Saturday, November 29, 2008

Occupation 101

If like me when growing up, some of you heard uneducated, racist cliches such as "They've been fighting over there since time immemorial" or "God gave the Jews that land" or "The Arabs want to push them into the sea" or "We're an isolationist country and should stay out of it" or Leon Uris novels were a fixture around your household, then please watch this extremely important film about the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

It's a breath of fresh air in the mummified face of those musty old apartheid myths.

Educated readers will immediately recognize the parallels between Occupied Palestine and Occupied Turtle Island.

Occupation 101
Synopsis

A thought-provoking and powerful documentary film on the current and historical root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unlike any other film ever produced on the conflict -- 'Occupation 101' presents a comprehensive analysis of the facts and hidden truths surrounding the never ending controversy and dispels many of its long-perceived myths and misconceptions.

The film also details life under Israeli military rule, the role of the United States in the conflict, and the major obstacles that stand in the way of a lasting and viable peace. The roots of the conflict are explained through first-hand on-the-ground experiences from leading Middle East scholars, peace activists, journalists, religious leaders and humanitarian workers whose voices have too often been suppressed in American media outlets.

The film covers a wide range of topics -- which include -- the first wave of Jewish immigration from Europe in the 1880's, the 1920 tensions, the 1948 war, the 1967 war, the first Intifada of 1987, the Oslo Peace Process, Settlement expansion, the role of the United States Government, the second Intifada of 2000, the separation barrier and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, as well as many heart wrenching testimonials from victims of this tragedy.

Link to the video at Google:

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Western Shoshone Call For Immediate Encampment



Western Shoshone Call For Immediate Encampment
WESTERN SHOSHONE ALERT:
By Brenda Norrell

MOUNT TENABO, WESTERN SHOSHONE TERRITORY --Western Shoshone are calling for immediate support and an encampment to protect the trees being ripped out by the roots for gold mining by Barrick Gold on sacred Mount Tenabo. Western Shoshone protested the destruction today and halted the damage for three hours. "They are piling up the trees like dead bodies," one of the Shoshone said. Western Shoshone Bill Larson urged supporters to come immediately and bring water, food, warm clothing, blankets and firewood for an encampment.

For support and media interviews:

Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone grandmother, 775-468-0230
Dan Randolph, Great Basin Resource Watch, 775-722-4056
Julie Cavanaugh-Bill, Western Shoshone Defense Project, 775-744-2565 or
wsdp@igc.org

See also: Shoshone Grandmothers Plan Resistance Day on Proposed Mine Site

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Schools Cancel Thanksgiving Dress Up



A hearty Huzzah! to Michelle Raheja.

Schools cancel Thanksgiving dress up
Published: Nov. 25, 2008 at 1:15 PM

CLAREMONT, Calif., Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Kindergartens in Claremont, Calif., canceled a Thanksgiving dress up after some parents criticized the tradition as demeaning to American Indians.

Until this year, Claremont kindergarten classes had celebrated the Tuesday before Thanksgiving by dressing as pilgrims and American Indians who share a feast and sing songs.

This year, educators canceled the dress up part after Michelle Raheja, the mother of a kindergartner at Condit Elementary School, said the schools were perpetuating a racist cartoonish stereotype, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

"I'm sure you can appreciate the inappropriateness of asking children to dress up like slaves (and kind slave masters), or Jews (and friendly Nazis), or members of any other racial minority group who has struggled in our nation's history," said Raheja, whose mother is a member of the Seneca tribe.

Parents angry that the event was to be held without costumes accused Raheja and her supporters of being elitists determined to inject politics into a simple children's celebration, the Times reported.

UN: Canada Must Investigate Cases Of Murdered Aboriginal Women

Hat tip to K for the link.

Take note of the racist comments on this story (at the link). How quickly they reveal the seething, psychotic underbelly that is white supremacist KKKanada. So because a woman is allegedly a runaway, or prostituted by the sex trade that somehow makes her murder less urgent? Or is "Aboriginal" all most settlers need to hear to give their assent to slaughter?

Canada must probe cases of slain, missing aboriginal women: UN
Last Updated: Monday, November 24, 2008 | 5:56 PM ET
The Canadian Press

The United Nations is calling on the Canadian government to investigate why hundreds of deaths and disappearances of aboriginal women remain unsolved.

It's asking Ottawa to report back in a year on the status of more than 500 cases that "have neither been fully investigated nor attracted priority attention, with the perpetrators remaining unpunished."

The UN committee on the elimination of discrimination against women wants Canada to "urgently carry out thorough investigations" to trace how and why the justice system failed.

"It also urges the state party to carry out an analysis of those cases in order to determine whether there is a racialized pattern to the disappearances and take measures to address the problem if that is the case," says one of more than 40 recommendations.

One aboriginal activist who has worked for years with families of missing native women says Canada doesn't need another study, and that racism is the all-too-common thread.

"Absolutely," said Sharon McIvor. "I'm an aboriginal woman that's grown up in this country. I know it's racism."

A federally funded $5-million study by the Native Women's Association of Canada concludes that 510 aboriginal girls and women have gone missing or been murdered since 1980. It calls for an emergency strategy.

Federal and provincial justice ministers said last September that they're improving how missing-person cases are handled, especially those involving native women.

Special task forces have been formed in Vancouver and Edmonton since dozens of women working in the sex trade in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside went missing over several years with little police or media response. Many were aboriginal.

Investigators finally banded together under pressure from distraught families and a series by the Vancouver Sun to zero in on now-convicted serial killer Robert Pickton.

McIvor said aboriginal girls and women from all walks of life are still being targeted, their disappearances treated with uneven and too often muted reaction.

She cited the unsolved case of Daleen Kay Bosse, who vanished after a night out with friends in Saskatoon on May 18, 2004. There was no hint that the aspiring teacher and photographer, just 26 years old, would simply abandon her life.

Her heartbroken mother, Pauline Muskego, spoke publicly a year later about the comparative lack of media interest.

"My daughter's face has never been shown nationally," she said.

McIvor said the general public mistakenly thinks such victims are living high-risk lifestyles.

"And that's not true. Her risk is, she's an aboriginal woman."

No comment from federal officials was immediately available.

The UN also raised alarms about lack of shelters for battered women and about Conservative government cuts that wiped out the court challenges program — funding that helped advance minority rights in the legal system.

© The Canadian Press, 2008

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Solidarity With Barriere Lake Algonquins

I'm a little behind on publishing this press release. Hat Tip to the Angryindian for the heads up.


More Barriere Lake Algonquin resistance photos at Flicker.

Press Release: Barriere Lake Algonquins Need Our Solidarity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Barriere Lake Algonquins peacefully blockade highway 117 in Northern Quebec a second time: despite fears of more police violence, community wants Quebec and Canada to respect agreements and Canada to end interference in leadership selection

Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory / - This morning at 7:30am, Barriere Lake community members of all ages and their supporters once again peacefully blockaded highway 117 outside their reserve, demanding that Quebec and Canada send in negotiators rather than resort to police violence. During the Algonquin's first blockade on October 6th, 2008, Quebec police used tear gas and "pain compliance" techniques against a peaceful crowd that included Elders, youth, and children, arrested nine people, and hospitalized a Customary Councillor after hitting him in the chest with a tear-gas canister, drawing criticism from international human rights groups, the Chiefs of Ontario, and the Christian Peacemakers Team. [ http://blip.tv/file/1391794 ]


The Algonquins promise to maintain the blockade until Canada and Quebec commit in writing to honour their agreements and Canada appoints an observer to witness and respect the outcome of a new leadership selection in Barriere Lake in accordance with their Customary Governance Code.

"Instead of doing the dirty work of the federal government, Quebec should implement its agreements and immediately lobby the federal government to deal fairly with our community," said Norman Matchewan, a community spokesperson on-site at the blockade. "Charest's brutal treatment of our community shows his government has absolutely no respect for the rights of Indigenous peoples, which should be an urgent matter of debate during the provincial election."


Barriere Lake wants Canada and Quebec to uphold signed agreements, dating back to the 1991 Trilateral Agreement, a landmark sustainable development and resource co-management agreement praised by the United Nations and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Canada has been in breach of the agreement since 2001. Quebec signed a complementary Bilateral agreement in 1998, but has stalled since two former Quebec Cabinet Ministers, Quebec special representative John Ciaccia and Barriere Lake special representative Clifford Lincoln, made recommendations for the agreement's implementation in 2006.

"To avoid their obligations, the federal government has deliberately violated our leadership customs by ousting our Customary Chief and Council," said Matchewan. "In what amounts to a coup d'etat, they are recognizing a Chief and Council rejected by a community majority. The Quebec government is cooperating with the federal government because they are using the leadership issue as an excuse to bury the 1991 and 1998 Agreements they signed with our First Nation."

In November 2007 the legitimate leadership of Barriere Lake had issued a ban on new forestry operations in the Trilateral Territory until Quebec implemented their agreements, but the province and forestry companies have used the leadership change as an opportunity to cut new logging roads [in preparation for logging operations] without permission from the legitimate Barriere Lake representatives.

On March 10th, 2008, for the third time in 12 years, the Government of Canada interfered in Barriere Lake's internal customary governance. They rescinded recognition of the Customary Chief and Council and recognized individuals whom the Barriere Lake Elder's Council says were not selected in accordance with their Customary Governance Code.

"The federal government pretends this is simply an internal issue," says Marylynn Poucachiche, another Barriere Lake spokesperson on-site. "But we can only resolve the situation if the federal government appoints an observer to witness a new leadership selection that is truly in accordance with our Customary Governance Code, promises to respect the outcome, and then stops interfering in our internal affairs."

In 2007, Quebec Superior Court Judge Rejean Paul issued a report that concluded that the current faction recognized by the federal government was a "small minority" that "didn't respect the Customary Governance Code" in an alleged leadership selection in 2006 [2]. The federal government recognized this minority faction after they conducted another alleged leadership selection in January 2008, even though an observer's report the government relied on stated there was no "guarantee" that the Customary Governance Code was respected [3].

The Algonquin Nation Secretariat, the Tribal Council representing three Algonquin communities including Barriere Lake, continues to recognize and work with Customary Chief Benjamin Nottaway and his Council.

In Montreal at noon, supporters of Barriere Lake will rally in front of the office of Premier Jean Charest at the southeast corner of McGill College and Sherbrooke.

-30-

Media Contacts:

Norman Matchewan, Barriere Lake spokesperson: 819 – 435 – 2171, 514 - 831 - 6902

Marylynn Poucachiche, Barriere Lake spokesperson:514 - 893 - 8283, 819 - 860 - 3860

Norman Young, Grand Chief of the Algonquin Nation Secretariat: 819 - 627 - 6869


Attached: Briefing Package and letter from Acting Chief Benjamin Nottaway to Premier Charest

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

White Power Gang Re-Captures Lance Hering


Lance Hering made a valiant effort to escape the white power gangbanger life that is the United States Marine Corps and its race war in Iraq, but the thugs in that fascist cult have re-captured him.

Lance Corporal Herring's kidnapping by these murderous press gangs is just one more reason why snitches get stitches and officers get fragged.

Hering found perfect wilderness town to hide
By Kevin Vaughan, Rocky Mountain News (Contact)
Published November 17, 2008 at 9:34 p.m.
Updated November 17, 2008 at 9:42 p.m.

A fisherman navigates foggy waters Monday at the Port Angeles Yacht Club in Port Angeles, Wash. The fog-shrouded town was the safe haven of Lance Cpl. Lance Hering prior to his arrest Sunday.


PORT ANGELES, Wash. — Lance Hering spent his final days of freedom among rolling woods and smothering fog that swoops in without warning to obscure hillside homes in the extreme northwest corner of the United States.

Hering, 23, was a long way from Eldorado Canyon State Park near Boulder, where he was reported missing Aug. 30, 2006, after a rock-climbing fall — a story that authorities later concluded was an elaborate ruse.

He was even farther from Camp Pendleton, Calif., and his former life in the U.S. Marine Corps, which had included multiple tours of duty in Iraq.

His wavy blond hair hung past his shoulders, his high, tight Marine buzz-cut long since grown out. A scraggly beard covered his face.

It was the kind of look that might not have been noticed in a city of roughly 18,000 people, where logging and shipping tourism all feed the local economy, where the police department has 32 officers, where the county courthouse has no metal detectors.

It was here, at the W.R. Fairchild International Airport on the west edge of town, that Port Angeles police officers swooped in Sunday afternoon and arrested both the Marine and his father, Lloyd Hering, of Boulder.

The arrests answered the immediate question — where was Lance Tyler Hering? — but didn't solve the mystery of where he had been for the last 26 months, of what he had been doing, of how it was that he came to be here, where fall colors — ambers and golds and crimsons — dappled the hillsides Monday.

A couple months ago, authorities searching for Hering had zeroed in on this area after a tip that he might be hiding out in Olympic National Park. The park is almost a million acres of forests, rugged canyons and sub-alpine meadows, a place where it would be easy for a young man to lose himself. And it's surrounded, in places, by both forest and wilderness land.

"We have a lot of access points around the park to the backcountry, to the wilderness," said Kevin Hendricks, chief ranger in the park. "There are many, many roads that access park trails."

It's the kind of place where one could survive.

"It's a rainy environment — there would be ample fresh water around," Hendricks said.

Still, Hendricks had no reports of Hering having been reported in the area, and no indications that park rangers had come across him during their patrols.

Deputy Police Chief Brian Smith also said it was not clear how long Hering had been in the area.

"That's still under investigation," he said.

As dusk settled in Monday evening, a few sailors worked on their rigging in the Port Angeles Harbor.

Just beyond their boats, a fog bank rolled across the Strait of Juan De Fuca, which separates this corner of Washington from Canada, a place where some young men of another generation went to escape another war.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Angryindian: Why An Obama White House Will Remain White

The Angryindian - wide awake in Amerika. Let him shake you from your stupor:

The Rise of the Hapa Emperor, or, Why an Obama White House will remain White

By The Angryindian
11.13.2008

“What did you expect when you unbound the gag that had muted those Black mouths? That they would chant your praises? Did you think that when those heads that our fathers had forcibly bowed down to the ground were raised again, you would find adoration in their eyes?”

Jean-Paul Sartre, Orphee Noir
-

Everything that could be said about the United States has been said aloud, copiously written about or whispered in hushed tones from behind the closed doors of collective public group-think. When Pax Americana advocates tout the imperialistic grandeur of the U.S., the discourse is commonly cloistered along the prescribed talking-points of American Exceptionalism rather than pragmatic realism. European as well as non-White American citizens and residents struggle to see themselves as the perfect society, a literal paradise on Earth with no moral equal while at the same time playing make believe that Indigenous genocide and African slavery were, and are, mere aberrations to this historical record.

On this occasion, namely the eve of the appointment of the first non-total-European to the most powerful seat of global Euro-settler power, it is imperative at this notable moment in the history of Euro-American colonial power to examine what a Barack Obama presidency really means in relation to America’s long and ugly record of ethno-social manipulation, economic marginalisation and aggressive territorial expansionism. This writer is not at all alone in stating that the biggest mistake the entire world, chiefly the non-European colonialized world, is making is in assuming that since a person of colour has been selected by the American economic and military authority structure that a “change” is coming not just in Washington D.C. but the planet as a whole. In particular, the factors that have created the Diaspora that has defined our existence since expansionist Europe found Africa and turned it into a supermarket for slaves and natural resources. On its face, this seemingly clean break from America’s long tradition of racial hatreds and the representation of powerful White men running the world appears to be complete. But is it?

Read the rest...

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Genocidal Marxists Pen An Anti-Indian Tirade

Here comes another anti-Indian obscenity, this one titled "Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry." [hat tip to K for the link]

Disrobing? As in ripping the clothes off of a person? What a rapacious name for a book, and perfectly appropos considering two pro-Occupation, white supremacist Canadians have written it. At one point the authors write, "We have to consider the question of what aboriginal communities would be like were it not for residential schools."

How about free of traumatized child-rape survivors?

From the article:

"Their new book, Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry, due out this month, is 260 pages of unspeakable challenges to what they consider the 'romantic mythology' of native culture, the 'quackery' of promoting traditional healing, the meaninglessness of 'traditional knowledge' and treacherous assertions that Indians were 'barbarians' before Europeans introduced to them 'civilization.'"

Excuse me? Since when have these racist ideas EVER been unspeakable? Honey, these ideas are not unspeakable; they're policy.

The authors are clearly two irrational nutters more than willing to attack Indigenous peoples' beliefs, which THEY CLAIM lead to unworkable relationships with Industry. But they are not willing to attack the irrational system of belief known as white supremacist capitalist patriarchy which sanctifies (with damn near papal infallibility) that same earth-raping Industry in the first place.

Ha! Marxism - just another despiritualized, mechanized, techno-utopian excuse for theft and murder. In these witch burners hands, anyway.

Watch out! Here comes whitey with his "economically questionable" yardstick with which to measure the way you give your world meaning. Never mind that his obsession with money and power makes him believe stock markets are "bears" and "bulls."

Once again, the predator blames his victims for their marginalization and isolation, not to mention their dispossession and subjugation.

I believe I will go say a prayer now that these two purveyors of genocidal propaganda someday hang, like Julius Streicher, for their war crimes. Sure, a hug to that happy, willing tree!

Leftist couple's stance on aboriginals leaves them in the cold

Kevin Libin, National Post Published: Friday, October 31, 2008

Calgary Authors Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard pose in their Calgary Home.

Authors Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard pose in their Calgary Home. Keith Morison for National PostCalgary

CALGARY -- In their living room, surrounded by posters of Vladimir Lenin and smiling, AK-toting Salvadorean guerilla girls, Frances Widdowson and Albert Howard hardly look like enemies of the Canadian Left. But in this country there are Things One Cannot Say; the most egregious of them being to question the special status Canada grants to entrenched Aboriginal interests. And the Calgary authors, despite their Birkenstocks and their confidence in Trotsky, appear, unconscionably, unworried about saying them.

Their new book, Disrobing the Aboriginal Industry, due out this month, is 260 pages of unspeakable challenges to what they consider the "romantic mythology" of native culture, the "quackery" of promoting traditional healing, the meaninglessness of "traditional knowledge" and treacherous assertions that Indians were "barbarians" before Europeans introduced to them "civilization."

Their scholarship has been denigrated. They have been denounced as racists. At this, they shake their heads and chuckle. None of it seems to bother them nearly as much as accusations that they are in collusion with, of all people, Fraser Institute types like Tom Flanagan and Melvin Smith.

"It's difficult because you get criticized by people you thought you had some connection to. But they're so misguided, they can't really look at things rationally," sighs Ms. Widdowson, a political science professor at Calgary's Mount Royal College.

Conservative scholars, with their tendency to critique the aboriginal status quo, may be a minority in the academy, "but we actually do exist," as one right-ish prof puts it. Heretical Marxists bucking left-wing orthodoxy, on the other hand, are as rare as the Wendigo.

"It's a bit lonely out here," says Mr. Howard.

Actually, their critique of the so-called aboriginal industry is classical, albeit outmoded, Marxism. In their book, published by McGill-Queen's University Press, they identify the main culprits as the primarily non-native agents such as lawyers, consultants and anthropologists who thrive on our segregated policy approach to First Nations people. The tens of billions of dollars a year channeled to reserves and Canada's North from governments and industrialists, they argue, attracts mercenaries in swarms, manipulating natives to inflate land claim grievances, demand industry payoffs and pressure politicians for more funding with few strings attached.

These revelations came to them when the two worked advising the Northwest Territories government in the 1990s. The territory had incorporated into official policy something called "traditional knowledge," requiring departments to include the spiritual folklore of Inuit and First Nations culture in decision-making about resource management - say, approving mines or setting hunting quotas. Appalled at the melding of supernatural beliefs with government policy, the two published an essay in the Institute for Research on Public Policy's journal, Policy Options, arguing that traditional knowledge made bad policy; its amorphous nature meant it "can be used to justify any enterprise, including the over-exploitation of resources."

For this, Ms. Widdowson was suspended from her government job. In a letter appealing to the deputy minister of the department, she reasoned: "Do you think that I should integrate the [native myth] idea that wolves create caribou and that animals ‘present themselves' to be killed with my current understanding of evolutionary biology? Should the department encourage renewable resource officers to throw beaver fetuses into lakes so that they can be ‘reborn?' This is exactly what the traditional knowledge policy is directing employees to do." Her contract was not renewed.

The sin, she says, was challenging the dogma maintaining the aboriginal industry: that natives are special; that their traditions possess enlightened ideals and crucial wisdom that must not only be protected, but encouraged. We sanction native justice, in the form of sentencing circles; the preservation of economically questionable traditional languages and sciences in schools (native languages often cannot accommodate modern scientific concepts); and the integration of "spiritual healing" in aboriginal health policy. This plays to sentimentalities for ancient ways, but when it comes to improving First Nations' social and economic outcomes, the authors argue, such things are dangerously counterproductive. "We don't want to stop people from believing these things," Mr. Howard says. "But how about we stop encouraging it?" The book even mounts a careful justification for Canada's reviled residential schools: Yes, they had flaws; but having introduced basic literacy and Western knowledge to hunter-gatherers, "we have to consider the question of what aboriginal communities would be like were it not for residential schools," they write.

The current aboriginal industry prefers atavism: "It's basically being said that Aboriginal cultures are equally developed and they have their own science and their own medicine," Ms. Widdowson says. "That whole philosophy justifies not doing anything about anything, and just basically allowing these very isolated, marginalized groups to continue that way without any hope for any improvement in the future."

Like proper Marxists, they contend that the system is perpetuated by those benefiting from the arrangement - which certainly aren't rank-and-file aboriginals, persisting in poor, sick and miserable conditions. "When you break down the romantic mythology, you find yourself immediately being accused of being anti-native people. But this whole thing came out of the fact that we looked at this and we said native people are getting screwed over here," Mr. Howard says.

To the Left, Ms. Widdowson and Mr. Howard's suggestion that aboriginal policy must elevate post-Enlightenment knowledge over superstitions is blasphemous. An essay in the New Socialist magazine last year said Karl Marx would be "turning in his grave" at the way they employ his theories. At Ms. Widdowson's college, administrators received letters calling for her dismissal.

The attacks from erstwhile comrades don't surprise the couple: They've faced these before, and predict more in their book. But they believe standing against the powerful machinery of institutionalized interests is what leftists do best. They may be among the only ones of that ideological persuasion willing to utter Things One Cannot Say, but Ms. Widdowson and Mr. Howard seem satisfied that they are keeping faith with the Bolshevik vanguard. As unpopular as it is, they insist, a "real left-wing analysis" of the state of aboriginals in this country "requires a critical eye rather than a bleeding heart."

National Post

klibin@nationalpost.com

Monday, November 03, 2008

How Much Do Dems Have To Screw You To Lose Your Vote?

This article and George Carlin video is dedicated with love to all of you not voting in any way shape or form on November 4th to validate the corporatist, war party rulers of the Amerikan empire. Know that the majority of people in this country stand with you, and that special blessings will be bestowed upon you for your intelligence, integrity, honesty, and heart.

Boycott the sham elections! A vote for the empire is a vote for genocide.



The Trail of Broken Promises
By MATT GONZALEZ

Watching the Democrats in the final weeks of the presidential election has been a lesson in revisionist history. While they lament the terrible crimes perpetrated against the American people by George Bush and vow to keep fighting for our rights, they conveniently gloss over the fact that they have no standing to make such claims. Indeed, the Democrats, including Senator Barack Obama, have actually voted with President Bush’s agenda, making them complicit in his acts, not valiant opponents defending our liberties.

PELOSI’S PROMISE TO END THE WAR

Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi said that if she became the speaker of the House of Representatives she would end the war in Iraq. Remember that? The Boston Globe noted, "Pelosi vows no ‘blank check’ on Iraq funds.” (1/8/07). In her own words: "If the president wants to add to this mission, he is going to have to justify it. And this is new to him, because up until now the Republican Congress has given him a blank check with no oversight, no standards, no conditions.” Rick Klein of the Globe noted "Pelosi’s comments mark the first suggestion by a Democratic congressional leader that Congress could use its authority over the nation’s finances to hasten an end to the war. Her remarks point toward an aggressive stance on Iraq from Congressional Democrats in their opening days of control of the House and Senate.”

Yet after she became the speaker of the House in Jan 2007, war appropriations actually went up by $50 billion, with no strings attached and no date for the withdrawal of troops. This year, 2008, they’ve gone up by another $25 billion for a two-year total of $350 billion, with no end in sight. So what happened to the promise of "no blank check?”

REID’S FILIBUSTER RULE

Sen. Harry Reid, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, has complained that the Republicans have filibustered (a procedure used by the minority party to delay voting on legislation) more times in the last two years than in the entire history of the United States to explain why he can’t move forward a progressive agenda. First he said it was over 70 times, then adjusted it by saying it was 65 times (Las Vegas Sun 3/6/08); yet still the highest for any two-year period (the previous record was 57 filibusters) (Politico, 3/6/08; Gov.Track.us 4/15/08). But Sen. Reid’s frustration has proven to be a red-herring. Did you know that Reid lets the Republicans filibuster telephonically, meaning that he doesn’t require that they physically present themselves on the floor of the Senate? Why is he making it easy on them? Is this what an opposition party looks like?

REPUBLICAN CLASS ACTION REFORM

Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic Party nominee for president, has a long history of voting against the interest of the American people, and specifically, the working class. Before entering the presidential contest, he supported the Republican Class Action Reform Bill, which made it harder for class-action lawsuits to be brought in the state courts. State courts are exactly where consumer protection lawsuits and recent wage and hour claims have succeeded in improving the lives of workers and helped them obtain better wages and breaks during work hours have succeeded.

Progressive commentators at the time called it a thinly veiled special-interest extravaganza. Journalist David Sirota noted "Opposed by most major civil rights and consumer watchdog groups, this Big Business-backed legislation was sold to the public as a way to stop ‘frivolous’ lawsuits. But everyone in Washington knew the bill’s real objective was to protect corporate abusers.” (The Nation, 6/26/06). So why did Obama vote for it?

PATRIOT ACT & FISA AMENDMENT

Sen. Obama supported one of the worst attacks on civil liberties in recent history, the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, which extended an earlier law granting law enforcement expanded powers to search telephone, e-mail, and financial and medical records, in addition to granting the federal government a host of other powers to combat so-called domestic terrorism. After saying he would oppose it if elected to the U.S. Senate (NOW questionnaire, 9/10/03), in July 2005, Obama voted for it.

But this wasn’t enough. After entering the presidential race and running on a "change” message, Obama vowed in February of 2008 to vote against—and filibuster if necessary—the FISA bill amendment (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) that gave immunities to telecommunications corporations that cooperated with the Bush administration’s warrantless surveillance program. This eavesdropping program clearly violated the privacy of law-abiding Americans at the behest of the president, and made the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover seem tame by comparison. Those voting in favor of the bill didn’t even first require full disclosure to see how deep the illegal conduct extended and agreed to apply the law retroactively.

Despite his promises to the contrary, and despite the vehement protests of many of his supporters, when the FISA bill came to the Senate for a vote this past July, Sen. Obama voted for it without explaining how this vote fit in with his change message or reconciled with his repeated claims he was going to protect the American people from repeated assaults on civil liberties by President Bush. Here was his chance to lead and make good on his promise, and what did he do?

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) called the FISA bill "an unconstitutional domestic spying bill that violates the Fourth Amendment and eliminates any meaningful role for judicial oversight of government surveillance" (ACLU press release, 7/9/08). Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office called the bill "a Constitutional nightmare” and noted "with one vote, Congress has strengthened the executive branch, weakened the judiciary and rendered itself irrelevant.”

Obama even voted to stop debate on the bill so he could get back to the campaign trail. How ironic is it that he was in a hurry to give more speeches about change and hope but couldn’t find the time or integrity to convert these ideas into action?

On the eve of the vote MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow noted "I’m betting that [Pres. Bush’s] wildest dreams did not include the prospect that Congress — a Democratic-led Congress — would help him cover up his crimes. Yet that is exactly what the US Senate is poised to do.” (Countdown with Keith Olbermann, 7/8/08).

OFF-SHORE DRILLING

As Sen. John McCain started to call for domestic drilling to ease our dependence on foreign oil, rather than debate the scientific and economic illogic of the position, Sen. Obama announced that he agreed with McCain. Reversing a 25-year ban on off-shore oil drilling, Sen. Obama led his party’s reversal, offering no explanation for how this would ease oil prices, particularly as experts noted that drilling would likely have an almost imperceptible impact on oil prices in the near future.

As Lester Brown and Jonathan Dorn of the Earth Policy Institute noted in "Drilling For Oil Is Not The Answer” (9/30/08) "The U.S. Department of Energy projects that lifting the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) moratorium [of the lower 48 states] would not increase production before 2017 and that by 2030 production would only amount to 0.2 million barrels per day—less than 1 percent of current consumption.”

Furthermore "The U.S. Department of Energy projects that opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) would lower gasoline prices at the pump by a mere 2 cents per gallon.” Even if we combined the two regions in question, it wouldn’t amount to much of an impact on oil prices: "Lifting the moratoria on drilling in ANWR and the OCS would reduce the price of a gallon of gasoline by at most 6 cents—and this would not be seen for at least another decade.”

Proponents of drilling have also exaggerated the
environmental safety of current off-shore drilling and oil production technology in general. There is widespread evidence that current drilling in the Gulf of Mexico is already leading to serious pollution and spills. After reviewing data from the National Response Center, the Houston Chronicle found there had been 595 oil spills across four state coastlines, totaling roughly 9 million gallons spilled in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ("Spills from hurricanes staining the coast” by Dina Cappiello, 11/13/05). So why is Sen. Obama, who claims to care about the environment, now advocating off-shore drilling?

DEATH PENALTY

In June of 2008, the conservative Supreme Court struck down the use of the death penalty in cases of child rape (Kennedy v. Louisiana held that states may not impose the death penalty for the commission of a crime that did not result in the death of the victim), a decision that surprised even death penalty opponents who hailed it as an important step toward full abolition of the death penalty. Sen. Obama’s response? He quickly called a press conference to denounce the decision. Obama stated that he agreed with the extreme conservative minority, comprised of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Alito, Scalia and Thomas. Despite the many known racial and class inequities inherent in the death penalty, a practice abolished and abhorred in most of the rest of the world, Obama celebrates that he has always been a supporter of it.

On the campaign trail, Sen. Obama likes to highlight death penalty legislation that he sponsored while a member of the Illinois legislature, to show his commitment to reform. But let’s be clear, he didn’t work on laws to address the disproportionate rate of death penalty convictions of African-Americans, but rather a law to require videotaped interrogations of death penalty suspects. Yes, something we can applaud, but something many critics have noted merely greases the wheels of this injustice.

Most disquieting of all, as a state legislator, Obama voted "to expand the list of death-eligible crimes” (Chicago Tribune, 5/2/07), despite admitting in his own allegedly soul-searching memoir that the death penalty "does little to deter crime.” (The Audacity of Hope, 2006).

AFGHANISTAN

On foreign policy, Sen. Obama’s approach is hawkish. He wants to deploy more soldiers to Afghanistan, which will only further destabilize the Afghan-Pakistani border. He simply ignores the historic reality that no invading army has ever managed to successfully win a war in this area or subjugate the Afghani people.

During its ill-fated 10-year war, between 1979 and 1989, the Soviet Union deployed 620,000 soldiers to Afghanistan and sustained 470,000 casualties (sick and wounded, including infectious diseases such as hepatitis and typhoid fever).

Why does Obama want to ignore these facts and risk further destabilizing the area and creating another Vietnam/Iraq occupation there?

IRAQ

With respect to Iraq, Sen. Obama has conceded the main argument of Sen. McCain’s campaign and said the so-called "surge” worked (despite significant evidence and analysis to the contrary). And he has vowed to keep soldiers in Iraq to fight counterterrorism. John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton who now leads the Center for American Progress, estimated this would take a 60,000 troop presence to achieve.

Moreover Obama "will not ‘rule out’ using private security companies like Blackwater Worldwide in Iraq” according to Democracy Now! Correspondent Jeremy Scahill. And Obama did not plan on signing on to legislation that seeks to ban the use of such forces by the U.S. government by January 2009, according to one of his senior foreign policy advisors. (Democracy Now! 2/28/08). (This is one promise Obama unfortunately has kept, refusing to sign onto the Stop Outsourcing Security Act, introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont).

In an interview with Amy Goodman, Sen. Obama stated his intention of leaving 140,000 private contractors in Iraq because "we don’t have the troops to replace them.” He also stated the need to keep an additional "strike force in the region … in order to not only protect them, but also potentially to protect their territorial integrity.” Summarizing the interview, Amy Goodman concluded that it sounded as if Obama "would leave more than 100,000 troops, close to 200,000 in Iraq. ‘Troops’ meaning U.S. soldiers and military contractors which some call mercenaries.” (4/1/08).

Even concerning a possible timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq, Obama has diminished his promises. He now is committing only to "reducing the number of combat troops within 16 months,” presumably to "bolster efforts in Afghanistan so that we can capture and kill bin Laden and crush al Qaeda.” (Obama/McCain debate, 9/26/08).

What we know for certain, though, is when given a chance to commit to a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq, Obama said "no.” When Tim Russert asked him, during a debate in New Hampshire in September 2007, if he could promise having American troops out of Iraq by 2013, he would not do so.

MILITARY SPENDING

According to military policy analysts at the Arms Control Center, in their report "U.S. Defense Spending, since 2001” military spending has risen from $333 billion in 2001 to $696 in 2008 (including $189 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan). It’s expected to rise even more in 2009, to $706 billion.

Despite this, Sen. Obama has joined Sen. McCain and called for increased military spending. "I’ve said that we have to increase the size of our military,” Obama told ABC’s This Week (9/7/08). The details of which he has previously noted in a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs: "I strongly support the expansion of our ground forces by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines.” ("Obama surrenders on military spending” by Glen Ford, The Progressive, 1/15/08).

WALL STREET CRISIS

The current financial crisis has generated perhaps the most fascinating political rhetoric of all. Obama has blamed the Republicans for deregulation and in doing so, his poll numbers have given him a healthy lead as we approach the final days of the campaign. The only problem is that the economic crisis is not just the fault of the Republicans. It is the direct result of bipartisan bills enacted into law by a Democratic president, Bill Clinton.

In 1999 Clinton signed into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. This repealed the last vestiges of an important Depression-era law, the Glass-Steagall Act (1933), which prohibited banking, brokerage, and insurance companies from merging together, thus compartmentalized the financial industry and protected it from future collapses.

Equally significant in 2000, President Clinton signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which repealed 20-year-old agreements between the Security and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, so that financial institutions could sell credit derivatives such as the now notorious "credit default swaps” without any oversight and with no regulation. Two of its cosponsors included Democratic Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Tim Johnson of South Dakota. The measure had such bipartisan support that it was never even debated in the Senate and was passed by unanimous consent.

This resulted in the repackaging of mortgages into securities and the failure to regulate institutions that then over-leveraged themselves as they sold credit derivatives to investors who wanted protection from risky investments. This is what led to this financial crisis whose ramifications we have only begun to understand.

Both Obama and McCain voted for the $700 billion taxpayer-funded bailout despite the plea of 200 economists (including Nobel Prize winners) urging them not to do so (Open Letter to Congress regarding Treasury bailout plan, 9/24/08). Obama keeps emphasizing that the mess was the fault of Republicans alone. But how is this argument credible when the law responsible for the financial meltdown enjoyed unanimous support from both parties?

NAFTA

It was quite emblematic of Sen. Obama that he has changed his position on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to suit whatever situation he is in. First, while running for the Senate in 2004, he said he supported NAFTA and thought there should be more trade agreements like it. (AP story 2/26/08). Then, while running against Hillary Clinton he blamed her for NAFTA’s impact on workers in the "rustbelt” states of Wisconsin and Ohio. But once he won the primary things changed. When asked if he would truly invoke the six-month clause in NAFTA for unilateral withdrawal, Obama showed his signature political reversal.

NAFTA created a trilateral trade bloc encompassing the United States, Canada, and Mexico, which was meant to foster greater trade between its members. It primarily lifted tariffs on goods shipped between the three countries but has caused economic turmoil both among American and Mexican labor, with unexpected loss of jobs and negative environmental impacts.

Nina Easton, a Washington editor for Fortune, noted in a June 18, 2008 article that "the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn’t want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA,” something he had promised to do when locked in a close primary race with Sen. Hillary Clinton. Asked directly about whether he would move the U.S. out of the trade agreement, Obama said "Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified.” Fortune magazine concluded that, despite once calling NAFTA "devastating” and "a big mistake,” Obama "was toning down his populist rhetoric” and had no intention of following through with his anti-NAFTA promises now that the primary battle was won.

In light of this evidence, can we believe any of the other commitments he‘s made?

THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY

Those who think Sen. Obama will appoint good Supreme Court justices should just take note of his long history of supporting some of the worst Bush appointees to the federal bench, including Thomas Griffith (D.C. Cir.), Susan Blake Neilson (6th Cir.), Milan Smith (9th Cir.), Sandra Segal Ikuta (9th Cir.), and Kent Jordan (3rd Cir.). The Neilson vote was particularly troubling as both senators from her own state "blue slipped” her for being "too extreme.”

And even when he does manage to muster the courage to vote against conservative appointees, he does it in a lukewarm and perfunctory manner, refusing to join Democratic Party filibuster efforts. This is deeply troubling. He voted cloture (to end any voting delay) on Priscilla Owen (5th Cir.) and Brett Kavanaugh (D.C. Cir.) both extremely conservative jurists, thus ensuring they would be confirmed.

SEN. JOE BIDEN AS VICE-PRESIDENT

Obama’s selection of Sen. Joe Biden as a running mate is particularly troubling and does not bode well for the decisions Obama is likely to make if elected president. Obama has presented Biden as someone who never forgot his roots, is a working class, regular guy.

The only problem with this characterization is Sen. Biden’s voting record. He was one of the main supporters of the Republican Bankruptcy Reform Bill that Pres. Clinton vetoed twice, only to have it signed into law by Pres. Bush in 2005, with Sen. Biden’s ardent support.

Criticizing the Bankruptcy Reform Bill, Arianna Huffington noted that the bill "makes it harder for average people to file for bankruptcy protection [average annual income of Americans who file for bankruptcy is less than $30K]; it makes it easier for landlords to evict a bankrupt tenant; it endangers child-support payments by giving a wider array of creditors a shot at post-bankruptcy income; it allows millionaires to shield an unlimited amount of equity in homes and asset protection trusts; it makes it more difficult for small businesses to reorganize while opening new loopholes for the Enrons of the world; it allows creditors to provide misleading information; and it does nothing to rein in lending abuses.” (Salon.com, 3/05)

Jackson Williams noted, in "Joe Biden: No True Friend of Working Men and Women” (Huffington Post, 10/27/08), that Biden "didn’t just vote for it, he helped carry the water on it. Some Democrats tried to soften the bill with a series of amendments; for example, exempting military personnel at war in Iraq. Biden joined the majority of his colleagues—the Republicans and too many Democrats—in knocking down every possible change that was offered.”

Sen. Biden has built a reputation as someone who works tirelessly for credit card companies, with some critics even referring to him as the senator from Mastercard—rather than the senator from Delaware.

In addition, Biden voted for the War in Iraq and the Patriot Act, so it’s hard to understand how Sen. Biden is going to help bring about change in the new administration.

OTHER FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES

Obama called Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez an enemy of the United States and urged sanctions against him. (Interview with Jorge Ramos, El Mercurio, 6/11/08)

He heaped praise on the first George Bush saying, "You know, one of the things that I think George H.W. Bush doesn’t get enough credit for was his foreign policy team and the way that he helped negotiate the end of the Cold War and prosecuted the Gulf War. That cost us $20 billion dollars. That‘s all it cost. It was extremely successful. I think there were a lot of very wise people.” (Larry King Live 3/23/08).

And in a much-anticipated speech to America’s pro-Israeli government lobby, AIPAC (The American Israel Public Affairs Committee), Obama towed the typical pro-Israel line. He urged that Jerusalem would belong to Israel, despite peace efforts currently underway which would allow the holy city to be shared among both Israelis and Palestinians. He unequivocally stated "Israel’s security is sacrosanct.” And "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.” (AIPAC speech, 6/08).

MAKING A DEMAND

Before you vote for someone with such a checkered voting record, it might be worthwhile to make some demands on him, don’t you think? Or at the very least we should ask him to explain why he’s capitulated so many times.

I’m sure Sen. Obama would find such questions uncomfortable. In fact, even progressives find such inquiry bothersome: they are aware of Obama’s lamentable history of capitulation on votes that take away our civil rights, but nevertheless cling to their wish that Obama will be something other than what he has already proven himself to be.

But it’s not likely that he will be a transformative leader. He’s already announced economic advisors whose ideas are at the heart of the economic meltdown, like Austan Goolsbee, an aggressive free trader and subprime loan advocate, and former Clinton advisors, David Cutler and Jeffrey Liebman, supporters of market-oriented solutions to social welfare issues such as the partial privatization of Social Security. ("Subprime Obama” by Max Fraser, The Nation, 1/24/08).

He has foreign policy advisors who helped take us into war, like Colin Powell, who in 2003 addressed the United Nations on behalf of the Bush Administration, outlining the reasons the U.S. had to invade Iraq (he also disturbingly, as a young Army Major, worked to suppress key evidence about the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam).

But that’s not all. Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman spoke with journalists Allan Nairn and Kelley Beaucar Vlahos who discussed Obama’s foreign policy advisors (2/10/08). They noted that Obama proudly brought on to his team old cold warrior and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who has boasted of having created the whole Afghan Jihadi movement; Anthony Lake, who was behind the U.S. invasion of Haiti during the Clinton years; General Merrill McPeak, who delivered U.S. fighter planes to Indonesia shortly after the Dili massacre in East Timor in 1991; and Dennis Ross who has pushed to subordinate the rights of Palestinians to the needs of the Israeli government.

What do you think the likelihood is that Obama will listen to us, once we’ve voted for him, without making any demands on him?

As Robert Scheer, a noted columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, noted on July 23, 2008, shortly after Obama voted for the FISA bill, "Barack Obama is betraying his promise of change and is in danger of becoming just another political hack.” And Scheer made these remarks before Obama decided to support off-shore drilling, denounce a Supreme Court death penalty decision, and before he voted for the Wall Street bailout.

CONCERNING RALPH NADER

But we don’t have to vote for either Senators Obama or McCain, do we? Ralph Nader has a more impressive legislative record as an outsider than do Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain combined. And he has a proven record of fighting the culture of Washington. Just think of the Freedom of Information Act, Clean Air, Clean Water, automotive safety, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Yet despite these accomplishments, Obama and McCain do not believe they should even have to debate him.

What they don’t tell you is that the so-called independent Commission on Presidential Debates is actually a private corporation run by former leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties. The Commission, which was formed in 1987, is currently led by Frank Fahrenkopf, a former head of the Republican National Committee, and Paul Kirk, the former head of the Democratic National Committee. No wonder they won’t debate Nader or anyone else.

Of course they justify this by saying Nader isn’t polling well enough to include him in the debates. Yet, interestingly, both McCain and Obama were losing their respective primary races until they were let into televised debates. And there are well-known examples of how letting a candidate debate "mainstream” candidates can lead to a different outcome. Jesse Ventura won the governor’s race in Minnesota in 1998 when he was allowed to debate the Republican and Democratic Party candidates, going from 9 or 10 percent in the polls to ultimately winning the contest.

Ralph Nader polled at five percent and above at least four different times this year in national polls, and he even reached 10 percent in one poll in the state of Michigan (conducted by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA, 4/15/08). This should have been sufficient to gain access to the presidential debates. Ross Perot got in the debates in 1992 even though he was polling below 10 percent. Perot went on to win 19 percent of the vote, and his warnings about NAFTA and deficit spending influenced Clinton policy and proved prescient. Afterwards, the two parties retaliated by creating a 15% threshold which ironically no candidate is likely to reach without being included in televised debates.

The worse part of the so-called presidential debates as they are currently produced is that two-party control ensures that the questions are not sufficiently hard-hitting. Isn’t it appalling that we saw three debates between Obama and McCain at a time our country is suffering its worst economic crisis, and no one asked these men "Why should Americans have any confidence either of you is the best choice to tackle these problems given that both of your political parties helped pass laws that made this crisis possible—or even inevitable?”

They also like to say that voting for Nader is throwing your vote away. The Democrats often cite the 2000 election to blame Nader for Bush’s victory. But they noticeably never mention the 1992 election, when Bill Clinton won because Ross Perot "spoiled” the race for George Bush’s father, an incumbent president. By the way, Clinton got only 43 percent of the vote in 1992 compared to 48 percent by Bush in 2000.

And they offer no explanation for why they haven’t worked on election reform since 2000. Imagine claiming your political party lost the presidency because the "winner” was declared even though he hadn’t won a majority of the votes cast? Then imagine doing nothing to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. Isn’t it odd that the Democrats haven’t worked on election reform in the past eight years?

They never will change the system because the way things are now, they can be assured that they will be in office roughly half the time. They also count on people to accept their arguments that Nader and other third parties aren’t polling high enough to get your vote; that the real contest is between just two candidates.

If all else fails, they argue that it’s the most important election of your lifetime. I’m 43 years old and I’ve heard this argument each time the presidential race has come up.

If you accept these arguments, you are in effect rewarding the two parties for not fixing how we do elections in this country. You reward them for creating the Commission on Debates. You guarantee that things will not change. And you ensure that candidates that support single-payer health care, decent wages and pensions for workers, controls on corporations and a foreign policy based on achieving peace rather than driven by self-interest, cannot ever be heard.

Nader wants a more humane and democratic society. He’s seen that you can’t get anything done in Washington because senators like Obama and McCain ignore what’s good for Americans in pursuit of their own interests. Sure McCain talks like a maverick and Obama talks like a revolutionary, but look closely and you will see repeated
capitulations to the very entities our government needs to get away from if we are to build a more democratic society.

WOMAN’S SUFFRAGE & EUGENE DEBS

Eugene Debs ran for president several times in the early 20th century. He advocated the right of women to vote at a time when it was not popular to do so and while other more successful politicians openly argued against giving women the right to participate directly in elections.

The general attitude among men was exemplified by Elihu Root, a former cabinet secretary to presidents McKinley and Roosevelt and winner of the 1912 Nobel Peace prize who said: "Suffrage would be a loss for women. I think so because suffrage implies not merely the casting of the ballot, (…) but suffrage, if it means anything, means entering upon the field of political life, and politics is modified war. In politics there is a struggle, strife, contention, bitterness, heart-burning, excitement, agitation, everything which is adverse to the true character of woman. Woman in strife becomes hard, harsh, unlovable, repulsive…” (N.Y. Constitutional Convention, 1894).

President Theodore Roosevelt, himself, said "Personally I believe in woman’s suffrage, but I am not an enthusiastic advocate of it, because I do not regard it as a very important matter.” (Letter to Dr. Lyman Abbott, 11/10/1908). And President Grover Cleveland said, "Sensible and responsible women do not want to vote.” (1905).

Despite these sentiments Debs advocated this right. Yet he never obtained more than 6 percent of the vote. Let me ask you: Were the men who voted with Debs throwing their vote away? If you had lived in that era, would you have voted for him? Or would you have come up with an excuse for why it wasn’t important enough?

CONCLUSION

On the street when I am approached by an Obama/Biden volunteer or someone who tells me they’re voting for Obama, I usually ask "What about the FISA vote?” And each time I hear in return "What’s that?” Or if I say, "You know he supports the death penalty,” I usually hear in response, "No he doesn’t.”

At what point will there be intellectual honesty about what is
happening? People are voting for Obama because they find him to be an engaging public speaker and like his message regardless of his history of being part of the very problem he professes to want to fix. Most people don’t want the actual facts to interfere with the desperate hope that he is everything they want him to be.

Do you really want to vote for someone who has already voted to take away your civil liberties because of some vague wish that he’ll act differently as president? Obama himself, speaking of Sen. Hillary Clinton, made a remark that could just as easily apply to him, and, unwittingly makes the case for why no one should vote for him: "We can’t afford a president whose positions change with the politics of the moment. We need a president who knows that being ready on day one means getting it right from day one.” (Salem, OR, 3/21/08).

If voting for war appropriations and taking away civil liberties was bringing us closer to a more democratic and egalitarian society, well, I would advocate it. But it isn’t doing that.

What is your breaking point? At what point do you decide that you’ve had enough?

What do they have to do to lose your vote?

Matt Gonzalez is Ralph Nader’s Vice-Presidential running mate on an Independent ticket.