm to the others.  

It was easy to be calm.  The setting was comfortable.  Candidates were able to comfortably sit in chairs.  The dialogue was intended to seem spontaneous.  There was no rehearsal, supposedly.  As the Presidential aspirants interacted amicably, spoke, the audience wondered; would they join hands and hum kumbaya.

The only possible opposition to the message of unified-status-quo was strategically eliminated from the panel.  Corps and the Courts barred the only voice-of-change from what MSNBC billed as a Democratic Candidate Debate.  General Electric owned and operated, MSNBC refused to allow Presidential aspirant Dennis Kucinich to participate in this televised assemblage.  Apparently, according to Donald Campbell, a Las Vegas lawyer who represented NBC Universal, “The Federal Communication Commission [FCC] broadcast rules do not apply to cable TV networks.”

Given this statement, unexpectedly, Americans have an answer to what has long been a source of confusion.  The cable news channels need not broadcast in the interest of the people.  An audience, the source for sales, is captive.  For producers, favoritism is fine.  Viewers, who have long claimed the candidate they will cast a ballot for, are absent from the air, now, we know why.  Only those, the writers considered crucial were part of the plot.  Extras, or unelectables, as defined by the network Directors, need not apply.

Attorney Donald Campbell proclaimed, to force MSNBC to include the people’s entrant, Dennis Kucinich, or not air the debate if the Congressman from Ohio did not appear, would amount to “prior restraint.”  Legal legend, Campbell declared to allow Presidential aspirant Kucinich to take the stage would be a tantamount to a “clear and unequivocal” violation of the First Amendment. Campbell pleaded with the Justices, and requested they consider the right to a free press.  The Nevada Supreme Court Jurors conferred and concluded Campbell was correct.  

Individual liberties, and the ‘public’s right to know’ may be legally abridged if cable corporate Chief Executives needs are involved.  in 2008, exceptions and exclusions dominate the Democratic debates as does obfuscation.

Americans might have heard in the past, on the few occasions when they were afforded an opportunity, Congressman Kucinich is committed to bring the all the troops home from Iraq months after he enters the Oval Office.  Not only will President Kucinich establish a policy of truth and reconciliation, Commander-In-chief Kucinich will lead with a refined resolution.

The US announces it will end the occupation, close military bases and withdraw.  The insurgency has been fueled by the occupation and the prospect of a long-term presence as indicated by the building of permanent bases.  A US declaration of an intention to withdraw troops and close bases will help dampen the insurgency which has been inspired to resist colonization and fight invaders and those who have supported US policy.  Furthermore this will provide an opening where parties within Iraq and in the region can set the stage for negotiations towards peaceful settlement.

Our future President Dennis Kucinich, believes we must recognize the plight of the people of Iraq.  Americans cannot ignore the truth; we went to war on false premises.  This fact alone affects the battle.  For too long citizens of this “free” democratic homeland deny the realities on the ground.  Circumstances ensure there is no hope of a military resolution.  As occupiers, we provoke more discord than bring peace.  A President Kucinich avows the United States must own its responsibility, and accept our actions caused the chaos.  A diplomatic process, adherence to international law will achieve stability in Iraq.  When Americans work towards a reverent resolution in Iraq, our troops will be able to return home with dignity.

This philosophy and plan contrasts with the Three-Are-One Plan.  What Americans heard was, as Fact Check characterized it, “Iraqi Theatre,” absurd, and lackluster.  Nonetheless, this, we are told is want Americans want, regardless of the polls that state the general public wants out of this futile war.

Once again, the candidates all made sweeping claims about their plans to withdraw troops from Iraq.  Obama and Edwards promised to “get our troops out” by the end of 2009, while Clinton promised to begin withdrawing troops within 60 days and promised to have “nearly all the troops out” by the end of 2009.  But under questioning, all three conceded that troops could be in Iraq for years:

Obama: I will end the war as we understand it in combat missions.  But that we are going to have to protect our embassy.  We’re going to have to protect our civilians.  We’re engaged in humanitarian activity there.  We are going to have to have some presence that allows us to strike if al Qaeda is creating bases inside of Iraq.

Clinton: Well, I think that what Barack is what John and I also meant at that same time, because, obviously, we have to be responsible, we have to protect our embassy, we do need to make sure that, you know, our strategic interests are taken care of.

Edwards: I just want to say, it is dishonest to suggest that you’re not going to have troops there to protect the embassy.  That’s just not the truth.  It may be great political theater and political rhetoric, but it’s not the truth.

As far as we can tell, there isn’t much daylight between the Iraq policies of Clinton, Edwards and Obama.  The biggest difference we noticed: Edwards would station some combat troops in Kuwait and bring them into Iraq whenever they were needed to counter terrorist activity.  Clinton and Obama would keep about the same number of troops for precisely the same mission, but they would station those troops in Iraq.  We leave it to our readers to determine how significant that difference is.

There is a distinction between combat troops and embassy guards.  But the candidates drew this distinction only when pressed.  The fact is all of them would have Americans in uniform stationed in Iraq indefinitely, and all of them leave open the possibility that U.S. combat troops will be fighting limited engagements in Iraq for years, whether they are stationed in Iraq or Kuwait.  That leaves us agreeing with Edwards: There was definitely some political theater going on.

After this performance, the actors did not stand; nor did they take their bows.  These artistes are professional entertainers.  Clinton, Edwards, and Obama need no props.  They can deliver a monologue without a script.  These three are truly practiced.  They know their craft.

Cater to the corporate sponsors.  Cackle in a charming manner.  Be charismatic.  Present a commanding presence.  Remember, the public likes it when you are cute.  Cry, if you must, but be cautious.  True emotions can distract or create distance between you and the audience.  Strut your stuff, but whatever you do, do not subscribe to the “extreme” positions, mainstream candidate Congressman Kucinich does.  

“Exit Iraq?”  That idea is preposterous.  There is money to be had from war.  The truer Weapon of Mass Destruction is Dennis Kucinich.

Speaking of arsenals, MSNBC Correspondents, and employees of parent company General Electric turn to the topic of guns.  The Presidential players sing the song conventionally Conservative, Constitutional constructionist wish to hear.  Guns?  Grab me by the barrel and I am yours.

Russert: We arrived in Nevada, the headline in Nevada Appeal newspaper: Nevada leads in gun deaths.

Russert: The leading cause for death among young black men is guns — death, homicide.  Mayor Bloomberg of New York, you all know him, he and 250 mayors have started the campaign, Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Senator Clinton, when you ran for the Senate in 2000, you said that everyone who wishes to purchase a gun should have a license, and that every handgun sale or transfer should be registered in a national registry.  Will you try to implement such a plan?

Clinton: Well, I am against illegal guns, and illegal guns are the cause of so much death and injury in our country.  I also am a political realist and I understand that the political winds are very powerful against doing enough to try to get guns off the street, get them out of the hands of young people.

The law in New York was as you state, and the law in New York has worked to a great extent.

Clinton: I don’t want the federal government preempting states and cities like New York that have very specific problems.

So here’s what I would do.  We need to have a registry that really works with good information about people who are felons, people who have been committed to mental institutions like the man in Virginia Tech who caused so much death and havoc.  We need to make sure that that information is in a timely manner, both collected and presented.

We do need to crack down on illegal gun dealers.  This is something that I would like to see more of.

And we need to enforce the laws that we have on the books.  I would also work to reinstate the assault weapons ban.  We now have, once again, police deaths going up around the country, and in large measure because bad guys now have assault weapons again.  We stopped it for awhile.  Now they’re back on the streets.

So there are steps we need to take that we should do together.  You know, I believe in the Second Amendment.  People have a right to bear arms.  But I also believe that we can common-sensically approach this.

Russert: But you’ve backed off a national licensing registration plan?

Clinton: Yes.

Ahhh, the audience applauds.  We witness one of those moments of regret.  A subdued Clinton, in character shows her inner strength.  She is strong enough to admit she was [once] wrong, or at least, did not act in accordance with what the producers or the public relations persons say the people prefer.  The moderator, the narrator, or the demigod for political dialogue then turns his attention to another in the cast.

Russert: Senator Obama, when you were in the state senate, you talked about licensing and registering gun owners.  Would you do that as president?

Obama: I don’t think that we can get that done.  But what I do think we can do is to provide just some common-sense enforcement.  One good example — this is consistently blocked — the efforts by law enforcement to obtain the information required to trace back guns that have been used in crimes to unscrupulous gun dealers.

That’s not something that the NRA has allowed to get through Congress.  And, as president, I intend to make it happen.

But here’s the broader context that I think is important for us to remember.  We essentially have two realities, when it comes to guns, in this country.  You’ve got the tradition of lawful gun ownership, that all of us saw, as we travel around rural parts of the country.

And it is very important for many Americans to be able to hunt, fish, take their kids out, teach them how to shoot.

And then you’ve got the reality of 34 Chicago public school students who get shot down on the streets of Chicago.

We can reconcile those two realities by making sure the Second Amendment is respected and that people are able to lawfully own guns, but that we also start cracking down on the kinds of abuses of firearms that we see on the streets.

We began this performance with the notion of Amendments.  It seems apt that we return to the discussion of Rights.  On stage, the actors address issues of public interest, while they work to avoid any offer of information in the interest of the common good.  

Russert: Senator Edwards, Democrats used to be out front for registration and licensing of guns.  It now appears that there’s a recognition that it’s hard to win a national election with that position.  Is that fair?

Edwards: I think that’s fair, but I haven’t changed my position on this.  I’m against it.  Having grown up where I did in the rural South, everyone around me had guns, everyone hunted.  And I think it is enormously important to protect people’s Second Amendment rights.

I don’t believe that means you need an AK-47 to hunt.  And I think the assault weapons ban, which Hillary spoke about just a minute ago, as president of the United States, I’ll do everything in my power to reinstate it.  But I do think we need a president who understands the sportsmen, hunters who use their guns for lawful purposes have a right to have their Second Amendment rights looked after.

Might we again ask of Rights, the Bill of Rights, Constitutional Amendments, and how the Courts apply these to weapons-maker General Electric, the owner, and operator of Microsoft-NBC.  Could we consider the courts determination and how the same rules affect the outcome as it relates to citizen, Congressman, and Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.  The words freedom and justice for all come to mind.  In a country where all men are created equal, perchance, the interest of Corporate Chiefs supersedes those of the common folk.

Were we to review Act I, Scenes II, II, or IV we would see how similar the cast of characters are on issues such as Energy, Health Care, Immigration and more.  However, this Playbill is just as the Producers prefer, concise.  After all, conventional wisdom, which is all the network wishes to present, is American audiences have short attention spans.  This too, maybe by design.

As the public reviews the reality of the program, they need not know that General Electric offers a panoply of products and services all affected by the President of the United Sates and his or her Administration.  Personal interests, and certainly, not public needs, may have prompted the parent company of MSNBC to do as they did.  This conglomerate produces or provides engines for planes, petroleum, energy, and entertainment.  Health Care, Business, and Consumer Credit are integral parts of the General Electric portfolio.  This major Producer/Director does much more than light the auditorium, or offer well choreographed “enlightenment.”

Perchance, critics might pose the better question.  Why are Americans willing to accept theatre of the absurd?  Citizens tune in and channel the “advisable” perceptions.  The “majority” of people consider Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards as separate candidates, the super stars, amongst the dramatis personae.  Audience members focus on placement and how a Presidential hopeful moves across the stage.  Intonations inspire.  Cadence counts.  Most Americans ignore that there is little variance in the actors’ script.  Personalities may not be identical.  However, essentially, the three are one.  

As Americans look at the Presidential aspirants declared viable, we laugh, we clap, we cheer, and we jeer.  Once we choose the candidate-of-change, and place that person in the Oval Office, might we realize as we could have during this “debate,” there is little difference?  Will citizens ask for a refund?  This premiere performance might help us to understand, the price of this ticket may be far too costly.



MSNBC Democratic Debate in Las Vegas Jan. 15, 2008 Pt. 11

Scenes, Sources, The Stage . . .

Ultra K, Back In Play

© copyright 2007 Storm Bear Town Called Dobson

To view the original, travel to a Town Called Dobson. Ultra K, Back In Play

The corporate overlords back in the Star Chambers of MSNBC must not be happy with a new ruling from Judge Thompson of Nevada, denying MSNBC the right to ban Dennis Kucinich from the Democratic debate.

NBC News said Monday it will appeal a judge’s ruling rather than include Democratic presidential hopeful Dennis Kucinich in a candidates’ debate in Nevada.

”We disagree with the judge’s decision and are filing an appeal,” said a statement provided by Jeremy Gaines, a vice president for MSNBC, sponsor of Tuesday night’s debate. Gaines said the parent network would seek an immediate hearing before the Nevada Supreme Court.

Hours earlier, Senior Clark County District Court Judge Charles Thompson ruled that Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, must be allowed to participate. If he is excluded, Thompson said he would issue an injunction to stop the televised debate.

Kucinich’s lawyer had argued that MSNBC at first invited him to participate, then last week reversed course and told him he could not.

This explains why Chris Matthews was particularly moody yesterday!

This is good news for the Ultra K camp and for democracy in general, especially since Kucinich’s positions make a whole lot more sense than the rest of the Democratic field combined. I have always said we as a Nation are in such sorry, sad shape that half measures and slow routes to rationality will not cut it. The longer we wait to make serious changes, the more we will slide down hill.

I have read the position papers of all the candidates and Kucinich comes out on top is rationality and effectiveness. Edwards is close on his heels. The  front-runners, Clinton and Obama, have weaker and much less effective ideas to save America from our downward spiral.

I know people who are voting for Obama because he is Black and I know people for are voting for Hillary because she is a woman. I just wish we would vote for people because the candidate wants to make college free for all Americans, or decriminalize drugs, or do away with insurance companies and nationalize healthcare.

We will continue to get the government we deserve.

The Computer Ate My Vote

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

“The dog ate my homework,” said young Jonathan.  In those tender years, he hoped an authority figure would trust the statement to be true.  As an adult, Jonathan grumbled in frustration, “The computer ate my vote.” The concerned citizen wanted to hear no excuses.  Just as he knew the sweet little pup on his lap never digested the paper he did not write, Jon understood; the central processing system did not devour the votes.  Constituent choices were not read or recorded accurately.  

In January 2008, Jonathon, a New Hampshire resident, cast his ballot for Barack Obama, as did his wife, and their adult children.  When asked by exit pollsters, Jon’s parents proudly proclaimed, “We each voted for Obama.”  Neighbors on either side were loyal to Edwards.  Colleagues were mixed.  Dennis Kucinich was a favorite for Julie, Helene, and Amy.  The three were outspoken in their support. While sentiments were mixed, very few supported the former First Lady, Senator Clinton.  As Jonathon assessed all he heard and read he believed as  the pundits predicted, Obama would Win by 18-20%.  However, that is not what happened.

Post Primary Election Day the results in New Hampshire are being questioned.  By an overwhelming majority Barack Obama was expected to triumph.  Clinton would not see her presumed coronation.  People such as Jonathon and the pundits asked, “What happened?” Conspiracy theories abound.  Americans are reminded, in the last three elections, a ballot cast through circuitry may not be a reliable tally.

Critics, cynics, those who rebuff the idea that any authoritarian agenda might have caused, or effected, the capricious vote count offer evidence that the current system is clean.  Experts evaluate, it is not the method, but the map that produced the unexpected.

Preliminary analysis from Edison/Mitofsky, however, indicates that the difference between the two types of precincts goes back at least two elections. As Joe Lenski, executive vice president of Edison Media Research, wrote in an e-mail, “unless there has been hidden election fraud in New Hampshire for the last three presidential primaries the ‘evidence’ being used by these fraudsters probably does not hold up to any rigorous statistical analysis.”

Moreover, attributing all the differences between these townships to their choice of vote-counting procedures misses other potentially important differences among voters (e.g., proportions independent, highly-educated).

Update: The table below has been updated to reflect new numbers from the Secretary of State.











Vote By Type of Equipment Used
      Optical scanners Paper ballots
2008 Clinton 40.09 33.74
2008 Obama 35.84 39.77
2008 Margin Clinton +4.25 Obama +6.03
2004 Kerry 39.52 32.40
2004 Dean 24.74 34.43
2004 Margin Kerry +14.78 Dean +2.03
2000 Gore 50.35 45.80
2000 Bradley 45.03 49.13
2000 Margin Gore +5.31 Bradley +3.33

Reports that substantiate the validity of what is do nothing to diminish or dismiss the underlying veracity of what might also be true.  There are plenty of questions and the rate of replies grows exponentially.  An analysis begs speculation.  Might the optical scanners appear in affluent areas.  In these communities, people may be less dependent on landlines, and more tied to a cellular telephones.  Possibly conventional means for vote computation occurs in neighborhoods where people are home and accessible to canvassers.   It might be that those polled did endorse Obama in greater numbers.  However, even if this theory is accurate, it does not explain the vastness of the gap.

Jonathon muses, “No one polled me.”  His mother and father were not reached.  Edwards supporters in his neighborhood were not contacted.  Julie, an activist, yearned to offer her opinion to a campaign researcher  She waited for a call.  None came.  Granitite State local Helene wanted nothing more than to declare her support for Dennis Kucinich.  This lovely lady in the “Live Free or Die” state had much to declare.  She and her friend Amy welcomed a call from a pollster.  Indeed, when each was presented with a list of candidates and then asked whom they might vote for, Helene and Amy inquired, “Why was Dennis Kucinich not included in the rooster?”  Many ruminate, the survey amongst voters might reflect more than a margin of error.  Andrew Kohut, President, of the Pew Research Center argues the polls were perfect.  The reviewers are “Getting It Wrong.”

The failure of the New Hampshire pre-election surveys to mirror the outcome of the Democratic race is one of the most significant miscues in modern polling history.  All the published polls, including those that surveyed through Monday, had Senator Barack Obama comfortably ahead with an average margin of more than 8 percent.  These same polls showed no signs that Senator Hillary Clinton might close that gap, let alone win.

While it will take time for those who conducted the New Hampshire tracking polls to undertake rigorous analyses of their surveys, a number of things are immediately apparent.

First, the problem was not a general failure of polling methodology . . .

Second, the inaccuracies don’t seem related to the subtleties of polling methods . . .

Third, the mistakes were not the result of a last-minute trend going Mrs. Clinton’s way . . .

Fourth, some have argued that the unusually high turnout may have caused a problem for the pollsters . . .

To my mind, all these factors deserve further study. But another possible explanation cannot be ignored – the longstanding pattern of pre-election polls overstating support for black candidates among white voters, particularly white voters who are poor.

For Andrew Kohut, a man who makes a career of research, those who conduct polls, and calculate statistical information gathered, are not to blame for discrepancies.  The data is flawless.  The people who respond to a survey are the problem.  Kohut claims humans lie to hide their bigotry.  The rift is realized in race relations.  

That conclusion might be also be disputed.  Indeed, we can hear the quarrel now  Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and their respective spouses spew venom, as they discuss the role of Civil Rights Leader, Martin Luther King Junior   America revisits the achievements of a peaceful African-American leader, and we discover perceptions differ.

Nonetheless, we cannot negate what has been an obvious concern long before this recent election, electronic elections are not fully certifiable.  The process New Hampshire authorities adopted  is arguably better than the techniques many other States use, still the optical scanners are a less than a secure system.

Perhaps, we must consider that charts and editorial information furnished, while interesting, do not lessen the need for our shared concern.  For those that think there is a well-crafted campaign to conspire, we are likely to hear, “Hackers would not wish to leave an easily observable trail.”  For those who do not necessarily fear a plot to alter or obfuscate the results, there is a consensus humans are fallible.  Programmers are not perfect.  Nor are locks.

One brand of machine leads in market share by a sizable margin: the AccuVote, made by Diebold Election Systems. Two weeks ago, however, Diebold suffered one of the worst kinds of public embarrassment for a company that began in 1859 by making safes and vaults.

Edward W. Felten, a professor of computer science at Princeton, and his student collaborators conducted a demonstration with an AccuVote TS and noticed that the key to the machine’s memory card slot appeared to be similar to one that a staff member had at home.

When he brought the key into the office and tried it, the door protecting the AccuVote’s memory card slot swung open obligingly. Upon examination, the key turned out to be a standard industrial part used in simple locks for office furniture, computer cases, jukeboxes – and hotel minibars.

Once the memory card slot was accessible, how difficult would it be to introduce malicious software that could manipulate vote tallies? That is one of the questions that Professor Felten and two of his students, Ariel J. Feldman and J. Alex Halderman, have been investigating. In the face of Diebold’s refusal to let scientists test the AccuVote, the Princeton team got its hands on a machine only with the help of a third party.

Even before the researchers had made the serendipitous discovery about the minibar key, they had released a devastating critique of the AccuVote’s security. For computer scientists, they supplied a technical paper; for the general public, they prepared an accompanying video. Their short answer to the question of the practicality of vote theft with the AccuVote: easily accomplished.

The researchers demonstrated the machine’s vulnerability to an attack by means of code that can be introduced with a memory card. The program they devised does not tamper with the voting process. The machine records each vote as it should, and makes a backup copy, too.

Every 15 seconds or so, however, the rogue program checks the internal vote tallies, then adds and subtracts votes, as needed, to reach programmed targets; it also makes identical changes in the backup file. The alterations cannot be detected later because the total number of votes perfectly matches the total number of voters. At the end of the election day, the rogue program erases itself, leaving no trace.

Computers, cared for, corrupted, and programmed by people, can be as a compulsively confounding as a poll worker.  A central processing unit, by rote, will remove the excess waste as mindlessly as a human might endeavor to do.  In days of old, poll-workers were the problem.  A misplaced bag of ballots or a box filled to the brim with bogus paper ballots was the reason anxious Americans sought a better system.  Mechanical means were thought to eliminate human error or manipulation.

Some elections officials next adopted lever machines, which record each vote mechanically. But lever machines have problems of their own, not least that they make meaningful recounts impossible because they do not preserve each individual vote. Beginning in the 1960s, they were widely replaced by punch-card systems, in which voters knock holes in ballots, and the ballots can be stored for a recount. Punch cards worked for decades without controversy.

Until, of course, the electoral fiasco of 2000. During the Florida recount in the Bush-Gore election, it became clear that punch cards had a potentially tragic flaw: “hanging chads.” Thousands of voters failed to punch a hole clean through the ballot, turning the recount into a torturous argument over “voter intent.” On top of that, many voters confused by the infamous “butterfly ballot” seem to have mistakenly picked the wrong candidate. Given Bush’s microscopic margin of victory – he was ahead by only a few hundred votes statewide – the chads produced the brutal, month long legal brawl over how and whether the recounts should be conducted.

The 2000 election illustrated the cardinal rule of voting systems: if they produce ambiguous results, they are doomed to suspicion. The election is never settled in the mind of the public. To this date, many Gore supporters refuse to accept the legitimacy of George W. Bush’s presidency; and by ultimately deciding the 2000 presidential election, the Supreme Court was pilloried for appearing overly partisan.

Partisan politics is perhaps the truer issue.  Even those that do not ascribe to conspiracy theories, doubt their opponent.  The “enemy” in an election may be the corporations, the rival candidate, the government, or anyone who might garner support in opposition to a particular voter.  Jonathon marvels at the foes that lurk in the shadows.  People he does not know and perchance, personally, never will, are those he does not trust.

In New Hampshire, the electorate attempted to approve the best of both worlds.  Paper ballots are used in every precinct.  Granted, all votes are cast on traceable tallies.  However, recounts, such as the one now proposed by Presidential hopeful, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, may not be possible in the way a verification of the vote once was.  

Consider the plight of Elections Director Jane Platten, in Cuyahoga County Ohio., At 3 in the morning on November 7, at the “end” of a twenty-two hour workday, the too-tired public service official said, “I guess we’ve seen how technology can affect an election.”  The electronic voting machines in Cleveland were once again a source of trouble, and the reason for more time spent on the job.

All went well for a while.  Voter turnout was light on that fateful day.  About 200,000 voters strode through the polls, tapped their choices onto the county’s 5,729 touch-screen voting machines, and gladly turned in their electronic memory cards ready for the count.  All security procedures were followed.  Then the fun began.  

Suddenly, at 10 Post Meridian the server froze, as did all operations.  No votes could be counted.  Technicians gathered.  A young, and well-dressed employee from Diebold, the company that manufactures the equipment used in Cuyahoga elections , entered the scene; yet offered no solutions.  No one could figure out what was wrong. Ultimately, the election workers did what people do.  They cut the power.  The hope was the machine would clear its “mind,” rest a bit, return refreshed, and then begin the calculations anew.

This seemed to work, until the system crashed a again. Once more, the staff rebooted the computer and resumed the count. Gleefully, the computation was completed.

Worse was yet to come. When the votes were finally tallied the next day, 10 races were so close that they needed to be recounted. But when Platten went to retrieve paper copies of each vote – generated by the Diebold machines as they worked – she discovered that so many printers had jammed that 20 percent of the machines involved in the recounted races lacked paper copies of some of the votes.  They weren’t lost, technically speaking; Platten could hit “print” and a machine would generate a replacement copy.  But she had no way of proving that these replacements were, indeed, what the voters had voted. She could only hope the machines had worked correctly

 

As demonstrated repeatedly, the readable receipt may have been altered. The tangible total may not be as accurate as presumed.  Evidence of the discrepancies is everywhere.  

The infamous Diebold [now Premier election solutions] optical scanner voting machine is used to tally fifty-eight [58] percent of the votes, or 175 of New Hampshire’s 301 precincts ballots.  The AccuVote optical scan machines were the only mechanisms independent-minded New Hampshire residents would accept.  Nonetheless, even this apparatus is troublesome.  Persons such as Jonathon, a man anxious for change, and committed to the democratic process of elections, has had many a sleepless night since realizing his vote may not count.

Jonathon, his wife, children, parents, friends, and neighbors may need to be contacted, to vote again if we are to establish how they voted.  Even then, others would wonder; will the truth be told?

Jonathon understands as do many concerned citizens, the Diebold trail, regardless of how secure the equipment is advertised to be, can be diverted.  Diebold itself has done much to redirect the flow of information.

On November 17th, 2005, an anonymous Wikipedia user deleted 15 paragraphs from an article on e-voting machine-vendor Diebold, excising an entire section critical of the company’s machines. While anonymous, such changes typically leave behind digital fingerprints offering hints about the contributor, such as the location of the computer used to make the edits.

In this case, the changes came from an IP address reserved for the corporate offices of Diebold itself. And it is far from an isolated case. A new data-mining service launched Monday traces millions of Wikipedia entries to their corporate sources, and for the first time puts comprehensive data behind longstanding suspicions of manipulation, which until now have surfaced only piecemeal in investigations of specific allegations.

In spite of attempts to alter any information available on Diebold, the company continues to garner much attention.  Each election cycle generates greater concerns than the one preceding it.  The New Hampshire primaries are no exception.

This method is highly vulnerable to error and manipulation; although many may quibble the authenticity of this claim.  Nonetheless, after much scrutiny and many experiments, the truth was told.  Jonathon recalls the news report.

Election Whistle-Blower Stymied by Vendors

After Official’s Criticism About Security, Three Firms Reject Bid for Voting Machines

By Peter Whoriskey?

Washington Post?

Sunday, March 26, 2006; A07

Miami — Among those who worry that hackers might sabotage election tallies, Ion Sancho is something of a hero.

The maverick elections supervisor in Leon County, Fla., last year helped show that electronic voting machines from one of the major manufacturers are vulnerable, according to experts, and would allow election workers to alter vote counts without detection.

Now, however, Sancho may be paying an unexpected price for his whistle-blowing: None of the state-approved companies here will sell him the voting machines the county needs.

“I’ve essentially embarrassed the current companies for the way they do business, and now I believe I’m being singled out for punishment by the vendors,” he said.

There are three vendors approved to sell voting equipment in Florida, and each has indicated it cannot or will not fill Sancho’s order for 160 voting machines for the disabled. Already, he has had to return a $564,000 federal grant to buy the machines because he has been unable to acquire the machines yet.

“I’m very troubled by this, to be honest — I can’t believe the way he’s being treated,” said David Wagner, a computer scientist at the University of California at Berkeley who sits on a California board that reviews voting machine security. “What kind of message is this sending to elections supervisors?”

The trouble began last year when Sancho allowed a Finnish computer scientist to test Leon County’s Diebold voting machines, a common type that uses an optical scanner to count votes from ballots that voters have marked. Diebold Election Systems is one of the largest voting machine companies in the United States.

While some tests showed that the system is resistant to outside attack, others showed that elections workers could alter the vote tallies by manipulating the removable memory cards in the voting machines, and do so without detection.

A Diebold spokesman scoffed at the results, and compared them to “leaving your car unlocked, with the windows down and keys left in the ignition and then acting surprised when your car is stolen.”

State officials similarly played down the results.

But last month, California elections officials arranged for experts to perform a similar analysis of the Diebold machines and also found them vulnerable — noting a wider variety of flaws than Sancho’s experts had. They characterized the vulnerabilities as “serious” but “fixable.”

“What he [Sancho] discovered was — oops — that the conventional wisdom was all wrong,” said Wagner, a member of the panel that reviewed the Diebold machines. “It was possible to subvert the memory card without detection.”

Rather than take responsibility for a system gone bad, voting machine manufacturers would rather not sell to any Supervisor that might question the quality of the hardware or software.  It seems obvious to all, regardless of the excuses, or rationalizations, no matter the method or the map, vote counts are always prone to error.  

Thus, Jonathon wonders is his will stronger than the way of these machines and the persons who program them.  The villainous touch-screen voting machines, were thought too problematic for New Hampshire voters.  Jon, his friends Julie, Helene, and Amy were among the vocal residents who expressed a need for caution.  However, these activists did not have the influence they hoped to have on official decisions.

In New Hampshire, as in much of the nation, technology was considered manifest destiny.  Throughout the country, the use of electronics to tally ballots was employed at great expense.  The cost in dollars can be overshadowed only by the lose of liberty.  Countrywide, Americans ask . . .

Can You Count on Voting Machines?  For Jane Platten, Head of  Poll Worker Training and Voter Education Programs in Cuyahoga County, Ohio says, “No!”

In the lobby of Jane Plattten’s office in Cleveland sits an AccuVote-TSX, made by Diebold. It is the machine that Cuyahoga County votes on, and it works like this: Inside each machine, there is a computer roughly as powerful and flexible as a modern hand-held organizer. It runs Windows CE as its operating system, and Diebold has installed its own specialized voting software to run on top of Windows. When the voters tap the screen to indicate their choices, the computer records each choice on a flash-memory card that fits in a slot on the machine, much as a flash card stores pictures on your digital camera.

At the end of the election night, these cards are taken to the county’s election headquarters and tallied by the GEMS server. In case a memory card is accidentally lost or destroyed, the computer also stores each vote on a different chip inside the machine; election officials can open the voting machine and remove the chip in an emergency.

But there is also a third place the vote is recorded. Next to each machine’s LCD screen, there is a printer much like one on a cash register. Each time a voter picks a candidate on screen, the printer types up the selections, in small, eight-point letters. Before the voter pushes “vote,” she’s supposed to peer down at the ribbon of paper – which sits beneath a layer of see-through plastic, to prevent tampering – and verify that the machine has, in fact, correctly recorded her choices. (She can’t take the paper vote with her as proof; the spool of paper remains locked inside the machine until the end of the day.)

Under Ohio law, the paper copy is the voter’s vote. The digital version is not. That’s because the voter can see the paper vote and verify that it’s correct, which she cannot do with the digital one. The digital records are, in essence, merely handy additional copies that allow the county to rapidly tally potentially a million votes in a single evening, whereas counting the paper ballots would take weeks. Theoretically speaking, the machine offers the best of all possible worlds. By using both paper and digital copies, the AccuVote promised Cuyahoga an election that would be speedy, reliable, and relatively inexpensive.

Little of this held true. When the machines were first used in Cuyahoga Country during the May 2006 primaries, costs ballooned – and chaos reigned. The poll workers, many senior citizens who had spent decades setting up low-tech punch-card systems, were baffled by the new computerized system and the rather poorly written manuals from Diebold and the county. “It was insane,” one former poll worker told me. “A lot of people over the age of 60, trying to figure out these machines.” Since the votes were ferried to the head office on small, pocketsize memory cards, it was easy for them to be misplaced, and dozens went missing.

On Election Day, poll workers complained that 143 machines were broken; dozens of other machines had printer jams or mysteriously powered down. More than 200 voter-card encoders – which create the cards that let voters vote – went missing. When the machines weren’t malfunctioning, they produced errors at a stunning rate: one audit of the election discovered that in 72.5 percent of the audited machines, the paper trail did not match the digital tally on the memory cards.

This was hardly the first such incident involving touch-screen machines. So it came as little surprise that Diebold, a company once known primarily for making safes and A.T.M.’s, subsequently tried to sell off its voting-machine business and, failing to find a buyer, last August changed the name of the division to Premier Election Solutions (an analyst told American Banker that the voting machines were responsible for “5 percent of revenue and 100 percent of bad public relations”).

Researchers at Princeton University are not surprised.  A comprehensive study, Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine, released in September 2006 revealed the hardware and software in question are not dependable.

Ed Felten [among the  authors of the report] is a computer scientist at Princeton University, and he has become famous for analyzing – and criticizing – touch-screen machines. In fact, the first serious critics of the machines – beginning 10 years ago – were computer scientists. One might expect computer scientists to be fans of computer-based vote-counting devices, but it turns out that the more you know about computers, the more likely you are to be terrified that they’re running elections.

This is because computer scientists understand, from hard experience, that complex software can’t function perfectly all the time. It’s the nature of the beast. Myriad things can go wrong. The software might have bugs – errors in the code made by tired or overworked programmers. Or voters could do something the machines don’t expect, like touching the screen in two places at once. “Computers crash and we don’t know why,” Felten told me. “That’s just a routine part of computers.”

It is true. Each day, many compatriots swear at electronic gadgetry.  Yet, as a nation, we spend millions in hopes that electronic equipment will work on Election Day.  Americans rely on these erratic electronic marvels to calculate our votes.  Citizens of this country count on defective Diebold voting machines to accurately compute what might be considered the most important decision, we, the people make.  Faulty software and hardware determine who will represent our country, and us.  

More than Jonathon has experienced a moment of frustration with a computer.  Election Boards are familiar with the scenario.

One famous example is the “sliding finger bug” on the Diebold AccuVote-TSX, the machine used in Cuyahoga. In 2005, the state of California complained that the machines were crashing. In tests, Diebold determined that when voters tapped the final “cast vote” button, the machine would crash every few hundred ballots. They finally intuited the problem: their voting software runs on top of Windows CE, and if a voter accidentally dragged his finger downward while touching “cast vote” on the screen, Windows CE interpreted this as a “drag and drop” command. The programmers hadn’t anticipated that Windows CE would do this, so they hadn’t programmed a way for the machine to cope with it. The machine just crashed.

Even extremely careful programmers can accidentally create bugs like this. But critics also worry that touch-screen voting machines aren’t designed very carefully at all. In the infrequent situations where computer scientists have gained access to the guts of a voting machine, they’ve found alarming design flaws.

In 2003, Diebold employees accidentally posted the AccuVote’s source code on the Internet; scientists who analyzed it found that, among other things, a hacker could program a voter card to let him cast as many votes as he liked. Ed Felten’s lab, while analyzing an anonymously donated AccuVote-TS (a different model from the one used in Cuyahoga County) in 2006, discovered that the machine did not “authenticate” software: it will run any code a hacker might surreptitiously install on an easily insertable flash-memory card.

After California’s secretary of state hired computer scientists to review the state’s machines last spring, they found that on one vote-tallying server, the default password was set to the name of the vendor – something laughably easy for a hacker to guess.

But the truth is that it’s hard for computer scientists to figure out just how well or poorly the machines are made, because the vendors who make them keep the details of their manufacture tightly held. Like most software firms, they regard their “source code” – the computer programs that run on their machines – as a trade secret. The public is not allowed to see the code, so computer experts who wish to assess it for flaws and reliability can’t get access to it. Felten and voter rights groups argue that this “black box” culture of secrecy is the biggest single problem with voting machines. Because the machines are not transparent, their reliability cannot be trusted.

For years, there has been much concern and more delay.  In 2007, the Senate decided to hold hearings on the security of voting machine.  Citizens who have long yearned for a viable paper trail inquire, why the wait.  For too long, Americans have known when electronic voting machines record the votes, counts are frequently flawed.  Nevertheless, we continue as we have.  

Currently, in the United States, approximately eighty-seven [87] percent of the votes are frozen in computer chips.  Elections remain entrusted to miniature wires, soldered into plastic boards, and so too is America’s future. Adults in the United States are told to vote; our participation makes a difference.  So, cast your ballot with confidence, and know that even if your vote is counted, it may not count.

Sources, Secret Codes, Software, and Scanners . . .

Alert; 10,000 Apply For Wal-Mart Jobs!

copyright © Judith Moriarty

Candidates having been raising millions of dollars  and traveling (or private jets) around the country in luxury buses,  arguing over who has the most ‘experience’ – who is a Mormon (therefore disqualified) – who’s not a true Republican (Ron Paul) who’s picking on Hillary (Edwards) – who can grab the Evangelical vote – who is totally ignored (Kucinich) – who claims 911 makes him the protector of us all  etc; the real story of what is happening in America (evictions – foreclosures – unemployment) is being totally ignored!

This EXPERIENCE from those who’ve been in Foggy Bottom so long that they’re mildewed  –  has resulted in the rusting and disappearance of the American dream.


10,000 hopefuls…keep eyes open for job at Wal-Mart

By Helena Oliviero

Atlantic Journal Constitution

January 11, 2008

10,000 keep eyes open for job at Wal-Mart. “For the fourth consecutive day people waited in long lines for a shot at a new Wal-Mart in Dekalb County, pushing the total number of applicants beyond 10,000!

Beginning Monday, after no advertising or any signs, the throngs of hopeful applicants continued to pour into a church converted into a job-processing center –all vying for only 350 available jobs.  The job seeking FRENZY may be a peek into a larger economic picture. Wal-Mart has long declined to reveal starting salaries at the store, but reports that the average hourly wage for full time  associates is $10.65 an hour.”

Note: Wal-Mart hires people on at mostly part time positions.  Most alarming  is that Wal-Mart is our nation’s largest employer .  We no longer mfg the quality goods that America was known for. Now Wal-Mart is filled with Chinese goods of inferior quality !  Ten dollars an hour  is not a livable wage in these economic times of escalating prices!

JM

  • 10,000 hopefuls…keep eyes open for job at Wal-Mart, By Helena Oliviero.  Atlantic Journal Constitution. January 11, 2008

  • Presidential Candidates and the People; Politics is Personal

    copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

    A tired and emotionally torn Hillary Clinton trembled slightly as she voiced her concern for the country and her campaign.  A somewhat shaken Senator said, “You know, this is very personal for me. It’s not just political.  It’s not just public.  I see what’s happening . . . It’s really about all of us together.”  Indeed, Senator Clinton, it is.

    For months, former Senator John Edwards has shared a similar sentiment.   Once more, in an interview with ABC News George Stephanopoulos, Presidential hopeful Edwards emphatically declared, “I want to be the president who fights for the middle class, fights for working people. The kind of people I grew up with, George. I said this last night. This is not abstract or academic for me. It is personal.”

    Republican hopeful, Mitt Romney also embraced the phraseology a month earlier.  In a campaign advertisement released in his home state of Michigan, Mitt reminded the voters, “For me, Michigan is personal.” The place of our birth, the era in which we evolved, the circumstances of our lives are all personal, as are our reactions to these. When we cast a ballot in favor of a policy or a Presidential aspirant, as profound as we wish the decision would appear to be, essentially it is personal.

    Each and every individual is influenced by what occurs in the privacy of his or her home.  Our hearts speak more loudly than our minds.  However, reluctant we are to admit this, humans are emotional beings, who rationalize their resolutions, often after the fact.  

    The New Hampshire primary elections, as well as the Iowa caucuses were stark reminders of the fact, we cannot predict what people will do.  However, if we understand what truly motivates us, we may better understand the incomprehensible.  From the moment we enter this Earthly existence, we learn what is Right, Left, Middle, or ‘just wrong.’  

    Mommy exclaimed, “Do not do that; it is inappropriate.”  Daddy declared, “No more.  What will the neighbors think?”  Grandpa gave the evil eye when he thought some word or deed not becoming of a little lady.  Grandma gently tapped young Sammy’s small hand when the lass reached for what the older woman thought unacceptable.  Brother James also guided the girl’s decisions.  “What are you; crazy?” he would say.  James’s manner was never gentle.  Sammy’s nursery school teacher was far kinder, although equally critical.  “Young women do not do that.”  “We do not speak that way in class, on the playground, in the cloak room.”  “I hope you do not do that at home!”

    What Sammy did at home was never correct.  She wanted so much to be appreciated, especially by her elders.  Even among her peers, Sammy felt it vital to feel needed, wanted, valued, and cherished.  She realized at a tender age, that if she was to be happy, she must obey the rules.  Sammy learned to be a good girl.  Today, she still is.  When voting in the Presidential primaries and in the General election, Sammy will cast a ballot for the candidate her friends’ vote for.  Conventional wisdom is always best.  

    There is a certain contentment you feel when others concur with your opinion.  Life is calm  Sammy, prefers agreement; she wants no arguments.  Perhaps, that is why she struggled to decide, whom would she vote for.

    Sammy remained undecided up until she spoke with acquaintances of the Clinton cry.  Although Sammy and her friends were not Clinton constituents, indeed, they feared she might be soulless, ultimately; each plans to cast a ballot for the candidate.  Just as women in New Hampshire expressed, it would feel good to possibly place a woman in the White House.  The tears Hillary shed resonated within many of the “gentler sex.”  They thought the candidate’s cry was a show of strength.  Throughout America, and New Hampshire women [and men alike] personally identified with the pain Senator Clinton expressed.

    Some New Hampshire women admitted they were touched by Clinton’s display of vulnerability at a local cafe, when a voter asked her how she remained so upbeat and Clinton’s eyes, in turn, became misty.

    “When I saw the tear-up replayed on the news, it looked like Clinton was truly moved.  It proved she had soul,” said Carol Brownwood, a New Hampshire voter and Clinton supporter.

    New Hampshire women voted for Clinton by a margin of 13 percentage points over Obama, according to exit polls.

    James, Sammy’s sibling, was never much for conventions.  He was a rebel.  For him every issue was a cause.  As an adult, James will likely not vote for the most popular candidate.  He plans to weigh every angle, assess each agenda.  James will do his own research before he decides whom to support in the Presidential Election of 2008.

    Even as a youngster, James had a mind of his own.  He knew what was truly important and what was trivial.  It did not much matter to James what his Mom or Dad might think.  This chap was certain when he thought a particular point of view right or wrong.  While James valued his parents’ opinions, and he did, he was his own person.

    When James screamed “No,” at the age of two, it was not a phase; this tot could be authentically defiant.  No matter his age, James was never afraid to speak up.  “You are just wrong,” he would tell his mother or father.  In truth, James often took what his parents thought to heart.  However, he would never give Mom, Dad, or most anyone else, the satisfaction of knowing that he thought their opinion wiser than his own.

    In his youth, James was independent and strong.  Competitions were his pleasure.  Enrolled in Little League, Soccer, and Football at an early age, James learned to be a sportsman.  He understood how important it was to win.  He still does.  

    Throughout his life, James has been a fighter.  In college, the young man was considered a radical.  He protested for peace.  The little guy was his friend.  An underdog could soar when in the company of James.  He cared for his fellow man deeply.  This chap worked on a political campaign.  He was an activist, and he was motivated to make more of his life.  James studied as hard as he played.

    Later, as an attorney, James did not shy away from a fight.  In his professional career, he retains his principles.  While James could make scads more money as a corporate lawyer, he serves the downtrodden.  James is known as an aggressive trial lawyer.  He fights for what is right.  John Edwards is his candidate of choice.  As he ponders the tales the populace aspirant tells, James relates. For James, just as for John Edwards, the battle for change is personal.

    One Edwards supporter, departing after a big rally in Des Moines on Saturday night, said he hasn’t heard a message as passionate or strong since Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign.

    Nice clothes aside, Edwards has turned street-fighter for the final stretch run.  His message can be boiled down to a single word — “Fight!” — which he repeats over and over and over and over again: Fight.  Fight.  Fight.  Fight.

    Edwards has rolled out anecdotes he never used in the past to make it all the more personal.  They conjure up images that hardly square with his slight frame and good looks.  He was, as he now explains, a brawler as a kid, taking on bullies the way he later took on corporations and insurance companies as a trail lawyer.

    “Like many of you, I had to fight to survive,” he told an audience of nearly a thousand people on Saturday night.  “I mean really.  Literally.”

    He describes the southern mill town where he grew up as a tough little place and tells the story of getting into a fight one day with an older boy.  “Got my butt kicked,” he says.  When he got home, his father offered a stern lesson in life.

    “I don’t ever want to hear, son, about you starting a fight,” he says his father told him.  “But you listen to me and listen to me clearly.  I don’t want to ever hear that you walked away from one.  Because if you’re not willing to stand up for yourself and if you’re not willing to fight, no one will stand up for you.”

    Emma, James closest friend is not a fighter.  She is a woman, yet, not one who sees herself as a warrior. While Emma might love to have a woman in the Oval Office, she does not want Hillary Clinton to be her President.  John Edwards does not move this passionate person.  Too often Edwards goes negative.  Emma experienced enough combativeness in her life.  She is turned off by the fervor she experienced in her family home.  

    Emma grew up in a good home.  Her parents are well-educated.  Each, is a professional in his or her own right.  Economically, her family is considered Upper Middle Class.  By all appearances, this young woman has had a good life.  She and her folks are healthy, slightly wealthy, and definitely wise.   However, when Emma was young, she realized, for her Mom and her Dad, every event was a drama, a trauma, a crisis, or a catastrophe.

    Emma often hid under the bed, went to another room, spent time at a neighbor’s home, just to avoid the chaos she experienced when with her relatives.  As the little girl blossomed, she realized there was fun to be had.  “You cannot choose your family, but fortunately, you can choose your friends.”  A cheerleader, a “Journalist” on the school newspaper, active in a school leadership program, Emma was quite popular.

    Academically, Emma had been and continues to be a serious student.  She is enrolled in graduate school, and is doing very well.  She is enthusiastic and energetic; however, she has never been energized by politics . . . that is until now.  Although, in the past, Emma defined herself as apathetic, now she sees herself as an activist.   Emma intends to vote for Barack Obama.  She feels as many throughout the country do.  Individuals, particularly those in her age are excited.  This may be the first time Emma will vote in an election.  She is stoked and not alone in her excitement.  Since hearing Obama speak, for Emma, this election is now personal.

    “I just started hearing a lot about him last year, so I started doing my own research,” says Kinkead. “I wanted to know who this guy was that everyone was talking about. I know he has a liberal voting record in the Senate, but he just seems so open-minded to me. He’ll be able to work with Republicans and get stuff accomplished. Hillary Clinton has too much baggage.”

    Young voters helped propel Obama’s win in Iowa and McCain’s in New Hampshire. Exit polls in New Hampshire indicated that 31 percent of the youngest GOP voting group went for McCain, with 23 percent voting for Romney; 51 percent of young Democrats supported Obama, while 28 percent supported Clinton.

    In Iowa, Obama won 57 percent of the youth vote, compared to 11 percent for Clinton.

    The social networking site Facebook has been a huge hub of political interest, with students flocking to Obama on the Democratic side  . . .

    Others in the cyberspace community may be connected however, the do not wish to join the rally for Ron Paul nor do the oratory skills of Barack Obama sway them.  Beth is among those who walks to the beat of a different drummer.  This woman is not old or young; however, just as the candidates and constituents she too is deeply affected by her history.  Beth’s parents were and are scholars.  Amidst her earliest memories, Beth recalls research.  Daddy would ask her of newspaper articles she read.  The discussions were deep.  He was not only interested in her superficial comprehension skills he wanted to be certain his daughter became a critical thinker.

    Mommy’s style differed; however, the intent, and results were similar.  Beth’s Mom, a brilliant woman, read endlessly.  She spoke of all the information she devoured.  This highly erudite parent encouraged her daughter to be herself, not part of a group, not identified by her gender, not even rigidly tied to which hand she preferred to write with.  Beth, just as her mother, never fit in, and she was fine with that.  Mommy and Daddy were principled people, not influenced by peers or popularity, and so too is Beth.  Perchance that is why she supports Dennis Kucinich.  She feels personally obligated to her country and all the people.  For Beth ethics matters more than an election win.  

    I think the question isn’t whether I have a chance. The question is whether peace, health care, jobs for all have a chance. Everyone participating in this chat, everyone reading it, needs to ask what this election means for them. If it means not staying in Iraq until 2013, then perhaps people should consider my plan to leave Iraq immediately and employ an international peacekeeping force. If you want peace in the world, consider that I’m the only candidate who rejects war as an instrument of foreign policy.

    This isn’t just about Iraq or Iran, this is about a president wise enough to work with leaders in the world to avoid conflict.  While I wouldn’t hesitate to defend our country, I’ve shown more than any other candidate that I understand the difference between defense and offense. . . .  I’m the only candidate running who voted against the war and against funding for the war. To me it’s inconceivable to say you oppose a war you’ve given hundreds of billions of dollars to.

    If people are participating in this and are concerned that they have an outcome in this election that relates to their needs, they should know that I’m the only candidate who would create a not-for-profit health care system that would cover everyone.

    No other candidate is saying they would cancel NAFTA and the WTO — I’ve seen the devastation wrought by these agreements. I’ve stood in front of the locked plant gates, with grass growing in the parking lots. I’ve seen the boarded-up nearby business communities, the neighborhoods where people had to leave because they couldn’t pay their mortgages.

    I’m the only candidate talking about a profoundly different energy policy, moving aggressively toward wind, solar, and investing heavily in green energy, reorganizing the government along principles of sustainability. We have to challenge these oil companies — we’re in a war in Iraq because of oil, one of the principle reasons we’d attack Iran is because of oil, we continue to destabilize our relations with Russia because of oil.

    It’s time for Washington to get control of our energy polices, and the only way we may be able to do that is to take control of the oil companies. We cannot sacrifice our young men and women on the altar of oil. We must regain control in the nation, of our ability to truly be a government of the people, by the people and for the people. That’s why I’m running for president, and in the end if I win, the people of the United States will win.

    For a time, people, from various backgrounds, also endorsed Dennis J. Kucinich.  Beth met declared Democrats, Independent minded Greens, Libertarians, and even Republicans who thought the Congressman from Ohio was the only one who could and would turn this country around in a way that gratified them personally.  

    A wide breadth of the population thought the Presidential hopeful would be the best for the country as a whole.  However, as is oft occurs, personal perceptions became the reality. The true Progressive, Congressman Kucinich was haunted by a claim continually, reiterated by Americans, “Kucinich is not electable.”  This statement was frequently preceded by the phrase, “Kucinich is great, but . . .”   Group think set in.

    Intellectuals, pundits, so called professional political analysts, and regular persons would  say this is not so; however, as we assess human behavior, it is a challenge to think otherwise.

    A public less aware of the dynamics of a caucus, or familiar with a seventy-two page rulebook, concludes a decision to influence a voter’s second-choice in Iowa might be thought a sign of weakness; perhaps a concession, or even an endorsement.  Some avid Kucinich supporters began to question the candidate’s faith in his campaign.  More importantly, many Kucinich backers felt personally abandoned.  The slogan “Strength through peace,” was less forceful than this allowance.  To suggest an alternative commitment may be less strong than the sweet smell of freshly baked bread or a promise to stroke your back if you rub mine

    Intimidation is not unknown. Also, it is possible for a leading candidate to help a weaker rival against a stronger one.

    More often, though, the gaming of the caucus and the wooing of supporters is subtler.

    In a training video prepared by the Edwards campaign, for example, a cartoon precinct campaign named Joe leaves for the caucus with a calculator, Edwards signs, and fresh bread. The narrator explains: “His homemade bread is perfectly positioned. Everyone can see it and smell it, especially the undecideds.”

    Then, too, “there are always stories of ‘I’ll shovel your walk the next time it snows,’ ” said Norm Sterzenbach, Iowa Democratic Party political director.

    While these tactics are troublesome, perhaps what worries supporters of any candidate is their own “personal” standing . . . in the community, in a crowd, in the cavern known as their rational mind.

    Might we speculate as to why a presumed front-runner receives more funds in support?  After a primary win, contributions come in.  Every person in the electorate scrutinizes a candidate and the company he or she keeps.  The assumed quality of a spouse can be an asset or a deterrent to the campaign.  If nothing else, when humans are involved, whom a Presidential hopeful weds, why, or when, will certainly be a distraction.  Americans, humans are invested in the personal.  People ponder their lives and wish to know what occurs in the lives of others.

    Politics is personal.  Running Mates, and these are not possible Vice Presidential choices, warrant an in-depth and detailed article in the Washington Post.  These individual have greater access to the future President than any other person might.  If Americans elect x, y will have the President’s ear, heart, body, and soul in their hands.  The electorate believes spouses are significant.  The personal permeates the political, or at least, Newsweek Magazine thought so.  This periodical devoted a full spread to the Bill factor.

    His New Role

    By Jonathan Darman

    Newsweek

    August 21, 2007

    “Man, I like that stuff,” Bill Clinton said. “I shouldn’t eat it, but I like it.” It was Sunday, March 4. On a private plane headed south from New York, the former leader of the free world was staring hard at a fully stocked bowl of food. A recovering snack-addict since his quadruple-bypass surgery in 2004, Clinton was thinking about falling off the wagon with a few bags of Fritos and some granola bars. No one on the plane was going to stop him-certainly not Malcolm Smith. The Democratic minority leader of New York’s state Senate, Smith was just happy to be along for the ride. “He sat right in front of me,” Smith later gushed to a Newsweek reporter. “We shared the food.” . . .

    For Hillary’s campaign, “The Bill Factor” is a complex one. To some he’s a shrewd politician, a clear thinker, a brilliant explicator who was president during an era of relative peace and indisputable prosperity. To others he’s “Slick Willie,” an undisciplined man who let his private appetites, and his addiction to risk, blur his focus, distracting the country for much of his second term.

    Nonetheless, a polished President offers the public a sense of personal security.  The Clintons are a known entity.  They have a traditional marriage, and they have proven themselves in many arenas.  Regardless of whether or not  you agree with their positions, the two are accomplished; certainly not on the fringe.  

    Barack Obama is also quite an achiever.  Born to parents who separated when the future Harvard scholar, United States Senator, and front-running Presidential aspirant was but two years of age, Barack  Obama went on to create a stunning and successful Christian family of his own.

    When wife Michelle Robinson Obama is by the candidate’s side, audiences marvel.  The couple is physically beautiful.  The two are statuesque and poised.  Each is extremely accomplished.  Michelle Obama is the a vice president at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Initially she was criticized for retaining this position during the campaign.  However, since she agreed to reduce her workload and currently works far fewer hours than she had, the public, many of whom took her to task for her “personal” life, are now content.  People specifically enjoy how real this spouse is.

    [Michelle] She has revealed that the man who may become the world’s most powerful politician is sometimes banished to the spare room for being “kind of snory and stinky.” He also admits obeying her instructions to give up smoking before the campaign.

    [Michelle] Obama got off to a rocky start in her early speeches when she talked about her husband’s dirty socks and how he was “stinky” in the morning, an image people perhaps might have found a little too human. Those references have since been dropped from her stump speech, and she’s not giving many interviews these days.

    On the other hand, Elizabeth Edwards volunteers to speak to anyone, everyone.  Wife of John Edwards, Elizabeth, is equally at ease in most any situation.  She does not hesitate to speak her mind.  

    Elizabeth Edwards will say in one breath that her job is made easier by the fact there are now “so many more female role models in careers like entertainment, the media and politics.”  But she will also say she’s not about to make the same mistakes Clinton did.

    “Hillary Clinton in 1992 is a lesson in what not to do,” offers Edwards, also a lawyer by training, whose husband is one of Clinton’s opponents in the presidential race. “She was dismissive of the range of options women had chosen, declaring, ‘I don’t bake cookies. . . . I don’t stand by my man.’ That turned off some people.”

    Elizabeth Edwards has been startlingly outspoken during this campaign, calling in to a live news-talk program to take on right-wing pundit Ann Coulter on national television and saying there was too much “hatred” of Hillary Clinton for her to win the general election. She maintains she’s not behaving much differently from 2004, when her husband was the Democratic vice presidential nominee. “There’s just a lot more coverage,” says Edwards, who has received additional attention since revealing she is battling incurable cancer.

    In a campaign where every issue is personal, even illness can be the cause for insults.  John was judged harshly as he continued to campaign.  Some said he was consumed with ambition.  Many mused, why did Elizabeth not take it easy.  The drive to the White House is long and hard.

    Nonetheless, many men, women, and spouses seem up to the challenge.  As we learned in what many thought to be a “personal” attack, some aspirants thought to seek the presidency when they were in kindergarten.  Others decided later in life.  Each has a history of profound accomplishments achieved at an early age.  As Americans, we appreciate a good wunderkind tale.  

    In this country, the legendary captivates our attention.  After all, we all wish to aspire to excellence.  The excellence achieved by another gives us reason to believe, and we do have personal stake in a candidate’s story.  

    Another aspirant also has a tale to tell.  At an early age, Dennis Kucinich was also considered a genius.  He had dreams and accomplished more than most thirty-one year olds.  Dennis Kucinich was elected Mayor of a major city, Cleveland, Ohio.  The young public official stood on principle against a corporate giant and saved the city and the community millions.  While the yarn is legendary, it is not as distinguished or as frequently discussed as wife, Elizabeth Kucinich is.

    True, English born Elizabeth Kucinich is not close in age to her husband, as are the wives of numerous other candidates.  Conservatives John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Fred Thompson married women much younger than they.  However, that is but a minor source of intrigue.  What mesmerizes America and is among the stories supporters felt a need to stave off is the metal in the exquisite woman’s mouth.

    O’Donnell: I have to ask you about two very interesting things. Because America has had a traditional of having traditional first ladies, if you will. You would be the youngest first lady ever if your husband were elected president. You have a tongue ring. What about that?

    E. Kucinich: What about that?

    O’Donnell: Well, it’s very unusual. I don’t know that there are many political spouses who have tongue rings.

    E. Kucinich: I’m 30 years old. I’ve had it for 10 years. I don’t see it as being a problem. I do still wear pearls.

    The English Elizabeth Kucinich hints at the truth the American electorate is embarrassed to avow.  In this country, politics, policy, and proposals do not garner support.  A president is not placed into the Oval Office when the constituents prefer his or her plan.  Appearances matter more than the issues or a solid, substantive agenda.  

    Each ballot is a personal endorsement for a look, a life style, a gesture, a posture, and on rare occasions, a principle.  A vote for a candidate is an endorsement for the values of friends, family, business associates, and anyone who might judge an individual.  Americans want to elect a winner, someone whose rise, will add to a voters personal sense of worth.  

    Principally, what most Americans wonder about as they assess the Presidential contenders, what causes citizens of the States to worry, and weep is as a questioner in a recent debate inquired.  “Do you prefer diamonds or pearls?”  If a constituent thinks, he or she can “personally” relate to the answer a candidate delivers or the manner in which they reply, then that candidate can pack their bags and move into the White House on January 20th. In Election year 2008, Hillary, John, and Mitt are correct; for them, you, and me this process is personal.

    Personal, Personalities, Preferences . . .