Wednesday, May 14, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, a bombing leads to multiple deaths, al-Maliki pulls a for-show stunt, John Edwards endorses a super-model, Hillary wins West Virginia, and more.
Starting with political realities. There have been reports that US Senator Barack Obama intends to declare himself the Democratic presidential nominee (click here for Tennessee Guerilla Women citing an outlet's report). It's possible that the campaign truly is that stupid. Making that declaration would be a disaster and most have focused on the p.r. when the bigger disaster would be the finanical one. Ava and I discussed this morning a number of realities including that if August seems to long to wait for a Democratic presidential nominee to take it up with the DNC that shoved the convention back so that the Democratic candidate would be running on a level playing field (financially) with the Republican candidate. We didn't factor in the alleged May announcement because we'd honestly forgotten it.
In 2004, John Kerry and the DNC considered delaying the nomination. Not because Kerry was at risk of losing it Why? Because the DNC convention was in July of 2004 and the GOP convention would wrap up in September. The Washington Post, May 2004: "Under federal law, each major-party nominee will receive a check for $74.69 million from the U.S. Treasury to finance the general election. Receipt of the money is triggered by formal acceptance of the nomination, and after that no money raised for the primaries can be used on behalf of each nominee's general election campaign." Read the article. The Kerry campaign and DNC were not talking about delaying the convention, they were talking about no announcement of the nominee being made at the convention and doing that later. That was one idea they were toying with. If the announcement is made, the FEC regulations kick in.
When John McCain's mentioned here we generally note he is the presumed nominee and often include the point that, barring some upset ("heart attack or scandal"), he will be the GOP nominee in the fall. Barack Obama making an announcement this month would result in one of two things. A) The DNC calls him out on it and he has egg on his face that the press laughs at from now until the convention. (Possibly beyond.) B) The DNC doesn't call him on it. If the DNC makes no statement that the nominee has not been decided and it is not in Barack Obama's power to declare himself the nominee, then Barack would be in the presidential spending cycle. In May. Defeating everything the DNC was hoping to achieve this year by pushing the convention back to August. Read the Washington Post article. The 2004 convention would take place but John Kerry would make a speech in August declaring himself the nominee and they intended to argue that the speech was when Kerry became the nominee. By the same token, if Barack declares himself the nominee before the convention and is not loudly rebuked by the DNC, the federal guidelines should kick in and you better believe the Republicans will argue that they should.
When one candidate is left standing (the 'norm' for those especially young), they still aren't the nominee until the declaration. Barack making such a declaration before the convention and doing so while another candidate remains in the race would be viewed as a formal acceptance (seizure) of the nomination and the FEC spending rules would kick in.
Along with the p.r. nightmare Barack would create by declaring himself the nominee, people better get real about what happens in terms of financing. And, if you missed it, Barack's engaged in a dance with the press about how he would finance a general election campaign. Declaring himself the nominee -- with no LOUD rebuke from the DNC -- would take the issue from the hypothetical into the near future into the immediate present. (While the GOP nominee would have months to decide what they intend to do.) Since, unlike 2004, there are still two candidates, Barack declaring himself the nominee to shut out Hillary would most likely have to be seen by the FEC as his nomination unless the DNC loudly rebuked him and the federal finance laws on the general election cycle would immediately kick in.
Barack shouldn't be able to declare himself the nominee. It's a tie and the rules and guidelines say it goes to the convention where it's decided. But if he does try to do that the two most likely outcomes are (A) he enters the general election finance period in May or (B)he is loudly rebuked by the DNC. If it's (A), he defeats the entire purpose of the DNC moving the convention to August for 2008. If it's (B), he becomes the laughingstock of the press and America which suddenly gets an education on how a nominee is decided and Barack's speech becomes his Dan Quayle potato moment (or, as Dan spelled it, "potatoe").
We'll return to politics later in the snapshot. Turning to war resistance, Jesse McLean (The Samia Observer) reports on war resister Richard Droste. Twenty-two-year-old Droste served in Iraq as a medica and then self-checked out after seeing what was really taking place in the illegal war. He says, "I was a stupid one and didn't see what we were really doing there until I was already there for four months." Now he's in Canada, where he's married to a Canadian citizen, and speaking out in favor of the Canadian Parliament granting safe harbor to US war resisters. He and Josh Randall spoke in Sarnia yeterday and he states, "It's not looking good. I'm worried the government in Canada right now is too bought into the American life" and if safe harbor isn't granted "you're going to see hundreds of objectors shipped back stateside, where a lot of them would probably get imprisoned."
Currently, you can utilize the following e-mails to show your support: Prime Minister Stephen Harper (firstname.lastname@example.org -- that's pm at gc.ca) who is with the Conservative party and these two Liberals, Stephane Dion (Dion.S@parl.gc.ca -- that's Dion.S at parl.gc.ca) who is the leader of the Liberal Party and Maurizio Bevilacqua (Bevilacqua.M@parl.gc.ca -- that's Bevilacqua.M at parl.gc.ca) who is the Liberal Party's Critic for Citizenship and Immigration. In addition Jack Layton, NDP leader, has a contact form and they would like to hear from people as well. A few more addresses can be found here at War Resisters Support Campaign. For those in the US, Courage to Resist has an online form that's very easy to use.
Meanwhile George Bryson (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that a US judge, John D. Roberts, has declared that paratrooper Michael Barnes is a conscientious objector. In the Anchorage Daily News, Bryson explains that Barnes enlisted in 2005 and was sent to Iraq where he realized he was a conscientious objector. Bryson notes: "In a 26-page recommendation to the U.S. District Court, Roberts noted that the Army failed to show 'any basis in fact' to support its decision to deny Barnes' petition to be honorably discharged due to his religious beliefs. At the same time, the record includes strong reasons to justify the request, including Barnes' own testimony, supporting letters from fellow soldiers and the opinion of an Army chaplain, the judge said." He is not the first war resister to require a court interceeding. Robert Zabala is the most recent example and Agustin Aguayo is hoping the Supreme Court will intercede on his behalf.
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes Matt Mishler, Josh Randall, Robby Keller, Justiniano Rodrigues, Chuck Wiley, James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Jose Vasquez, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Clara Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Logan Laituri, Jason Marek, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
Turning to Iraq where the violence, like the illegal war, never ends. Reuters notes a bombing resulting in mass deaths at an Al Anbar Province funeral. AP notes the death toll is 22 and that: "The bomber blew himself up inside a funeral tent in the village of Abu Minasir, just west of the capital. Police say that funeral was for Taha Obaid, the principle who was shot and killed one day before in his school. There was no reason known for Wednesday's killing, but many members of so-called Awakening Councils, Sunnis who switched allegiance and are now fighting al Qaeda, were attending the funeral. Col. Faisal al-Zubaie, the director of police in nearby Fallujah, says the original death toll was 18, but some people died later.
In other reported violence." Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) notes that the principle was Taha Obaid Zubai and identifies him as "a member of the Islamic Party" and the cousin of "Faisal Zubair, . . .the Fallouja police commander." The "Awakening" Council members are paid $300 US dollars a day by the US government. al Qaeda in Iraq has always been a small presence and the ones on the payroll of the US government today are mainly paid to not attack US service members (as Petraeus and Crocker repeatedly admitted/bragged in their April Congressional testimony). In other reported violence . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad car bombing targeting Iraqi parliamentarian Ayad Al Samarai which did not kill him but claimed the lives of 3 bystanders and wounded twenty-seven people, a Baghdad 'female suicide bomber' who claimed her own life as well as 1 Iraqi military captain and 1 Iraqi soldier while injuring four more Iraqi soldiers, a Baghdad roadside bombing that targeted another Iraqi parliamentarian, Abdul Kareem Al Samari, and claimed the lives of 3 of his bodyguards (he survived) and left seven people injured, a land mine bombing in Sulaimaniyah claimed the life of an NGO worker with another wounded, while a bag bombing in Sulaimaniyah left three children wounded.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports armed clashes in Sadr City continued and claimed 6 lives with fourteen more wounded.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad,
In other news, Reuters reports puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki has headed to Mosul to oversee the assault and has dubbed the ones under attack "terrorists" and "criminals." al-Maliki last oversaw the failed campaign in Basra which created the current conflict in Sadr City.
In US political news, West Virginia held a primary yesterday. As the Boston Globe headline proclaimed, "Clinton Crushes Obama in W. Va." With 100% precints reporting, Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama by 41% and exit polling revealed a number stating that if Barack was the Democratic Party nominee, they would vote for John McCain in November. On NBC's Today Show this morning, Matt Lauer noted that the voters rejected the conventional wisdom the pundits keep pushing: that Barack is the nominee; while Andrea Mitchell noted problems in the upcoming primary in Kentucky "unless there is a major change in the way he connects to people." Barack Obama is in a tie with Hillary Clinton. Neither will finish the primaries with enough delegates awarded to claim the nomination. The rules and guidelines dictate that the decision be made at the August convention. In the meantime the 'invincible' Barack seems even less so but David Gregory assured Lauer that "new math" was being used by the Obama campaign and that they are convinced he can lure Republican states in the last two elections based on his 'appeal' to Latino voters -- an appeal that did not exist in Texas, California or Florida. Hillary declared in her victory speech last night, "After tonight's tremendous victory here in West Virginia, it's clear that the pundits declaring this race over have it all wrong. The voters in West Virginia spoke loud and clear -- they want this contest to go on." If there were a nominee selected by the people, the press-appointed nominee wouldn't have lost yesterday's primary by 41%.
Meanwhile, yes, it's true, John Edwards, former Democratic presidential candidate this year (and 2004 vice presidential nominee) appeared on TV today to make an endorsement. His taped announcement appeared at the end of The Tyra Banks Show where he joined other celebrities (such as Will & Grace's Debra Messing) in congratulating Tyra on her 500th show and wishing her many more episodes. With Merv Griffin and Michael Douglas no longer having TV shows, Edwards spoke live to endorse Barack Obama, the candidate who repeatedly punked him on stage, the one he refused to stand up to, the refusal that led to American voters seeing him as weak. At this late date and considering his non-stop desire to act as if his campaign existed for him to be part of an Obama entourage, no one gives a damn. Edwards joined Barack, Tim Russert and Brian Williams in the tag-team bashing of Hillary -- the debate FAIR didn't think warranted a "media advisory." He was a weak candidate who couldn't finish. His endorsement is meaningless. But it was nice to see him on Tyra playing the grinning fool he does too well.
There are some people out there who want to declare this race over now, before all the ballots have been counted or even cast. There are some who say they don't know why I'm in this race. So let me tell you why I'm still running.
I'm in this race for everyone who needs a champion. For the hardworking families who are losing sleep over gas prices and grocery costs and mortgage payments and medical bills -- but who never lose that American can-do spirit and optimism.
I'm in this race for the more than 16 million people like you who have supported me -- for the people who have put their hearts into winning this race. You never gave up on me, and I'll never give up on you.
We are in the homestretch. After sixteen months, there are only three weeks left to compete in the final contests. With your help I'm going to keep fighting until every last American has a chance to be heard, and as we learned last night in West Virginia, I know we can win.
I'm also in this race because I have the best chance of beating John McCain in November and putting America on the right track.
We proved something in West Virginia last night -- a state every Democratic president has won since 1916. And we proved something in a few other battleground states that have a history of picking presidents. Pennsylvania. Ohio. Arkansas. New Hampshire. New Jersey. New Mexico. Nevada. And, yes, Michigan and Florida.
I am in this race, and so are you, because we both know the stakes in this election are too high to stay on the sidelines.
So let's keep going together, you and me. Let's keep driving our campaign forward, and let's keep winning.
I want to thank you again for the incredible generosity of spirit you have shown over the course of this campaign. Together, you and I are going to make history.
While most of us sit in front of screens typing and searching, Ralph Nader still types out his prose on a manual Underwood typewriter.
On Monday, Mr. Underwood traveled to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Nader is not easily dazzled by technological wonders.
Throughout his career, Nader has confronted head-on the downside of nuclear, automobile, genetic engineering and other industrial advances.
And now he's questioning the enormous amount of time we spend in front of our computers.
Has Google and the information revolution that it leads made our society better?
Or is it just another mass diversion from the reality of the corporate takeover of our democracy?
At Googleland, Nader took questions for an hour.
And then sat down for an eight-minute interview with Youtube.
Nader/Gonzalez is confronting head-on the reality of the corporate takeover of our democracy.
As you know this week, we are raising money to get Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot in the Land of Lincoln - Illinois.
In just five short days, 462 of you - on-line and face-to-face at Nader/Gonzalez rallies on the West Coast - have donated $43,718.
We need just another 70 of you - our loyal supporters - to donate $100 each - to reach our Illinois goal of $50,000.