Thursday, August 30, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Canada announces they will deport Kimberly Rivera, Mitt Romney has two proposals for veterans, the Iraqi Parliament releases a list of the most corrupt ministries, Amnesty International asks Iraq to stop the executions, Jill Stein release her first commercial since winning the Green Party's presidential nomination, and more.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a solid idea on veterans and education. We noted that in yesterday's snapshot. There's so much -- a great deal of it nonsense -- going on that the idea's really not getting the attention it should so we're going to open with it. As Ari Shapiro (Morning Edition, NPR) reported today, speaking to the American Legion, Mitt Romney proposed that veterans attending college on the Post 9/11 GI Bill get in state tuition.
Ari Shapiro: Romney offered new ways to expand veterans' education, jobs, and health care. For example, he says veters should get in-state tuition rates no matter where they live. And he wants people with military training to get trade credentials more easily.
Mitt Romney: And any time a veteran is unable to receive timely health care from the VA system, he or she will be allowed to see a tri-care provider at the VA's expense.
Ari Shapiro: Tri-care is the military's health care program. Less than three hours after he touched down in Indiana, Romney was back on a plane to Tampa where he will accept his party's nomination to be president tonight.
Yesterday, we noted Mitt Romney's in-state tuition aspect. That is a wonderful idea. Everyone should be praising that. Barack Obama (and other campaigns) should be grabbing it. If someone says, "Barack, you stole that from Mitt!" -- the reply is, "When a solid idea comes along, you promote it. You don't worry about where it came from, you do what's best." And this is a great addition to the Post 9/11 GI Bill.
Yesterday, I did not note the TRICARE aspect because I wasn't aware of it. From his speech, here is Mitt Romney speaking about the in-state tuitition and about TRICARE:
The problems with the VA are serious, and must be fixed. We are in danger of another generation of veterans losing their faith in VA system. On my watch, that will not be allowed to happen.
The Obama administration has also requested $12 billion in TRICARE fee increases. I will not ask our wartime military to shoulder more sacrifices while the rest of government grows. I will not ask our service members -- active or retired -- to pay more for their health care to free up room for Obamacare.
I will keep faith with our troops and our veterans -- and my administration will do better by them. I was astounded to read about a federal building in Virginia that became structurally unstable in 2010 because so many veterans' claims had stacked up inside it. I am going to make reforming that agency a personal priority of mine -- and I've already started thinking about the policies I will put in place to make it work better for you.
I will modify the Post 9/11 GI Bill so that any veteran wishing to continue his or her education is eligible for in-state tuition, regardless of residency.
To make it easier for veterans to find employment in skilled trades, I will work with the states to create a common credentialing and licensing standard, and encourage credentialing organizations to recognize and grant credit for military training.
Right now the VA has a shortage of mental health care professionals. I will hire more -- and any time a veteran is unable to receive timely health care from the VA system, he or she will be allowed to see a TRICARE provider at the VA's expense.
I have said before that this must be an American Century. And to accomplish that, we must have the strongest military and the strongest economy in the world.
US House Rep Bob Filner, Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and currently running for San Diego Mayor, He has addressed the backlog at VA in many hearings. As Romney's remarks portray it, this sounds like points made by Bob Filner (and others) and it's a solid idea as well. If I seem less enthused, it's only because I'm not surprised by that idea because others have proposed it. I'm glad Mitt Romney's proposing it. I wish all the candidates running for president would make that part of their campaign. With the in-state tuition idea, not only is it a great idea, it's one I've never heard proposed before yesterday and I've been attending the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearings and covering them here for about six years now. Both ideas are solid and America's veterans would greatly benefit.
Someone's going to scream in an e-mail to the public account, "You've endorsed Mitt Romney!" I didn't endorse in 2008, I'm not endorsing now. People are mature enough to decide whether to vote and if to vote who to vote for. (Thus far my plan is still not to vote in the presidential election. I will vote on other races.) I do, however, endorse Mitt Romney's two proposals. They are great proposals. Again, I wish all the campaigns would adopt those proposals. It does not kill me or upset me or bother me to say, "Those are two solid and amazing proposals from Mitt Romney. Good job, Mitt Romney." It's a real shame that partisan hacks are ensuring we're not talking about those two proposals -- both of which can easily be done and both of which would immediately improve the lives of veterans.
That's a goal that I would hope we could all agree on: improving the lives of veterans. It would be really nice instead of attempting to split us everytime, we could work together on at least one issue, if we could show just some of the maturity, leadership and compassion that Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Patty Murray and Ranking Member Richard Burr practice every day when it comes to veterans issues.
Staying on veterans issues, the Canadian Press reports that Iraq War veteran Kimberly Rivera "must leave Canada by Sept. 20." Kimberly Rivera is the first female war resister to publicly seek asylum in Canada. She is from Texas, from the D-FW (Dallas - Fort Worth) area. She stated in July 2009, "I want to stay in Canada, with my family, because the Iraq War is immoral, illegal and I couldn't in good conscience go back. The amount of support I'm getting from Canadians is amazing. The parents of my kids' friends, MPs and even strangers on the street keep telling me that they can't believe the votes in Parliament aren't being respected." Dropping back to the December 4, 2007 Iraq snapshot:
Courage to Resist profiles war resister Kimberly Rivera explaining how she ended up checking out and moving with her husband and children to Canada: "Kimberly Rivera grew up in Mesquite, Texas, a suburb east of Dallas. She had never thought of becoming a soldier until she was seventeen and the Army recruiters visited her home to meet with Kimberly and her parents. The recruiters offered money for college that her family did not have. Her mother was supporting Kimberly, her father, and her two sisters after her father suffered a work related accident. She took an aptitute test for job placement out of 'curiosity', but later signed up to be a mechanic. She was given an elistment date following graduation for the Army Resevers." She was released from the military due to pregnancy at the end of 200. With the costs of raising two children, she decided to re-enlist and found herself stationed in Iraq. "I felt like I was losing my mind. I was so close to death so many times. It scares me now. My life as I knew it was falling apart and I was unable to pull it together. I was surrouned by males who were filled with filthy comments and talking about all kinds of sexual things. I was there for three months and was scared that some of the guys might try to get me to trust them just so later they could have their chance to abuse me." A not uncommon nor unrealistic fear based on reported cases of sexual assault in the military. "While in Iraq losing soldiers and civilians was part of daily life. I was a gate guard. This was looked down on by infantry soldiers who go out in the streets, but gate guards are the highest security of the Foward Operation Base. We searched vehicles, civilian personnel, and military convoys that left and came back every hour. I had a huge awakening seeing the war as it truly is: people losing their lives for greed of a nation and the effects on the soldiers who come back with new problems such as nightmares, anxieties, depression, anger alcohol abuse, missing limbs and scars from burns. Some don't come back at all. On December 21, 2006 I was going to my room and something in my heart told me to go call my husband. And when I did 24 rounds of mortars hit the FOB in a matter of minutes after I got on the phone . . . the mortars were 10-15 feet from where I was. I found a hole from the shrapnel in my room in the plywood window. That night I found the shrapnel on my bed in the same place where my head would have been if I hadn't changed my plans and gone to the phone." The death of an Iraqi civilian and a base visit by an Iraq father and his daughter took place before her leave. While in Texas on leave, she and her husband made the decision to go to Canada. In the Iraq War, there are many resisters who never go public. Of those who go public, Stephen Funk is the first to resist. Camilo Mejia is the first Iraq veteran to resist, Jeremy Hinzman is the first resister to go public in Canada, Ehren Watada is the first officer to resist, Eli Israel is the first to resist while stationed in Iraq and Kimberly Rivera is the first female resister to go public in Canada.
City News Toronto has a photo of Kimberly and her family. Kimberly and her husband moved to Canada with Christian and Rebecca. They're now the parents of four children. Katie and Gabriel were born in Canada. The CBC notes, "Rivera's lawyers have argued in Canada's federal court that their client would likely face a court martial and jail time, possibly up to five years, instead of an administrative discharge if she is deported because of her political opposition to the war." Patty Winsa (Toronto Star) speaksnotes with Alyssa Manning, Kimberly's attorney, who notes that while 94% of deserters end up with an administrative discharge, it's different for war resisters who've spoken out, "There is evidence that people who speak out publicly against the war in Iraq are targeted for differential prosecution once they've returned to the United States. There is a very small percentage that are selected for prosecution and court martial and the evidence demonstrates that in that small percentage are people who have spoken out against the war in Iraq."
Charmaine Noronha (AP) notesWar Resisters Support Campaign spokesperson Michelle Robidoux states that future moves include asking Minister of Immigration Jason "Kenney to grant the family humanitarian and compassionate consideration and allow them to stay." Speaking on the phone to two friends in the Canadian Parliament today (House of Commons, both are members of the New Democratic Party), this is not seen as an isolated incident but part of a move to target the remaining US war resisters in Canada who have not received aslyum or citizenship. Rivera is seen as "this month's target" with others lined up for the immediate future. The New Democratic Party, specifically under Olivia Chow direction, repeatedly brought measures before the House of Commons to protect war resisters.
Chow's most recent legislative attempt was in March of last year. The Liberal Party MPs refused to support the measure and walked out. They were happy at other times, the Liberal Party, to pretend to care about war resisters. Robidoux and others will try many strategies to save Kimberly and her family as well as other war resisters -- the courts and public officials such as Kenney are their best shots. During Vietnam, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau granted asylum to war resisters -- those evading the draft and those who had been inducted and left the service. He didn't pass a law for it. The law isssue is complicated by the sign-off portion in Canada and it was a dead end before the Liberals decided they no longer cared for war resisters. If Jason Kenney or another individual or individuals is spotlighted by the War Resisters Support Campaign as someone to write and make the case for granting the Rivera family the right to remain in Canada where they have made their home, we will note that here.
During the current US wars, Darrell Anderson was the first war resister publicly seeking asylum in Canada that turned around and came back on his own. Robin Long was the first to be deported by Canada. Only two have won in court so far: Dean Walcott and Chris Vassey. Many have had more success by not going public and applying for citizenship and visa through other means. If there's a lesson for future US war resisters, it may be that the easiest way is to not go public. Not going public will make it harder for the movement to grow but it may make it a lot easier to be granted asylum. Not going public also means a message is sent about Canada and those in government better realize they can't shut out war resisters and also have Canada seen as a principled country and a beacon of hope, one of the world's most advanced countries. Canada's solid image is based in part on their behavior during Vietnam. (I'm referring to the government here. During the current wars -- the Iraq War is still going on, the Canadian people have been very clear about their desires and goals. The government has refused to recognize that and support it. But the Canadian people, as a whole, remain dedicated to advancing peace. It's something worthy of praise and it's a shame their government, thus far, refuses to embrace tha generous and giving spirit.)
For now, Kimberly and her family remain in Canada. Meanwhile War Criminal Tony Blair struts across the globe like a free range chicken. Today he is in South Africa where, Eye Witness News informs, "A group of protesters gathered outside the Sandton Convention Centre on Thursday to protest against former British Prime Minister Tony Blair." Faranaaz Parker (Mail & Guardian) reports:
There has been growing anger over the invitation extended to Blair from local groups who had opposed the Iraq war. The South African Muslim Network has said that it was considering holding protests outside the summit venue, sit-ins and legal action against Blair.
On Wednesday the South African Press Association reported that the Society for the Protection of our Constitution (Spoc) had filed a complaint with the South African Police Service and that a "crimes against the state" docket had been opened. A case number was issued and the matter will now go to the national director of public prosecutions for consideration.
It's hard to determine whether Tony Blair is suffering from the effects of Mad Cow or if he hopes the rest of us are. News 24 reports on his recent comments:
"What I say to these groups is this: 'Why don't you actually go and protest against the people doing the killing?'" he told the paper. "The vast majority of people dying from terrorist activity [are] Muslim on Muslim violence," Blair said.
Terrorist activity includes illegal war and that's what Blair took part in. He lied to the people and he ignored the legal advice. He wanted war and a lot of people died because of it. he might try getting honest but War Criminals are usually immune to honesty.
Yesterday brought news of the last 9 of 140 US tanks being handed over to Nouri's Baghdad-based government. Alsumaria notes that the 140 US tanks are in addition to the 170 tanks Iraq has purchased from Russia. AFP doesn't mention the tanks purchased from Russia but does note the tanks "are part of Baghdad's efforts to build up its military, which U.S. and Iraqi officials admit cannot secure the country's borders, airspace, or maritime waters." Meanwhile Alsumaria reports that the US Embassy in Baghdad has declared in a statement that how Nouri chooses to use the F-16 fighter jets is not a concern of the US. Really? Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:
In related news, AKnews reports that Monday saw NGOs protesting in Erbil to register their opposition to the US government's plan to sell Baghdad F-16s and that the NGO's issued a statement which included:
The US is selling F-16 fighters to the Iraqi government while the majority of the Middle East regimes who used heavy weapons against their peoples are being pressed on to leave power and to get stripped of their heavy weapons. The Iraqi government is not under any external threats from the air or the ground from borders. The purchase of these fighters is not necessary. Each of these planes have been purchased with a huge amoung of money which the Iraqi government could use on providing services to the people and reconstructing the country. The government could buy passenger planes instead of F-16s. Our concern and fear of the Iraqi government's purchase of those planes stems from our experience with the former Iraqi governments that used heavy weapons against their people.
Please note, that's not a concern to the US government.
And where is Nouri right now?
Oh, that's right: Iran.
The government in Tehran publicly summoned him on Tuesday and he scooted right over. According to James Risen and Duraid Adnan's "U.S. Says Iraqis Are Helping Iran to Skirt Sanctions" (New York Times) earlier this month, the White House knows Nouri's government is helping Iran circumvent economic sanctions. And now the F-16s will be turned over to Iraq with the US Embassy in Baghdad declaring how Nouri uses them and what he does with them is not any business of the US government's?
I seem to recall the last time a similar statement was made. And it was conveyed though diplomatic staff as well. Anyone else remember? April Glaspie? July of 1990, US Ambassador to Baghdad Glaspie conveyed to Saddam Hussein that, "We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary [of State James] Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America." That was a bloodbath (and why the UN has kept Iraq in Chapter VII all these years later). Remember that should another blood bath follow. The US government has yet again refused to stand up for humanity and instead given tacit approval to a dictator to carry out his most macabre fantasies.
Nouri's been on an execution kick this week with at least 26 hangings so far for the week, nearly 100 for the year. The Voice of Russia reports European Union Policy Commissioner Catherine Ashton "says that the growing number of executions in Iraq is openly at variance with the global trend towards the abolishment of capital punishment." KUNA adds, "The UK government urged Iraq on Thursday to halt executions, after reports emerged that 26 people said to be linked with terrorism were executed over the past few days." Though Nouri tries to render the executed invisible to ensure that no one can question the legal judgments, they were alive, they had names, they had families. Habib Toumi (Gulf News) reports on one of the executed this week:
Mazen Mohammad Nashi Al Masawi is said to be among those executed by the Iraqis, but no formal statement has reached the family.
"We never suspected anything about Mazen heading to Iraq," Mohammad, the father, said. "He was a student at the Business and Management College at the King Abdul Aziz University and spent most of his free time at home. He looked normal and behaved normally and he did not exhibit any sign or indication of extremism or fanaticism," he said, quoted by local daily Okaz on Wednesday.
Amnesty International reiterates its urgent call to halt all execution in Iraq following reports that 26 people were executed this week and fears that others might be executed in the coming days.
A spokesman of the Iraqi Ministry of Justice reportedly announced that on Wednesday 29 August five people had been executed. Two days earlier, according to the Ministry, already 21 people had been executed, including three women.
Amnesty International has spoken to Iraqi human rights activists who have confirmed that three women aged between 23 and 49 years, one of them convicted for terrorism related offences and the others for murder were among those executed this week
These latest executions bring the total number of people executed this year to at least 96. This is a significant and worrying increase compared to the previous year. According to Amnesty International's information, in 2011 a total of at least 68 people were executed in Iraq. Amnesty International's concerns are compounded by the flaws in the Iraqi criminal justice system.
Since the death penalty was reintroduced in Iraq in 2004, hundreds of people have been sentenced to death and are now on death row. Amnesty International has denounced throughout the years that many trials of those sentenced to death failed to meet international standards for fair trials, including that "confessions" obtained under torture or other ill-treatment had been used as evidence against them. Some Iraqi television stations continue to broadcast self-incriminating testimonies of detainees even before the opening of a trial, undermining the fundamental right of defendants to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Amnesty International is urging the Iraqi authorities to refrain from using the death penalty, commute all death sentences to terms of imprisonment and declare a moratorium on executions. This year, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions have both called for the establishment of a moratorium on the death penalty in Iraq.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty – the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment – in all cases without exception, as a violation of the right to life.
As already noted, Nouri is in Tehran, Al Mada reports on that. AGI explains, "Nouri Al-Maliki will present Iraq's plan for the Syrian crisis at the summit of non-aligned countries in Teheran. The two key points in the plan call for an end to the violence and the formation of a national unity government 'which includes all the components of the Syrian population'." AFP elaborates, "Maliki was to outline the initiative, under which a Syrian regime figure would negotiate with opposition groups and elections take place under international and Arab League supervision, in a speech to the Non-Aligned summit Tehran." In Iraq, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has been tasked with explaining the recommendation. Prensa Latina reports, " In an address to Al-Alam television channel during the 16th Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said his country will not break its relations with Damascus despite regional and international press."
Ayad al-Tamimi (Al Mada) reports that the Parliament's Integrity Committee has found that the most corrupt ministries in Iraq -- Ministries of Defense, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Sports and Youth and the Ministry of Electricity.
On the disappeared, all this time later, there is still no amnesty law. Currently in Mosul and Baghdad, inmates in two prisons are on hunger-strikes (more prisons may have joined this) calling for the passage of an amnesty law. Nouri's been accused of rushing through executions to ensure that they take place before any amnesty law might stop them. Al Rafidayn reports that Nouri's State of Law is insisting that people are wrong when they say State of Law is stalling on the amnesty law. And possibly State of Law is telling the truth? This could be just another example of how State of Law lacks the ability to lead on any issue.
And while State of Law denies accusations that they are stalling on the long-planned amnesty law, Al Mada reports that they're also demanding the enactment of a law to ban Ba'athists. Ba'athists were the dominant party in Iraq under President Saddam Hussein. Paul Bremer implemented the White House's desired purge of Ba'athists from government following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. The call for a law and the demand that the Justice and Accountability Commission begin purging will no doubt be praised by the usual goons (the same ones who openly wished Nouri would steal the 2010 election, for example). But the reality is that in early 2007, Iraq accepted -- Nouri signed off on -- White House benchmarks calling for reconciliation and ending the Ba'athist purge.
The Ba'athists have already been purged. This really isn't about that. What it's about is the provincial elections which are scheduled for 2013 and the parliamentary elections which are scheduled for 2014. A lot of Nouri's opponents were eliminated from running in the 2010 parliamentary elections through creative use of the Accountability and Justice Commission -- a commission that Iraq's Parliament thought had lapsed. Already a goonie in the US has praised the return this year of the commission. There's nothing to praise here. And, again, Iraq was supposed to be moving towards reconciliation. (Equally true, the Iraq Inquiry presided over by John Chilcot in England has heard from one witness after another -- UK government officials -- about how this purge was the worst thing for Iraq and how much damage it has done and continues to do.)
Back to the US and the presidential race. Tonight in Tampa, the RNC concluded but not before they officially proclaimed Mitt Romney to be their presidential candidate. Paul Ryan is his running mate. NPR continued their live coverage (expanded All Things Considered) and did a good job all week with their coverage. When I said that to an NPR friend, he asked if we would note NPR live blogged the convention as well. Yes, I will note that and even link to Mark Memmott's Thursday live blogging. Qualifier: I'm not a Republican. As a Democrat, it appeared to me that NPR was being very fair (especially when compared to other MSM outlets). A Republican might see it differently. It's their party and I would gladly concur that a woman or a man who is Republican and followed the RNC coverage NPR provided would be a better judge than I am on this matter.
In his acceptance speech, Mitt Romney declared, "What is needed in our country today is not complicated or profound. It doesn't take a special government commission to tell us what America needs. What America needs is jobs. Lots of jobs."
On the Republican National Convention, yesterday's snapshot noted Tom Brokaw's critique that the RNC hadn't mentioned Iraq or Afghanistan on Tuesday. Brokaw's criticism was accurate and was also non-partisan (non-partisan in that he had no axe to grind and non-partisan in that he accurately portrayed Dems and Republicans marching off to war in 2003). Yesterday the wars were noted.
The RNC e-mailed the public account to note that veterans Jeanine McDonnell and Chris Develin-Young spoke. This is Jeanine McDonnell introducing Chris Devlin-Young:
Good evening, I am proud to be one of the 212,000 servicewomen who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade. As a 24 year old Virginian in Iraq, I worked with some of the most courageous men and women this nation has to offer, and we were united in a singular cause: to protect the nation that we love. It has been my privilege to serve alongside heroes of every service. Defending this nation and its citizens is not without sacrifice for service members and the families who support them. And that's why we need leaders who don't play chicken with our nation's defense. We need leaders who will invest in defense -- not abandon it. And that's why we need Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Now, it is my honor to introduce Chris Devlin-Young, a hero in his own right, a former Coast Guardsman and a two-time Paralympic gold medalist in alpine skiing. Chris.
After that Chris Devlin-Young introduced Senator John McCain: Thank you. It's wonderful to be with you tonight. In 1982, while flying in heavy fog during a Coast Guard mission, our plane crashed, leaving me paralyzed from the waist down. While my career as a Coast Guardsman ended, a new world of service began for me. 27 years ago, this California boy was introduced to ski racing at the first Veterans Administration Winter Sports clinic. I decided then and there to dedicate myself to racing and coaching other injured veterans. Being a gold medal Paralympian gives me a whole new way to honor and serve my country. Being the coach of paralympic medalists gives me a way to honor and serve others. I believe that we can all serve no matter what our challenges. Because it's not about what you've lost in life but rather what you are able to give. And now, it is my honor to introduce a hero who has given of himself regardless of the price. He is the son and grandson of admirals, a decorated naval pilot, a war hero, and the senior senator from the great state of Arizona -- Senator John McCain.
Condi Rice spoke Tuesday night. The former Secretary of State got a ton of criticism. Stupidest came from Slate where a bunch of idiots pretend to work. Sasha Issenberg opened with:
Condoleezza Rice's turn on stage seemed to be evidence of a speaker in search of an argument, as though a production company lined up a star actor cast before determining the plot.
You stupid f**king moron. Why don't you take general studies degree masquerading as a degree in journalism and shove it up your ass. You're not qualified to make the criticism you strive for. An actor or actress cast in a production company would not be lined up "before determing the plot." You stupid f**king moron. A production company (film) might do so before getting a script, a production company (theater) might do it before choosing a play. But, you deeply stupid f**king moron, they would not do it before "determing the plot." You're not capable of art references because your education has so failed you. Stick to dragging your knuckles on the ground because you might manage that but you can't handle allusions to the world of art. You've demonstrated that. In your attempt to prove how awful Condi Rice was, all you demonstrated was how you had no grip on vocabulary and no understanding of what you were attempting to allude to.
There was no reason to try to go Dowdian [Maureen Dowd] but if you're going to try to pretend that you have the education and background for that sort of reference, you need to understand the concepts which you so clearly do not.
And for any who think that may be a little too harsh, for this site it is not. I have lost faith in many things at many points in my life, but I have never lost faith in art and I don't take kindly to little pishers who seem to feel they're qualified for discussions which so clearly float above their heads.
And why Condi? The RNC sent her speech to the public account late this morning. We don't have space for the full speech, but here's a sample of it (I'll run it in full tomorrow morning):
And we have seen once again that the desire for freedom is universal – as men and women in the Middle East demand it. Yet, the promise of the Arab Spring is engulfed in uncertainty; internal strife and hostile neighbors are challenging the fragile democracy in Iraq; dictators in Iran and Syria butcher their own people and threaten the security of the region; China and Russia prevent a response; and all wonder, "Where does America stand?"
Indeed that is the question of the moment- "Where does America stand?" When our friends and our foes, alike, do not know the answer to that question – clearly and unambiguously — the world is a chaotic and dangerous place. The U.S. has since the end of World War II had an answer – we stand for free peoples and free markets, we are willing to support and defend them – we will sustain a balance of power that favors freedom.
To be sure, the burdens of leadership have been heavy. I, like you, know the sacrifices that Americans have made – yes including the ultimate sacrifice of many of our bravest. Yet our armed forces remain the sure foundation of liberty. We are fortunate to have men and women who volunteer – they volunteer to defend us on the front lines of freedom. And we owe them our eternal gratitude.
I know too that it has not always been easy – though it has been rewarding – to speak up for those who would otherwise be without a voice – the religious dissident in China; the democracy advocate in Venezuela; the political prisoner in Iran.
It has been hard to muster the resources to support fledgling democracies– or to help the world's most desperate— the AIDs orphan in Uganda, the refugee fleeing Zimbabwe, the young woman who has been trafficked into the sex trade in Southeast Asia; the world's poorest in Haiti. Yet this assistance – together with the compassionate works of private charities – people of conscience and people of faith— has shown the soul of our country.
And I know too that there is weariness – a sense that we have carried these burdens long enough. But if we are not inspired to lead again, one of two things will happen – no one will lead and that will foster chaos —- or others who do not share our values will fill the vacuum. My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice. We cannot be reluctant to lead – and one cannot lead from behind.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan understand this reality — that our leadership abroad and our well being at home are inextricably linked. They know what needs to be done.
Our friends and allies must be able to trust us. From Israel to Poland to the Philippines to Colombia and across the world — they must know that we are reliable and consistent and determined. And our adversaries must have no reason to doubt our resolve — because peace really does come through strength. Our military capability and technological advantage will be safe in Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan's hands.
We must work for an open global economy and pursue free and fair trade – to grow our exports and our influence abroad. In the last years, the United States has ratified three trade agreements, all negotiated in the Bush Administration. If you are concerned about China's rise – consider this fact – China has signed 15 Free Trade Agreements and is negotiating 20 more. Sadly we are abandoning the playing field of free trade – and it will come back to haunt us.
We must not allow the chance to attain energy independence to slip from our grasp. We have a great gift of oil and gas reserves here in North America that must be and can be developed while protecting our environment. And we have the ingenuity in the private sector to tap alternative sources of energy.
If Condi's speech speaks to you, great. We're not going to fact check it. I don't care for it. It's the argument for the war in Iraq and the argument for more wars. That's what she believes in, she didn't hide and our site here is a rejection of those beliefs. We can allow her to have her say and we're all mature to either agree or disagree with her and no one needs footnotes at this late date on Condi Rice. Though I didn't care for the content of the speech (with the exception of personal notes she made, I actually was glad she made her references to her childhood), she delivered it very powerfully.
This was the big foreign policy speech at the convention. Possibly because it was that and because Condi's a woman, that's the one the RNC chose to send to the public e-mail account (firstname.lastname@example.org). Maybe for another reason altogether, I have no idea. But we noted a nice size sample of it and tomorrow I'll note it in full in a morning entry and attempt to find a video for it as well.
Jill Stein: A Green Party president means an end to unemployment, to foreclosures, to student debt, to climate change and an end to corporate rule. We're not talking spare change. We need a revolution.
Man nods in agreement.
That's what we deserve. What we don't deserve is pandering, irresponsible bull[BLEEP] that passes itself off as campaigning. I can't believe I just said that but that's how I feel.
Man nods in agreement.
Man rushes to window, opens it and yells, "I'm voting for Jill Stein."
Man on bicycle: I'm for Jill Stein!
Woman holding child opens window and says, "We need a Green president!"
A figure in white at an open window throws up an arm and exclaims, "Vote for Jill Stein!"
Man on bicycle: We need a Green Party president!
Man looking at newspaper shakes his head in disgust and says, "That does it! I'm voting for Jill Stein."
Woman looks up to the sky and says, "We need Jill Stein for president!"
Camera pulls out and up as chants of "Jill Stein" are heard and we see earth from space.
Jill Stein stands at a city park.
Jill Stein: I'm Jill Stein. Green Party candidate for president and I approved this message.
According to a piece in NBCNEWS.com titled: "'No one really cares': US deaths in Afghanistan hit 2,000 in forgotten war," the death toll of US troops in Afghanistan has now surpassed 2000 under the watch of President Barack Obama and 80,000 troops still languish in the quagmire. The presidential ticket for the Peace and Freedom Party, Roseanne Barr and Cindy Sheehan, wishes to express deep condolences to the families of the needlessly killed troops and the people of the Af/Pak region that have been devastated by almost 12 years of war. "It's not true that 'no one cares,' we passionately care about ending US military involvement overseas to bring the world to peace," said VP candidate, Cindy Sheehan, from her home in Vacaville, California. Sheehan continued, "I am the only candidate in this race that personally knows the tragedy of war...the never-ending mourning for a son that won't return and while Roseanne and I agree the economy is a pressing issue, ending the money-pit of US empire will also bring a boon to our national economic stagnation." The presidential ticket of Barr/Sheehan has been greatly encouraged that campaign events have been packed by people who also see immediate peace as an imperative issue in the 2012 presidential race even though the two capitalist war parties are trying to avoid the issue of the endless wars at all cost.
The Platform of the Peace and Freedom Party includes a very aggressive plank for world peace:
Peace and International Justice
The drive for greater profits by multi-national corporations which direct U.S. foreign policy is a major cause of war. We stand for peace between nations and the right of all peoples to self-determination. We support an ongoing socialist transformation everywhere. We therefore call for:
The U.S. to renounce nuclear first strike, and take the initiative toward global disarmament by eliminating all of its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
No U.S. intervention anywhere. End all support and aid to repressive regimes and all military and police training aid everywhere. End efforts to destabilize foreign governments. End U.S.-directed economic warfare against other countries. Abolish the CIA, NSA, AID and other agencies for interference inother countries' internal affairs. Withdraw all U.S. troops and weapons from all other countries.
Stop all U.S. arms exports and trade.
Dissolve all military pacts.
Convert from military to peaceful production; reallocate the resulting "peace dividend" for social benefit.