Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, September 16, 2008.  Chaos and violence continue, the Congress discussed the spending in Iraq, NOW PAC made an endorsement but even Kim Gandy unwisely keeps insisting NOW made the endorsement, and more.
Today the House Committee on the Budget held a hearing on Iraq's Budget Surplus.  Some background.  April 8th the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen David Petraeus offered testimony.  Senator Barbara Boxer raised the issue of the "Awakening" Council and how "you are asking us for millions more to pay off the militias and, by the way, I have an article here that says Maliki recently told a London paper that he was concerned about half of them".  Boxer noted that the US was spending $182 million each year ($18 million a month) to "Awakening" Council members and "why don't we ask the Iraqis to pay the entire cost of that program"?  As Sam Dagher (New York Times) noted Monday, the puppet government in Baghdad "is expected" to take over payment on October 1st.  Iraq has yet another outbreak of cholera currently.  Friday a press conference was held in Baghdad that offered blame for everyone but the Iraqi government which sits on billions that Nouri al-Maliki refuses to spend on reconstruction or rebuilding.  This at a time when trash piles up, when electricity continues to be largely unavailable and when fuel costs soar. Monday Mohammed Abbas (Reuters) reported that the puppet government was stating, via spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh, that "we are in a position now not to ask for financial aid from anybody, even the United States.  I think we have enough money to spend and we are not in need of any money in the future."
US House Rep John Spratt Jr. chairs the Budget Committee (Paul Ryan is the Ranking Member of the Republican Party). Appearing before the committee were (first panel) the GAO's Joseph A. Christoff, (second panel) Congressional Research Service's Christopher M. Blanchard, AEI's Frederick Kagan and the Center for American Progress' Lawrence J. Korb.   We'll focus on some of the first panel only.
Spratt called the hearing to order and noted:
This hearing will be the first opportunity for the Congress to receive testimony on this report, the GAO report, since the Government Accountability Office released it several weeks ago.  GAO reports that Iraq is now running a substantial budget surplus -- it may reach $79 billion.   At the same time the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] reported last week that in contrast to Iraq's growing surplus, the budget deficit for the United States. is expected to exceed $400 billion for the current fiscal year.  That's the second largest deficit in our history.  Even bigger deficits are projected next year. This hearing will give the Budget Committee the chance to develop some insight into Iraq's fiscal situation and its ability to help pay for its own reconstruction.  So far the United States has provided more than $650 billion dollars for efforts in Iraq, $50 billion of which were for reconstruction and security forces training.  We're spending today at the rate of more than $10 billion a month which is by anybody's calculus a significant sum of money.  Given our budget deficits here at home, some find it difficult to understand why American tax payers are still funding Iraqi reconstruction and security training.  In funding the Gulf War, the first President Bush was able to secure much critical sharing from allies which greatly reduced the bill that the tax payers ultimately had to pay.  Let me say at the outset that this hearing is not a debate on the war, not a debate on the surge or plans for redeploying any troops we may have.  In fact, even the strictly budgetary issue of the total cost of the war -- military and reconstruction -- is larger than today's topic. We invited the Department of Defense to address a broader budgetary issue in our hearing this fall.  They declined to appear.  Thus today's hearing is called to examine the issue of the Iraqi budget surplus.  We on the Budget Committee want to asses for the purpose of projecting the bottom line whether the burden of Iraq's reconstruction can finally begin to shift from the United States to Iraq itself given the surplus they're currently enjoying.
Following the ranking Republican speaking, a cry of "End the occupation by defunding the occupation!" was chanted by one woman.  "You gonna call 'em?" asked Ryan leading Spratt to bang the gavel and declare to the woman, "I'm sorry you're out of order and you'll be removed from the room if you persist in doing what you're doing."  Ryan chuckled at that.
"Iraq has an estimated 115 billion barrels of crude oil reserves," declared Christoff at the start of his testimony.  "It's the third largest in the world.  And oil revenues are critical to Iraq's economy accounting for over half of the country's GDP [Gross Domestic Product] and over 90% of its revenues.  My statement today is based on the report we issued last month on Iraq's revenues, expenditures and surpluses from 2005 to 2008."
Christoff then reviewed some findings. From 2005 to 2007, $96 billion was generated in revenues (oil accounting for more than 90% of that money) and in 2008 $73 to $86 billion is the estimate for revenues "nearly as much as it generated in the prior three years."  By contrast, 2005 to 2007 saw the puppet government spent "$67 billion on operating expenses and investments.  Operating expenses such as salaries and goods and services consumed 90% of that total.  The remaining 10% was spent on investments such as structures and vehicles. In general, Iraq has spent less on investments than operating expenses."  Christoff estimates the surplus will be between $67 billion and $79 billion for this year.  He noted the claim that this would all be spent and how "a similar claim" was made from 2005 to 2007 but that never happened and instead "ended each of these years with budget surpluses."
John Spratt: If the will was there they could be spending it at a faster rate than they are?
Joseph Christoff: Well they can spend it on their operating budget with no difficulties.  They spent a large percent -- almost 80 percent -- on their operating budget. They can pay salaries.  They can buy certain operating goods and services but when it comes to the actual investment side to reconsruct bridges, roads, electricity and water facilities they fall short.
During his time, US House Rep Chet Edwards asked that Paul Wolfowitz ' statements be put up from 2003 when he was then Deputy Secretary of Defense and testified to the House Appropriations Subcommittee (March 27, 2003): "We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon."
Chet Edwards: Given the GAO report, I guess I rank that administration prediction right up there with some of the predictions that we would be greeted as liberators, the war would be short-lived, it would cost the American tax payers less than a hundred billion dollars and we're turning the corner.  We've turned so many corners in Iraq I think we're all dizzy from that. Every time we turn one corner we find another roadbloc down the way.  I would like to ask you, just again, to get the facts on the table, in fact, let me ask staff to put up the chart on how much Iraq has spent and how much less it has spent than the US.  I just want to verify, Mr. Christoff, that according to this chart, the United States tax payers that are now facing historic deficits of over $400 billion this coming year, US tax payers have spent $23.2 billion on Iraq reconstruction.  Is that correct, Mr. Christoff?
Joseph Christoff: That's for four sectors that we looked at.
Chet Edwards: Okay.
Joseph Christoff: Security, oil, electricity and water.
Chet Edwards: Okay.  So reconstruction in those four sectors.  And the Iraqi government which I think now has an approximately $79 billion surplus has spent only $4.3 billion.  Is that fact --
Joseph Christoff: That's correct.
Chet Edwards: -- correct?
Joseph Christoff: Yes.
Chet Edwards: So the US tax payers -- in addition to something you can't put a dollar value on, we've sacrificed over 4,000 of our young men and women in combat there -- we've then also spent five times what the Iraqis have spent on reconstruction despite Secretary Wolfowitz' prediction that Iraq would very quickly be able to pay for its own reconstruction.  Let me ask you about this.  Am I correct in understanding from your report that the same Iraq for which we have sacrificed over 4,000 American lives has just signed a $3 billion agreement with the Communist Chinese National Petroleum Corporation to develop the Ahdab  oil field, is that correct?
Joseph Christoff: I don't have any first-hand information on it, sir.  It's just what I've read in the paper as perhaps you have as well.
Chet Edwards: Okay. Well for the record, I think that is, Mr. Chairman, correct. The Iraqi government, the same one that's building up a $79 billion surplus while American tax payers are paying for most of their reconstruction efforts has just signed a $3 billion agreement with the Communist Chinese National Petroleum Corporation.  And Mr. Chairman, it just boggles my mind to think that there would be any evidence that the Communist Chinese ability to develop oil fields is better than US corporations ability to do so.  So once again, we turn a corner and we're hit in the face with something I consider to be insulting.  
Edwards is correct re: CNP's contract.  August 29th snapshot: "Meanwhile, China scores big!  Erica Goode and Riyadh Mohammed (New York Times) announce that China National Petroleum signed a contract with the puppet government in Baghdad. With the DNC speeches this week repeatedly hitting on the borrowing from China, that will probably not go over well in this country."  Sept 3rd snapshot: " Eric Watkins (Oil & Gas Journal) states the oil contract to China National Petroleum Co (CNPC) has been approved by the Iraqi Oil Ministry today.  Today's Azzaman sees an exclusion of the US from the oil deals and insists this is due to pressure from Iran.  David Berman (Globe & Mail) dismisses 'the concern about China cornering Iraqi oil, it's nonsense'.  BBC via redOrbit documents the press conference in Baghdad today, presided over by Husayn al-Shahrastani."
US House Rep Lloyd Doggett was among the other Democrats asking questions and we'll note this exchange.

Lloyd Doggett: Do I understand from your testimony to Mr. Edwards a moment ago that a time when we were squandering our money and the Iraqis were saving their's that Iraqi citizens were paying about four cents a gallon for gasoline?
Joseph Christoff: Two years ago that's correct.
Lloyd Doggett: It's risen some since then?
Joseph Christoff: It's up to about $1.18 per gallon.
Lloyd Doggett: I think there are probably a lot of Americans who are paying for this so-called reconstruction in Iraq that would be mighty glad if they could get $1.18 gasoline. Did you play a role in the analysis of the benchmarks that the Government Accountability Office provided last year?
Joseph Christoff: Yes, sir.
Lloyd Doggett: What was that role?
Joseph Christoff: I was the director in charge of that report.
Lloyd Doggett: And have you also played the same role in responding to questions about the benchmarks from [House Armed Services Committee] Chairman [Ike] Skelton this year with the report that you just did in the last few weeks?
Joseph Christoff: Yes, I was the director on the progress report as well.
Lloyd Dogget: All of us remember, except maybe President Bush, that in January of 2007, he selected the benchmarks, the guidelines by which to measure success, by which to measure victory in Iraq and when we sought an analysis so we would have an objective information instead of just the propaganda from the administration about whether those benchmarks had been met the Congress turned to the Government Accountability Office. And my recollection is that when you came out with your report on August the 30th of last year that you determined that . . . 11 of the 18 benchmarks that President Bush had set were not met. Is that correct?
Joseph Christoff: Based on that prior report correct.
Lloyd Doggett: Yes, sir.  And you found that of the 18 benchmarks the president set himself to measure success in Iraq that only three had been met as of August 30, 2007. Now this year, a year later, you did some evaluation again.  You did not evaluate every single benchmark but you really found that there had been very little progress in the year.  We know that fortunately fewer Americans are being killed there. But in terms of the objective of the Bush policy in Iraq, you had a grand amount of success in that they met one more benchmark than they had the year before, isn't that correct?
Joseph Christoff: Well we didn't go through a benchmark by benchmark analysis but we did provide a report that talked about progess on the security front, the legislative front and the economic front in our June report.  
Lloyd Doggett: Right and I believe you found one more benchmark met than the year before.
Joseph Christoff: Again we didn't do a benchmark by benchmark analysis, sir.
Lloyd Doggett: Well if you look at the -- it may not have been called a benchmark analysis -- but you looked at some of the same factors you had the year before.  Just to begin to go through them, on the Constitutional Review Committee, you found that they'd formed the committee but the committee hadn't done anything.  Right?
Joseph Christoff: And that's still true.
Lloyd Doggett: Well they hadn't met that.  On enacting and implementing legislation on de-Baathification you found that they had enacted the legislation but they hadn't implemented and of it, right?
Joseph Christoff: That's correct.
Lloyd Doggett: Well they hadn't met the second benchmark.  On the question of enacting the hydrocarbon or oil legislation, you concluded that they had not met that again this year, did you not?
Joseph Christoff: Correct, and no progess this year either.
Lloyd Doggett: On enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions -- that was the fourth benchmark President Bush had -- you found that that was only partially met.  Again they passed a law to allow the provinces to act but it hadn't been implemented.
Joseph Christoff: Well on that one it will be implemented when provinces come together to form regions so that's  an open --
Lloyd Doggett: Right, but we're not there yet.
Joseph Christoff: Well no provinces have voted to form regions other than the KRG originally.
Lloyd Doggett: On enacting and implementing legislation for an Independent High Electoral Commission you found only partially meeting it.  Again, they passed a law but hadn't implemented it.
Joseph Christoff: The commission was established.  The provincial election law -- the date was established for October 1 but the implementing laws have not been enacted.
Lloyd Doggett: Right. And they won't have the elections they've been promising us they'd have for a year in October.
Joseph Christoff: October 1, they will not meet that date.
Lloyd Doggett: On the enacting and implementing legislation for a strong militia disarmament program --
Joseph Christoff: That's not met.
Lloyd Doggett: That's not met.  And I see my time's up but, Mr. Chairman, we can keep going down the objectives that President Bush set himself for success, for victory in Iraq, and you'll find that it continues to fail.  That this policy has been a failure, American tax payers are having to fund the failure while the Iraqis pay a fraction of the price we pay for a gallon of gasoline.  Thank you.
In Iraq today, Robert H. Reid (AP) reports that the handover from Petraeus to Gen Ray Odierno took place, "With Defense Secretary Robert Gates presiding at the ceremony in a cavernous rotunda of a former Saddam Hussein palace outside Baghdad, Petraeus handed over the flag of his command, known as Multi-National Force Iraq, to Odierno and then bade farewell."  Thom Shanker and Stephen Farrell (New York Times, A13) report that Monday's hijinx included a Gates' 'joke' that US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen David Petraeus have alternated playing "good cop, bad cop" in Iraq. The reporters fail to inform how many (if any) Iraqis laughed at the 'joke.'  Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports one Odierno change already -- he wants to be called "Ray" and not "Raymond".  Susman also notes, "Odierno gained a star but lost a syllable in his first name. He was promoted to a full four-star general moments before the event took place. No reason was given for the change in his preferred first name, which must have happened suddenly. The press packet provided to the media included a biography of Odierno that introduced him as Gen. Raymond Odierno."  A dust storm hit Iraq, she reports, for the second day in a row.  Some of today's violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that claimed 2 lives with thirteen left wounded and a Baghdad roadside bombing that left eight people wounded.  Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing that claimed the life of 1 police officers and injured seven people.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Sheikh Omar Raddam Getan was assassinated today in Diyala Province.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.
Today NOW PAC (not NOW as ABC and others are reporting -- the National Organization for Women CANNOT endorse, it's a violation of their tax status) endorsed the Obama-Biden ticket and Kim Gandy (NOW president) explains in several paragraph: 'Lesbians, go screw yourself.'  There's no other way to put it after Barack's use of homophobia in South Carolina to scare up votes which NOW (or NOW PAC) never bothered to call out.  For years The Ego of Us All tried to chase lesbians out of NOW and Kim Gandy's apparently decided to follow in Red Betty's footsteps.  Lesbians really don't have abortions.  The main reason would be rape.  Pregnancies are planned by lesbian couples.  So outside of rape, abortion rights isn't one of the biggest concerns on their lists.  Nor did his mentor or pastor for 20 years who compared likened gay sex to rape, murder and lynching.  Jeremiah Wright made that comparison not in some unearthed sermon but on national television (Bill Moyers' embarrassing interview with Wright back in April -- and no, Moyers didn't question him on that call). They do care about self-respect.  Barack showed no respect to the LGBT community.  Most laughable is Gandy's claim that "Sen. Obama opposed the nominations of George Bush's extreme right-wing nominees to the Supreme Court, who have consistently ruled against women's rights," -- Kim ends her sentence with a comma and not a period.  Cass Sunstein is one of Barack's advisors.  Sunstein endorsed John Roberts appointment to the Courtchicago dyke (Corrente) takes on Sunstein's latest stupidity, "Is the man really that dumb? That is, does he truly fail to understand that naming a post 'trimmers' that discusses reproductive and sexual rights places him squarely in the ass of many a joke? What a fool. The argument he makes there too is stupid. I guess young pregnant women don't deserve any rights because you know, they're too young to have sex but when they do and they get pregnant they can't be trusted to decide for themselves what to do about it, and anyway if Daddy's the Father he deserves to have another say in how to use her body Maturely, or something…"
As for Barack and abortion rights, Marie Cocco (Washington Post Writers Group) noted of Barack, "One thing is certain: Obama has backhandedly given credibility to the right-wing narrative that women who have abortions -- even those who go through the physically and mentally wrenching experience of a late-term abortion -- are frivolous and selfish creatures who might perhaps undergo this ordeal because they are 'feeling blue'." A point Kim chooses to ignore.  If Gandy's going to rail against Bully Boy's appointees (Alito and Roberts) she might take a minute to find out where Barack's team stood on those appointments.  But Gandy's been hawking Barack like an Amway product for sometime now.  When she tried it at NOW's July convention, the response from NOW members was underwhelming which should have been Gandy's first clue that NOW ("for women") should either sit out the 2008 election or endorse the ticket of Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente.  Unlike Barack, Cynthia actually has a strong leglislative record on women's issues (no "present" votes, not even one).  But Gandy proved it was all about sucking up to perceived power and not about being "for women" throughout 2008.  Since NOW cannot endorse (or risk losing their tax status), Kim Gandy's statements should be pulled from NOW's website and appear only at NOW PAC (where it already appears).  Failure to do so means more McCain-Feingold work on soft money is strongly needed.  But, hey, just PULL THE TAX EXEMPTION STATUS ALREADY.  Kim Gandy went on NPR's Morning Edition today and repeatedly referred to NOW PAC's endoresement (as did Renee Montagne) as a "NOW endorsement."  She can't do that.  NOW proper CANNOT make an endorsement.  Kim Gandy's actions are begging for NOW's tax status to be pulled.
NOW PAC is a much smaller organization than NOW so Gandy hopes to piggy back on NOW proper (which actually has national name recognition) -- even though it skirts the law.  Lisal Loring (The Daily Kenoshan) notes that voter choice isn't just an abstract, it's a genuine issue and quotes Cynthia McKinney explaining, "I sponsored the Voter Choice Act in Congress, which would have provided for the use of ranked choice voting in Congressional elections. I fought to defend and reauthorize the Voting Rights Act. I have long been a supporter of publicly financed elections. I have advocated same-day voter registration. I voted in opposition to requiring photo ID for voting in federal elections."  Cynthia McKinney's long Congress record (she served several terms -- Barack hasn't even completely his first) allowed her to amass a strong voting record on what Project Vote Smart calls "abortion issues" -- 29 chances to vote and she only missed one.  (McKinney was in the US House of Rep from 1995 to 2003 and from 2005 to 2007.) Barack's been in the Senate since 2005.  Project Vote Smart shows four times he could have stood up.  In 2005 he did.  The other three votes?  He didn't bother to vote.  But hey, Kim Gandy loves him, that's good enough for . . . well for Kim Gandy.  Here's Cynthia on some of the stands she took on reproductive rights: "In 1999, I voted NO on barring the interstate transportation of minors to get an abortion. I supported funding contraception and UN family planning. I voted NO to oppose banning partial-birth abortions. In 2001, I voted NO on banning Family Planning funding in US aid abroad and NO on a new federal crime for harming a fetus while committing other crimes. In 2005, I voted NO on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions."  Cynthia stood up.  Kim Gandy cowered.  One's a leader, one's desperately hoping to be invited to the party.
Apparently, Cynthia McKinney doesn't speak to Kim Gandy or NOW PAC.  That's a good reason to revisit McKinney's July 12th acceptance speech when she won the presidential nomination (in a real roll call vote -- not the farce the Democratic Party offered) of the Green Party:
In 1851, in Akron, Ohio a former slave woman, abolitionist, and woman's rights activist by the name of Sojourner Truth gave a speech now known as "Ain't I a Woman." Sojourner Truth began her remarks, "Well children, where there is so much racket, there must be something out of kilter." She then went on to say that even though she was a woman, no one had ever helped her out of carriages or lifted her over ditches or given her a seat of honor in any place. Instead, she acknowledged, that as a former slave and as a black woman, she had had to bear the lash as well as any man; and that she had borne "thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And Ain't I a woman?" Finally, Sojourner Truth says, "If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!"         
As it was in 1851, so too it is in 2008. There is so much racket that we, too, know something is out of kilter. In 1851, the racket was about a woman's right to vote. In 1848, just a few years before Sojourner uttered those now famous words, "Ain't I a Woman?" suffragists met in Seneca Falls, New York and issued a declaration.     
That declaration began: 
"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government . . . But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of the women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled."        
Two hundred sixty women and forty men gathered in Seneca Falls, NY and declared their independence from the politics of their present and embarked upon a struggle to create a politics for the future. That bold move by a handful of people in one relatively small room laid the groundwork and is the precedent for what we do today. The Seneca Falls Declaration represented a clean break from the past: Freedom, at last, from mental slavery. The Seneca Falls Declaration and the Akron, Ohio meeting inaugurated 72 years of struggle that ended with the passage of the 19th Amendment in August of 1920, granting women the right to vote. And 88 years later, with the Green Party as its conductor, the History Train is rolling down the tracks.        
[. . .] 
My son grew up playing on the Floor underneath my desk in the Chamber of the Georgia House of Representatives. His buddies were the legislators down there, under the Gold Dome, who were my and my father's colleagues.           
[. . .]       
Women are still the overwhelming profile of the minimum wage worker in this country. 65% of all minimum wage workers are women, according to 2005 statistics. Despite the law, women still go to work every day, performing the same tasks as men, yet bring home less pay than their male counterparts. Asian-American and Pacific Island women make 88 cents for every dollar earned by men, but African-American women earn only 72 cents and my Latina sisters earn only 60 cents for every dollar earned by men. Overall, according to 2007 statistics, women with similar education, skills, and experience are paid 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. Equal pay for equal work is not yet a reality for working women in this country. And the glass ceiling is all too real.   
[. . .]       
It is for all these reasons and more that I redeclare my goals in the language of my sisters who convened at Seneca Falls, NY 160 years ago. They wrote: "It is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security." That declaration not only avoids the politics of the past, it contains a kernel for the future. How can those new guards for the future be won?" Here's how: When I was first running for Congress and it was the year of the woman, women all over the country were saying, "We want our seat at the table." And when I got to Washington, I saw that policy was really made in a room, at a table. There were real seats at the table. Well, imagine what has happened to public policy making now.           
Apparently there was nothing in the above speech that NOW PAC could endorse.  What a proud day today is for the National Organization FOR Women.  Maybe Cynthia needs to be asking NOW PAC, "Ain't I a woman?"  Maybe NOW PAC needs to read NOW's mission statement: "Our prupose is to take action to bring women into full participation in society -- sharing equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities with men, while living free from discrimination."  To NOW PAC, that translates as "endorse men, ignore the women of color ticket, ignore that Cynthia has a long record of standing up for women's rights, go with Barack because we can do a trade-off and hopefully look like power players inside the Beltway!"  Someone ask Kim to explain how endorsing Obama-Biden over Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente reaches NOW's "priority issues" (advancing reproductive freedom, promoting diversity & ending racism, stopping violence against women, winning lesbian rights, achieving Constitutional equality and ensuring economic justice)?  Answer?  It doesn't. 
Meanwhile Barack played True Confessions.  Delilah Boyd (A Scriverner's Lament -- video and text) emphasizes this statement by Barack on yesterday's Good Morning America, "If we're going to ask questions about, you know, who has been promulgating negative ads that are completely unrelated to the issues at hand, I think I win that context pretty handily."  Staying with TV for a moment, this Friday's NOW on PBS will be an hour long special broadcast and will examine women -- in the electorate and in office.  Ralph Nader is the indepenent presidential candidate.  Team Nader notes:
Cardoso, my feathered friend, you've come from flying over the Amazon jungle to a cage in Utah--albeit an open-door cage with a fine master. Do not feel alone, Cardoso. Millions of voters have also been put into a cage. It is a corporate-dominated, two-party cage with no open door unless they break out and vote for Nader/Gonzalez. This ticket stands tall for justice, peace and freedom within a competitive democracy.
Last night, fifteen of the best and brightest of the Nader/Gonzalez campaign -- some of them pictured here -- met at our DC headquarters office.
And they decided as a group.
To bypass the mainstream media.
And take it directly to the American people.
Door to door.
Person to person.
The best and the brightest of our ballot access drive.
The warriors who put Nader/Gonzalez on the ballot in 45 states.
They will now be deployed to key states.
With tens of thousands of lawn signs.
Hundreds of thousands of pamphlets.
And ready to make thousands of phone calls.
To inform the American people that they now have a choice in November.
For a candidacy that will shift the power from the corporations, back into the hands of the American people.
With ballot access now complete.
With Nader/Gonzalez polling well in a number of key swing states.
We're ready to strike.
As you know, we're in the final two days of our Get Out the Vote Fundraising Drive.
Our goal: $80,000 by tomorrow night.
Right now, thanks to your ongoing support, we're at $62,000.
So, we need to raise $9,000 today.
And $9,000 tomorrow.
We're within striking distance.
And remember, if you give $100 or more now, we will send you In Pursuit of Justice, the 520-page book of essays by Ralph Nader -- essays on corporate power, the Constitution, and transforming our country. If you donate $100 now, we will send you this historic collection -- autographed by the man himself -- Ralph Nader. (This offer ends at 11:59 p.m. September 17, 2008.)