Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ron Paul is the "Least" Offensive Republican Candidate

I really get a laugh, sadly, over centrist and liberal Democrats who think Ron Paul is a devil. From my view as a self described radical progressive, Ron Paul is actually the least objectionable of the Republicans. As I see it, while the other Republican candidates are 80 to 90% wrong, Ron Paul is at least 50% right.

Ron Paul is to the Republican Party what Dennis Kucinich is to the Democrats: a person whose politics is based on analysis according to principle rather than expediency according to power. As a person of libertarian principles, Ron Paul is as much a pariah to Wall Street Republicans as Kucinich's progressivism is anathema to Wall Street Democrats.

Now, as a progressive I personally find that libertarianism has a profound flaw consisting of myopic lacunae as deep as a canyon resulting in an irreparable breach of logic that is avoided and wrapped in dense layers of denial. Because of this flaw, libertarians are hated by both sides of the Wall Streeters who control bot parties. Leaving aside for now the nature of the flaw of libertarian analysis, merely on the principle that a political philosophy that is so hated by Wall Street can't be all bad, I would imagine that liberal Democrats would not be so hostile towards it or Ron Paul.

For now, Wall Streeters are in control of both the Republican and Democratic Parties and so they set the machinery of marginalization against those within the two parties represented by Paul and Kucinich. Libertarians and progressives (real progressives, not the fake kind like Clinton) within each party who rest their analysis of political events and foreign and domestic policies upon principled positions rather than upon lobbyists and vested interests are hated the most by the Wall Streeters because money plays no role in the decision making process, except where it really counts, in determining what the actual costs of proposals will be.

For example, liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans make decisions under the influence of who will profit? The cost of the Iraq war is hardly a concern for Wall Street liberals and conservatives alike. However, to libertarians and progressives, the cost of the Iraq war is outrageous to historical proportions and who is profiting from that cost is an abomination of justice, and of both republican and democratic (small "r" and "d" intended) principles.

Now, libertarianism as represented by Ron Paul, has a very solid basis in support of civil liberties. This is the area of agreement where libertarians and progressive can find their most common ground. Also in the arena of foreign policy, libertarians like Paul agree with progressives that the Constitution gives the war powers to Congress, not the President, so a Paul presidency would oppose interventionism and the adventurism of regime change such as is occurring in Iraq. Liberal Democrats should recognize those pluses without apology.

Clearly, it is in the area of fiscal analysis and policy that libertarianism and progressivism diverge the most widely. Libertarians and progressives both believe in the general principle of balanced budgets, but libertarians would balance a budget by minimizing government spending while progressives would balance a budget by maximizing revenue collections, especially by increased tax rates for wealthy individuals and corporations. While libertarians and progressives tend to a much greater degree to be Constitutionalists, from the progressive point of view, the libertarian view of minimal government is carried to a such an extreme that it reaches the point of violating the Constitutional purpose of Promoting the General Welfare. Progressives view libertarians to be fundamentally anti-social and in that extremism to deny the inherent and basic social premises of the Constitution

But even with this most fundamental disagreement, I would rather engage in a debate over this Constitutional principle with a president like Paul who would engage in that debate on the basis of principles, than with any other Republican who cares not a whit for analysis, principle, or debate, and instead simply states like Bush, "I'm the decider."

Updated Post Script: Just to be clear about "Dr. Paul" as his fans like to call him. The most offensive thing about him to me is that he is supported by white supremists and he doesn't go far enough to disavow their views. Paul says that racism is incompatible with libertarianism because libertarianism is individualism. He says the "collectivist" view sees people as part of a group, such as "whites" and "blacks," but as a libertarian he sees all people as individuals. That sounds almost good, but again, it really amounts to a denial of our social reality by hiding it behind the label "collectivist".

An individualist who denies the collectivity of social groups is as one-sided as a collectivist who denies the essential uniqueness of the individual.

Paul needs to say plainly that racism, prejudice, and segregation are wrong. But I don't think he can say that because in the view of libertarian individualism, individuals are allowed to be racist as an individual right. He can say it is wrong to not see and treat people as individuals, but he doesn't seem capable of saying that prejudice is wrong.

Because he believes in individuals and that government should be as limited as possible, he believes that the government should not enforce desegregation or prevent racial prejudice. That is why he is found so attractive to white supremists who see in him the dismantaling of the protections against wrongful discrimination. Paul would let the military, government, and all public accomodations allow discrimination as the exercise of individual rights even when he is supposed to be opposed to collectivist views, becasue he puts the right of the individual to be collectivist (e.g., racist) above the right of the individual to have to suffer from the collectivist view if it requires government to enforce that protection. This is another example of the failure of libertarianism to deal adequately with the social contract.

Updatede Post Post Script Well, the more I think about it the more tenuous I feel about the title of this blog. The problem is that Ron Paul is very on target with so much of what he says, but the stuff that he is off target about is to off target that it goes between the goofy to the really creepy.

Compare Ron Paul and the second least objectionable Republican John McCain. McCain seems like a relatively good guy, but he endorsed the war and supports the war with such a vengence that it is hard to compare the deaths of hundreds of thousands,if not over a million, of Iraqis for US pride with the delusional racism of Paul that doesn't seem to have any current credibility beoynd the loony reich wing. In other words the things that Paul is offensive with are very offensive but have little clout in todays world and in fact are so ridiculous that they really make him laughable. What is scary about him is that he and his followers take him so seriously and don't see the irony of a politician who make individualism into a fetish yet is a white supremacist.

Here's a link to a pdf file of the Ron Paul Political Report of June 15, 1992, Volume VI, Number 6, titled "A Special Issue on Racial Terrorism."

Some of the nasty quotes from this offensive writing include:

Of Washington D. C. he says,
"I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal. If similar in-depth studies were conducted in other major cities, who doubts that similar results would be produced?"

And this gem:
"Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began."

Here's a link to a New Republic story on it.

Here's a link to a DailyKos contributor's diary about this, titled Ron Paul's Racist Newsletters Revealed

And here are comments by Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks.

I don't see any way for Ron Paul to argu his way out of responsibility for this racist piece of writing.

Monday, November 12, 2007

What does it mean to see a UFO?

Since Tim Russert attacked Dennis Kucinich with the UFO question in the debates, the media have refused to take on Russert for his spurious hit-man tactics. If Russert had even an iota of seriousness to his question he would have been prepared with a second question: "What did you see?" But of course Russert was not interested in anything serious or any real issues in the election. He was only interested in a gotcha moment attack, not in what is the significance of a candidate who has the courage and honesty to share the fact that he once saw a UFO. Isn't this a candidate whose integrity and honesty is to be depended upon rather than the other candidates who would belittle an honest person?

Dave Lindorff's column below is a welcome divergence from the media prejudice around UFOs. Lindorff has the courage to put the real issue on the table: "There are more things under heaven, Tim Russert,than are contemplated by your philosophy."

The wackos in the media like Russert and those in both the Republican and Democrat parties are people who like to twist the UFO question into the X Files. Seeing something "unidentified" in the sky is just that, nothing more. Seeing a UFO does not mean seeing "little green men" or "alien shapeshifters" or even "spaceships."
Very many credible and average people have seen UFOs including military and civilian aircraft pilots, policemen, firemen, astronauts, utility company linemen, etc.
But when someone like Tim Russert and Chris Wallace make an issue about UFOs without actually doing any research or questioning about what was seen, then you know they are not acting as "reporters" but as media hit men.

Also Lindorff makes an excellent point about the strange and irrational beliefs of religion that go unquestioned while a reasonable and rational and truthful comment about seeing something unidentified in the sky is ridiculed. It is an irrational belief to say a man was killed on a cross and rose physically and literally from the dead. That is far more wacko than UFOs. Rising from the dead is a wonderful mythic metaphor found in many religions, including Buddhism which has several stories of bodily resurrection, but to believe that it happened literally, and then in additions to only one man in the entire history of the earth is really wacko. It equals Pat Robertson's comments about 9/11 which are wacko yet the media and Russert continue to treat Robertson as someone who deserves the time of day in news reports.

When Democrats who support Kucinich's rival candidates twist and spin a vanilla flavored UFO sighting into a belief in alien shapeshifters and little green men, then you know that they are as immature and childish as any neo-con Republican and that the Democrat Party is in deep trouble, perhaps irreparable trouble, as a Party that looks like it will never support a progressive candidate and will use any stupid prejudice to undermine progressive issues.

Also the Democrats who use this against Kucinich are clearly misinforming the public about this issue. That deserves to be spoken about. The taboo of ridicule on talking about UFOs is like taboo on talking about domestic battery used to be with people acting it never happened and afraid to talk about it for fear of social stigma. It is not until people talk openly about it that we can make informed decisions as a body politic. That is the basis of democracy and the taboo of ridicule enforced by Russert is an example of the despicable bias of the mainstream media hit-men.

I Saw a UFO, Too By Dave Lindorff

DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based investigative reporter and journalist. His latest book, co-authored by Barbara Olshansky, is "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006 and now in paperback). His work is available at

Mon, 11/12/2007 - 17:42 — dlindorff

It was predictable that just as people in the Democratic primary states are starting to notice that of all the candidates running for the party's nomination, it is Dennis Kucinich who stands solidly for everything that they care about--ending the war, impeaching the president and vice president, establishing universal government-funded health care (with the blood-sucking insurance industry out of the picture), ending trade agreements like NAFTA that just ship US jobs overseas, respecting international law, restoring the Constitution, insuring the unfettered right to abortion on demand, etc.--the media would attempt to label him a wacko.

Tim Russert played the hitman, asking Kucinich in the last debate whether he'd ever seen a UFO, and then cutting him off so he could only answer yes without any real explanation.

Well, let me join Dennis and say that I too have seen a UFO. Two actually, though the first one was explained later.

The first, which I saw when I was in high school, appeared as a bright light in the sky, then rapidly expanded into big green circle, which then faded away. There were two more of these events. I was awestruck. So were thousands of people who began calling police departments to report them. It turned out, as we read in the paper the next day, that NASA had fired three rockets from Wallops Island off Virginia, up some 60 miles into space, where they exploded, releasing some kind of green gas. So it was a UFO for a day. Then it was an IFO-- an identified flying object.

The other sighting remains a UFO. It happened back around 1970. I was travelling in the late afternoon, right around sunset, down Route 9 from Middletown, CT to Old Saybrook. As I was driving, I noticed a small shiny object up in the sky flying parallel to the ground in the same direction as I was, but at a remarkably high rate of speed. The sun was glinting off of it, making it especially bright. It caught my attention because it was flying much faster than a commercial jet, and was leaving no contrail. There was no apparent shape to it. That is, I couldn't see wings or a tail, but it was pretty far off.

I was just speculating as to whether it might be a supersonic military jet when suddenly the thing made an abrupt right angle turn, way beyond the capabilities of any airplane--and so fast that anyone sitting inside it would have been killed by the G-forces--and then shot straight up into the sky, much faster than before, and just disappeared.

Now that was bizarre!

I still don't know what to make of it.

There may be an explanation somewhere that would make this an IFO, but for me, it remains a UFO.

So does that preclude me from being taken seriously if I write about plans to restore the draft, or about the impeachable crimes of the Bush/Cheney administration?

Of course not.

I'm a major skeptic when it comes to UFO's. It seems to me highly unlikely that any civilization technologically advanced enough to have mastered interstellar flight would have any interest in our pathetically primitive activities here on earth, if they even knew we were here, plus the odds of there being such a highly advanced civilization anywhere within a thousand lightyears of the earth are incredibly small.

Still, some rather credible people--airline pilots and police officers--have reported seeing some very strange things over the years, and the galaxy (not to mention the universe), is a mighty big place.

It would be wacky to simply assert that extraterrestrial life does not exist. And it would be wrong to say that there are not UFOs. Indeed, it seems to me it is far more likely that there are aliens in this universe and even that they visit us occasionally, than that there is some omnipotent god who is running the show, or that, if he/she/it exists, that god would give a rat's ass about us here on Earth.

Neither Dennis Kucinich nor I are saying we saw aliens. I don't know what Kucinich saw, but I know what I saw, and it wasn't something that could be easily explained away as a plane or a rocket.

So I'm calling it a UFO.

And I feel much more comfortable voting for someone for president who admits to having seen a UFO like I have, than for someone who says god talks to him, or who says she won't preclude dropping a nuclear weapon on Afghanistan, and who cannot envision herself absolutely committing to having all US troops out of Iraq five years (!) from now!

Thanks Dave Lindroff, for having the courage to talk about this issue.


Here's an interesting report that provides a context for Russert's hit-man ridicule tactics in favor of stigma as a poltical weapon.

National Press Club: Pilots To Tell Their UFO Stories
posted on Thursday, November 08, 2007

November 1, 2007 Press Release

Original Link (pdf)

UFO Close Encounters
The Reality as Seen by Former High Level Government and Military Officials

Pilots to Tell Their UFO Stories for the First Time

November 12th Group to call on US Government to Re-Open its Investigation

WHEN: Monday, November 12, 2007 11:00 AM

WHERE: National Press Club Ballroom Event open to credentialed media and Congressional staff only

The American public is not alone when it comes to sighting what the US Air Force has labeled Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). So too have former governors, high level military and government officials, highly trained airplane pilots and aviation experts. The phenomenon is real. It happens worldwide. No one is sure about its nature. Experts from seven countries will divulge what they have discovered about UFOs at a November 12 panel discussion moderated by former Arizona Governor Fife Symington (R) at the National Press Club.

Just one year ago, pilots, mechanics and managers from United Airlines witnessed a metallic disc-shaped object hovering over the United Airlines Terminal at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. The clearly observed object shot straight up leaving a hole through the clouds. Despite the clear aviation safety issues involved, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) never investigated the incident and dismissed it as weather. This head-in-the-clouds refusal to investigate stands in sharp contrast to efforts by governments of other countries to understand these incidents.

"I believe that our government should take an active role in investigating this very real phenomenon," said Symington, who was a witness to the famed 'Phoenix Lights" incident seen by hundreds in Arizona while he was governor. "This panel consists of some of the most qualified people in the world with direct experience in dealing with this issue, and they will bring incredible, irrefutable evidence, some never presented before, that we simply cannot dismiss or ignore," he said.

The group, using previously classified documents, will discuss many well-documented cases, including two investigated by the US government. The first involves a Peruvian Air Force pilot who fired many rounds at a UFO which was not affected. The second was an Iranian Air Force pilot's attempt to fire at a UFO, but whose control panel became inoperable. "This case is a classic that meets all the necessary conditions for a legitimate study of the UFO phenomenon," stated the US Defense Intelligence Agency document on the Tehran incident. Both pilots will come forward to speak about these events publicly for the first time.

WHO: Fife Symington, Former Arizona Governor, Moderator
Ray Bowyer, Captain, Aurigny Air Services, Channel Islands
Rodrigo Bravo, Captain and Pilot for the Aviation Army of Chile
General Wilfried De Brouwer, former Deputy Chief of Staff, Belgian Air Force (Ret.)
John Callahan, Chief of Accidents and Investigations for the FAA, 1980's (Ret.) Dr. Anthony Choy, founder, 2001, OIFAA, Peruvian Air Force
Jean-Claude Duboc, Captain, Air France (Ret.)
Charles I. Halt, Col. USAF (Ret.), Former Director, Inspections Directorate, DOD I.G.
General Parviz Jafari, Iranian Air Force (Ret.)
Jim Penniston, TSgt USAF (Ret.)
Dr. Claude Poher, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, founder, French GEPAN
Nick Pope, Ministry of Defence, UK, 1985-2006
Dr. Jean-Claude Ribes, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France, 1963-98
Comandante Oscar Santa Maria, Peruvian Air Force (Ret.)

WHAT: Former Arizona Governor Fife Symington will moderate a distinguished panel of former high-ranking government, aviation, and military officials from seven countries to discuss close encounters with what the US Air Force describes as Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). Representatives from France, England, Belgium, Chile, Peru, Iran and the US will call for the US Government to join in an international dialogue and re-open its investigation -- which the Air Force shut down over 30 years ago -- in cooperation with other governments currently dealing with this unusual and controversial phenomenon. While on active duty, the panelists have either witnessed a UFO incident or have conducted an official investigation into UFO cases relevant to aviation safety and national security.

WHEN: Monday, November 12, 2007, 11:00 AM

WHERE: National Press Club Ballroom
Event open to credentialed media and Congressional staff only

CONTACT: James Fox, documentary filmmaker; director of the acclaimed film “Out of the Blue” (415) 519-9631

Leslie Kean, investigative journalist with the Coalition for Freedom of Information (415) 250-9791

Friday, November 09, 2007

Who's Really Burning the Flag?

As a fan of The Young Turks, I peruse their website and today producer Jayar Jackson (nicknamed "The Reverend") posted a good blog titled Voyeristic Voting Leads to Presumed Patriotism.

Jayar was responding to the right-wing nuts who are criticizing Barack Obama for holding his hands in front of himself while listening to the National Anthem instead of having his hand over his heart. He conncected this latest outrageous attack of false patriotism to the previous attacks on Obama for not wearing an American flag lapel pin.

Logic should scream that Barack Obama shouldn't have to tell you that his grandfather taught him the Pledge of Allegiance when he was 2 years old. Common sense should prevail when you wonder if his missing American flag lapel pin allowed over 3,800 U.S. soldiers to be killed in Iraq on false pretenses. Questioning if he will restore habeas corpus, privacy, and civil rights to all American citizens, including ones that have sex in their own homes differently than him is a nice place to look first. Will the healthcare puzzle that many other countries figured out be solved? How about whether or not our troops that the Republican Party claims as their own will begin to be treated with the dignity, respect, and basic treatment that they deserve when/if they return home? Do our third world-like cities such as New Orleans have the capabilities to survive another Hurricane Katrina? Will it take over two more years of filth, disease, and random violence to begin to revive our lost city? What steps will he take to stop the terrorist-recruiting and anti-American practice of torture that yields false information? Is the candidate going to threaten another sovereign country with unprovoked attacks because of what their leader likes to say about others?

If you think the answers to these questions lie in his American flag pin, whether or not he places his hands on his chest, butt, crotch, or stomach during the national anthem, or if his name comically sounds similar to that of a Muslim, then have fun in your fantasy world called the Matrix. When you see an agent, run, Neo, run!

At the end of his blog, the first comment from reader named acroso notes, "Obama supports flag burning too." with the link to a 2006 statement why Obama supports legislation to make flag burning illegal but not a Constitutional Amendment.

"And when I became a Senator, I swore an oath to protect the Constitution. Under that oath, my first allegiance is not to a political party, or to an ideology, or to a president, or even to popular opinion, but to the Constitution and to the rule of law.

"The Framers made it difficult to amend the Constitution because our founding document should not be changed just because of political concerns or temporary problems. And even the strongest supporters of this amendment are hard-pressed to find more than a few instances of flag burning each year. Those problems were left to be solved through legislation, and I support legislation introduced by Senator Durbin that makes it illegal to burn the flag without changing the Constitution. The Constitution has only been amended 27 times. These amendments include guarantees of our most basic freedoms, the freedom of religion, the right to a trial by jury, the protection against cruel punishment."

After reading the statement of Obama in the light of Jayar's comments, I posted this response.


Reverend Jayar, you can write. I hope this was written before Screen Writers Guild strike so the conservatives won't accuse you of being a scab.

If anyone, soldiers included, thinks that our soldiers are fighting a war to protect our flag, then they are greatly mistaken. The flag is a cloth symbol for our national fabric that is woven from the Constitution. It is the Constitution that needs protecting, not the flag.

Though Barack Obama says flag burning is a rare event, he is only talking of literal flags and flames. But in truth flag burning is a daily event. Today it is the conservatives and neo-cons who are "burning" the meaning of the flag every day at the very time they are holding it aloft, because they are waving the flag in order to tear out pages of the Constitution that they don't like, not to protect the Consitution and our AMerican freedoms. Every single neo-con and right-wing reactionary who wears a flag on his or her lapel is burning the flag with the flames of their false patiotism.

Here are some of my favorite quotes on the difference between true and false patriotism:

"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship ...Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."
- Hermann Goering, Luftwaffe Commander, Nuremberg Trials 1946
- from "Nuremberg Diary" by G M Gilbert (Signet, New York, 1947)

"There is an important difference between being patriotic and chauvinistic. The patriot places his country within the context of international conflicts; the chauvinist is a "vain country bumpkin" who believes that the world ends within his country's borders."
~ Marginal Notes on the Crime" by Celia Hart (August 25, 2004)

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else." -~Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President (1858-1919)

"Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it "
--George Bernard Shaw

"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons."
--Bertrand Russell

"A politician will do anything to keep his job even become a patriot."
--William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) US newspaper publisher, Recalled on his death 14 Aug 1951

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."
Author: Samuel Johnson
Source: Boswell's Life of Johnson

"In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary, patriotism is defined as the last refuge of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first."
~Author: Ambrose Bierce

"This heroism at command, this senseless violence, this accursed bombast of patriotism--how intensely I despise them!"
~Author: Albert Einstein

"One of the great attractions of patriotism - it fulfils our worst wishes. In the person of our nation we are able, vicariously, to bully and cheat. Bully and cheat, what's more, with a feeling that we are profoundly virtuous."
- Aldous Huxley

"Patriotism has become a mere national self assertion, a sentimentality of flag-cheering with no constructive duties."
~Author: H.G. Wells (Herbert George Wells)
Source: Future in America

"True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else."
- Clarence Darrow

Lastly, here's one to consider for the those false patriots who support the occupation of Iraq. It was said during the time of our Revolutionary War by an Englishman responding to questions from his fellow Lords about why the American insurgents continued to attack the English Redcoats:

"If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country I never would lay down my arms,--never! never! never!"
~Author: William Pitt, Earl of Chatham
Source: in a speech 1777

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kucinich Isn't Controlled by Wall Street's, Insurance's or Weapons' Money$

Dennis Kucinich is the Democrat's Democrat. He's the only candidate who opposed the war in Congress and gave the members of Congress his arguments why it was wrong. He's been proven 100% correct. He's the only candidate who had the foresight and analytical ability to explain the situation and stick to it. (Obama said he opposed the war but after being elected he then voted for every bill funding the war until recently.) He's the only candidate in office who has not been bought by Wall Street and other big business interests. He's the only candidate who has presented an actual bill into Congress for a practical exit strategy out of Iraq -- HR 1234. He's the only candidate who has supported HR 676 medicare for all. He's the only candidate who supports impeachment and has introduced a bill to impeach Cheney. He's the only candidate who voted against the Patriot Act.

After pointing out that neither Clinton, Obama, and Edwards would commit to leaving Iraq before 2013, Kucinich says,
"Think about the Democratic nominee standing next to the Republican nominee for the November 2008 election. What happens if the Democrats choose someone who was for the war, who voted to fund the war, and who has taken positions that, say, of Iran "all options are on the table" -- where's the debate?"

[Since that debate, Edwards has backtracked and now says he wants to pull out all the "combat" troops within 9 to 10 months, but he wants to keep a 5,000 soldier brigade in Iraq to "protect the embassy" and prevent civil war, which is really just an invitation to more troops being brought back in to protect those troops.]

Kucinich is the only candidate in office who has the guts to say that we went to war for "OIL".

Check out this 23 minute interview with Paul Krugman on The Young Turks. At 14:00 Krugman says his answer to the budget problem is health care reform. Then host Cenk Uygur asks, "What kind of health care reform do you envision that would work to fix that problem?" Krugman says, "Ideally, Medicare for all." What is weird is that Krugman doesn't give recognition to HR 676 the Conyers-Kucinich bill that would establish Medicare For All.

And later at the end Uygur asks which president Krugman would pick and Krugman says "Not allowed, Times rules." referring to the policy of the NY Times where he is a columnist. But then he adds, "I'm a progressive. John Edwards has been pushing the progressive cause. All of the other leading Democrats, Hillary has been matching him with a lag." It is a sad commentary that Krugman plays the front runner game and again fails to mention that Kucinich is the progressive who advocates Medicare For All which is the fix that Krugman says is needed as well as the other real progressive issues. This is the problem that Democracy has when the candidate with the plans that people like Krugman actually advocate gets ignored for a candidate like Edwards who has the front runner glamore but doesn't have the actual progressive health care plan that Krugman supports.

Here's Kucinich's appearance at the SEIU Candidates' Healthcare Forum in Las Vegas where Kucinich makes all the same points that Krugman makes about why Medicare For All is the fix for health care reform.

Kucinich says in no uncertain terms that the for-profit insurance companies should be taken out of the health care equation. He says,
Today at this forum, the sub-message is that you can't break the hold that the insurance companies have. Not a single candidate up here has challenged the underlying problem with our health care system. And that is insurance companies are holding our health care system hostage and forcing millions of Americans into poverty with unconscionable premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. [Applause] So I ask you, is it consonant with America's greatness that candidates step away from the one solution that could change it all -- a not for profit health care system is not only possible but HR 676 a bill that I've introduced in a number of Congresses, the Conyers-Kuciinich Bill, actually establishes Medicare For All, a single-payer system and its a not for profit system. It's time we ended this thought that health care is a privilege, it is a basic right. And its time we ended the control that insurance companies have not only over health care, but over our political system.

This is exactly what Krugman as an economist is saying is needed, but while Edwards, Obama, and Clinton continue to play footsie with the insurance companies and to put forward health care plans that attempt to let the insurance companies continue their profits, only Kucinich has put forward a nuts and bolts plan to remove the insurance companies from setting health care costs and availability.

It is time to wake up and be proud of and to support the Democrat who is advocating the real reforms necessary to make this a nation of the people, by the people and for the people, and not a nation for the big business interests who are paying for Obama's, Edwards', and Clinton's campaigns.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Zen of Kucinich's "Strength Through Peace"

A diary by WinSmith (short for Winston Smith the protaganist in Orwell's 1984) in the Dalily Kos blog site had a witty attack on Bush and the Republicans that brings up Zen:
When the President Poops, It Is Not Poop
Mon Oct 29, 2007 at 07:50:46 AM PDT

I've come to the conclusion that the radical republican zealots running this country aren't actually the batshit insane sexually frustrated war mongering incompetents that they appear to be.

They're actually Zen Buddhist Eastern Mystics offering us the most profound Enlightenment we could ever hope to acquire. We just can't see it.
The republicans aren't just the most corrupt, anti-American and disastrous political party to hold power in this country's history. They're also teaching us a valuable lesson in perception:

What we see is not what we see. Poop is not poop.

Reality is simply a construction in our minds. It's whatever we want it to be.

Oh sure, this fact free form of self delusion has gotten hundreds of thousands killed and damaged the entire 200+ year framework of our government.

But it's so mystical, man.
Because so long as we lie to ourselves inside our own minds, so long as we control our own critical thinking to automatically fall into line like intellectual lemmings, we will never again have to worry about anything at all.

Just wait for our cues.

Let the mouthpieces at Fox simply tell you what the new "truth" is, and PRESTO, it is!!

Think about how wonderful and glorious that state of mind will be!!

We can WIN in Iraq even as the country descends into chaos and disaster. We care about a "culture of life" even as millions of American children are denied healthcare.

But none of that will matter. Because if the president says his poop is not poop, then it is not poop.

It is the Zen Republican Mantra of "truth."

And it will set us all free of worries. Free of our money. Free of our environment. Free of a future.

I thought it was cute, but it does present a misunderstanding of Zen that is every bit as false as the falsehoods of the Republicans that are being criticized.

Another blogger, MarkC, wrote in response:

Could you choose a better analogy?

One of the things I like about Zen is that it is not well suited to denying reality in an "Emperor has no clothes" kind of way. Its denial of conventional reality is not selective -- you can't say "When the president takes a poop, it is no longer a poop" unless you're also saying "when anyone takes a poop, it is not a poop."

Most kinds of Zen are asking you to question the things you believe are objective about reality, but not selectively. It is part of a therapy to realize that the things you think you desire like immense wealth are not really desireable. If the Republicans were really such "Eastern Mystics" they would realize that material goods, profit off of no-bid contracts, and bloody oil windfalls would also not be real, just as their poop is not real. And we'd all be better off for it.

I agreed with MarkC and added the following post to clarify the issue of views of reality and why Zen advocates including the absolute view along with the plain but relative truth view of reality.

You are right, Zen is about truth and love.

Okay, I'm going to be serious here and discuss why the Diarist is insulting Zen,even though he means well.

The false charge of mysticism against Zen is based on a misunderstanding about the polarized mental frames that in fact Zen teaches us to avoid.

When Zen says "reality is not reality" it is not just a mystic's nonsense. It is saying "your mental construct of reality should not be mistaken for actual reality." It is not saying "your mental construct of reality should be replaced by my mental construct of reality. Zen points oat the very interesting awareness that comes from recognizing the function of mental constructs.

In Buddhism there are "three views of reality" which are the false view plus the two truths. The first of the three views of reality are the false views based on imagination. This is the view of reality of the "horn on the rabbit" or the "fur on the turtle." We can imagine this as a fact of reality even though it is not real. This is the false view of reality of George Bush when he imagines WMD in Iraq as a fact.

Then there is the view of reality that is based on relative truth of the present. The sky is blue, the water is wet, the day is warm, the night is dark. These truths are grounded in the relative perceptions of the moment. They are the truths of people everywhere and form the basic aspirations of people. They are the basis of all folk wisdom and common sense. It is when we stray from this relative truth of reality into the false imagination of reality that we get into trouble.

The third view of reality is the absolute view of what is called the mystic experience of no-view. This absolute view can be called the experience of complete unification with reality. It is directly seeing the face of God. There are no words to adequately describe this view of reality, and because there are no adequate words, it is sometimes said, "reality is not reality" in order to drive the mind out of its complacent nesting in words and concepts. This giving up of words is necessary, otherwise, only the relative view of reality is accessible, and a person will never know the awesome joy of the unity of reality.

Without the experience of the view of absolute reality (i.e., the non-experience of the no-view) a person has a very difficult time distinguishing between relative truth view of reality and a false mental construction view of reality. When any person does have a grounding of the relative truth view of reality, it is because they have intuitively touched upon the absolute view of reality within their own mind, even if they are not conscious of having done it.

George Lakoff has presented the concept of framing in a way that helps people understand how the false mental constructions operate in arguments. But it is not just enough to provide an alternative frame or mental construction to counter the Republican false views of reality. The alternative view or frame must be grounded in the relative truth view of reality.

Unfortunately, the Democrats have as hard a time with false views of reality as the Republicans do. The Democrats often don't see the false framing by Republicans, or they share it, and so they argue about small differences within the paradigm, rather than about the paradigm itself. This is how Democratic leadership buys into the false views of reality that justify not impeaching the president, that justify continuing the war funding, that justify building a border wall between the USA and Mexico, etc.

For a good example of challenging the false view of reality that the Republicans and Democrats share in foreign policy look at Dennis Kucinich's campaign for "Strength Through Peace." This is a reframing of the paradigm of foreign policy that shifts from the false view of reality to the relative truth view of reality.

The Republican's false view of reality says that war is peace. The relative truth view of reality says peace is peace, war is war, and it is easy to tell the relative differences. The absolute view of reality says at the bottom, peace and war are relative terms that both come out of the unified state of reality so don't think that you are in a position to judge what is going on until you can tell the false view from relative truth within the context of unified truth.

This Zen view of absolute truth of reality expressed in the phrase "judge not, lest you be judged" is often mistaken as an immoral view. In deed it is not so. To help people find the absolute view of reality it is said, "think neither good or evil, what is your original face?" But once you see your original face (i.e., the face of God) then you will live in the relative truth world and know the difference between hot and cold without the confusion of being judgemental. Then you can tell the difference between real peace and war, without falling prey to the false views and propaganda that would have you support "our peace by taking the war to them" whoever that may be.

When we can see that it is a false peace that is achieved by war as an instrument of foreign policy then we can see the relative truth that says a real peace can only come by giving up war as a tool of foreign policy. You can see the relative truth that war is only useful to achieve peace when it is absolutely defensive for self protection, not for protecting the imagined ephemeral and false "US interests" anywhere around the globe. This is the meaning of Kucinich's very Zen-like "Strength Through Peace" campaign, which like the Zen in martial arts, recognizes that the master of a martial art is the one who doesn't have to use it, much less to threaten to use it, unless the other person attacks first.

Send a letter to the President about Iran

Please join me in signing a letter to President Bush opposing a war with Iran. This can be done at

You can use the letter that they have written or you can write your own letter, or you canduse their letter as an outling and edit it to suit yourself as I have done.

This is a small thing that only takes a little time but records your voice as a voice against the madman in the White House.

Thanks, Gregory

President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Rice, Secretary of Defense Gates, U.N. Secretary-General Ki-moon, Congressional Leaders and media representatives:

You are taking our great nation down the path to war again without the least shred of evidence for your outlandish claims against Iran.

You have seeded the media with false reports of an alleged nuclear threat posed by Iran. You have misled people with your presumed need for the U.S. to take military action. These reports recall your lies about the "Weapons of Mass Destruction" issued before the war on Iraq.

In the lead up to the illegal invasion of Iraq, Mr. President, you and your Administration asserted that Iraq possessed massive stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and that it was capable of launching an attack - nuclear, chemical and biological - on the U.S. within 45 minutes.
Mr. President, you said that the U.S. had to attack immediately, and could not "wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

You lied to the American people then about Iraq, and you are doing it again about Iran.

Iran is not a threat to any US interests. Iran has not invaded any other country in over 200 years. I wish I could say the same about my country. I wish I could say that my country never overthrew the legitimate government of Iran and installed a "royal" dictator on a throne against every true value of American democracy.

I add my voice to oppose a new war in the Middle East. I urge an immediate end to your campaign of sanctions, hostility, and falsehood against the people of Iran. I oppose any new U.S. aggression against Iran. Iran can be a good partner in the world if we only treat them with respect and honesty. The USA needs funds for human needs, not for endless war against fake enemies.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Open Letter to Dan Siegel, Re: KPFA Election

Open Letter to Dan Siegel,
Interim Executive Director, Pacifica Foundation
Re: KPFA Local Station board Election
October 26, 2007

Dear Mr.Siegel,

This is a reply to your "Open Letter to the Pacifica Community" dated October 24, 2007. (Attached below.)

Frankly by criticizing campaign statements and removing them form the website, I'm truly amazed that you would take a position so diametrically opposed to the First Amendment. As the Interim Executive Director of Pacifica Foundation with the grandest tradition of free speech in the United States, your anti-free speech attitude is shameful and demeaning to the Pacifica community and a stain on the Pacifica tradition.

You ask, "Is this type of rhetoric acceptable?" but you don't give even a single example of the rhetoric you are condemning. Thus you are not engaging in debate. You are attempting to stifle debate by presenting your opinion alone.

But more importantly is your attack on "rhetoric" itself! Your question -- "Is this type of rhetoric acceptable?" -- is the same question used to attack Pacifica for its broadcast of George Carlin's now famous and precedent setting rhetoric. When I read your attack on free speech I laughed wondering what would George Carlin say? I think he would say that you are acting just like the owners of America who believe they can define what rhetoric is or is not acceptable.

You confabulate the KPFA candidate statements with a WBAI candidate statement. For what purpose? There is no connection, and your including the two together in that way can only cause confusion in the Pacifica community.

You allege that the KPFA candidate statements "contain little more than personal attacks on their opponents." By offering your personal conclusion and by not offering a single example, you are unduly attempting to influence the election. The Pacifica Foundation's Fair Campaign Provisions provide:


No Foundation or radio station management or staff (paid or unpaid) may use or permit the use of radio station air time to endorse, campaign or recommend in favor of or against any candidate(s) for election as a Listener-Sponsor Delegate, nor may air time be made available to some Listener-Sponsor Delegate candidate(s) but not to others. All candidates for election as a Listener-Sponsor Delegate shall be given equal opportunity for equal air time, which air time shall include time for a statement by the candidate and a question and answer period with call-in listeners. No Foundation or radio station management or staff (paid or unpaid) may give any on-air endorsements to any candidate(s) for Listener-Sponsor Delegate. The Board of Directors may not, nor may any LSB nor any committee of the Board or of an LSB, as a body, endorse any candidate(s) for election as a Delegate. However, an individual Director or Delegate who is a Member in good standing may endorse or nominate candidate(s) in his/her individual capacity. In the event of any violation of these provisions for fair campaigning, the local elections supervisor and the national elections supervisor shall determine, in good faith and at their sole discretion, an appropriate remedy, up to and including disqualification of the candidate(s) and/or suspension from the air of the offending staff person(s) (paid or unpaid) for the remainder of the elections period. All candidates and staff members (paid and unpaid) shall sign a statement certifying that they have read and understood these fair campaign provisions." (Article 4, Section 6)

While, this provision specifically applies to "air time", the clear intent is that Foundation management is not to make use of radio station facilities to endorse in favor or against candidates. Your actions on the KPFA website and your letter do constitute endorsement against candidates in violation of the bylaws.

California law requires that a corporation provide fair and reasonable election procedures. It is not fair and reasonable to promise to allow website distribution of candidate statements and then revoke that promise at one station for arbitrary and capricious reasons while allowing the members at other stations to continue to have access to website candidate statements.

Now, you allege that campaigning against opponents by pointing out the opponents words and deeds is a "personal attack." This Orwellian definition of personal attack is simply a Republican tactic at preventing debate. Nothing in the campaign statements that you object to contained personal attack.

Providing information to listeners that they would not be able to get otherwise is not a personal attack. Providing the electors with the text of an email that advocates "dismantling the LSB" is not a personal attack. If anything is a personal attack it is your false characterization of political debate which falsely attacks the character of the candidates.

Criticizing the Interim General Manager, Lemlem Rijio, for not attending LSB meetings is not a personal attack.

Criticizing Sasha Lilly, the Interim Program Director, for telling programmers they couldn't encourage people to attend peace marches is not a personal attack.

Criticizing Sherry Gendleman, an LSB member and candidate for reelection, for being against elected boards and against program council empowerment is not a personal attack.

These are all fair political issues.

As a community and progressive organization that supports free speech we must ask ourselves whether your type of unilateral dictatorial censorship is acceptable. Pacifica has important challengers and it can only meet this challenge if robust political debate is allowed within the organization. You demonstrate the heights of cynicism to claim that stifling debate is good for the organization. You are attacking the civil rights of candidates to their political speech in the name of protecting civil rights in society. What hypocrisy!.

Free speech is established in our nation exactly to prevent petty tyrants from applying their personal definitions. What you label "toxic" debate is actually the first real debate in the new democratic structure of Pacifica. You may call the light of debate "toxic", but in this case it is only toxic to the infection that hides in the dark.

Raising the question of the "morale" of "hard-working and underpaid staff" is an indicator of your misguided views. The morale of the staff is not uniform. There are staff people who oppose the status quo. Their morale is destroyed by current control by the status-quo-conservatives within the organization. Those staff members who are so petulant as to need protecting from open debate among the listeners should either get a thicker skin or leave the organization. Staff have their input into the governing process by their election of their representatives. If the staff oppose the majority of listeners then it is the staff who will have to adapt. The Pacifica staff and programmers have traditionally ignored and demeaned any listeners who disagreed with them. This attitude is what is destructive and does not need to be enshrined by you.

Additionally, your actions are a blatant example of prejudice and favoritism since you are attempting to support and defend particular candidates against political criticism. Your duty was and is to remain neutral and to keep the appearance of impartiality in the election. You have violated this duty.

You claim that "Many people are now calling for administrative and legal responses to abusive candidate speech." Excuse me, there is no such option. First the speech has not been determined to be abusive by any means of due process. Second, there is no administrative or legal response to candidate's speech by the organization. Nothing in the Fair Campaign Provisions discusses any "abusive" speech other than the abuse of endorsements which is what you have abused.

In the process of adopting the Fair Campaign Provisions the question of abusive political debate.was raised and rejected as being against free speech and impossible to define. Your present arbitrary decision proves the wisdom of that choice. You admit that "distinguishing between reasonable criticism and 'personal attacks'" is "problematic" for the courts, yet you unilaterally and arbitrarily assert your own higher ability to do just that.

In fact, to keep nonprofits from even attempting to do what you have done, that is, to arbitrarily decide the organization might be liable for a candidate's statement and use that as justification for censorship, California specifically law protects nonprofits from any liability for candidates statements.

California Corporations Code states:

5525. (a) This section shall apply to corporations publishing or mailing materials on behalf of any nominee in connection with
procedures for the nomination and election of directors.
(b) Neither the corporation, nor its agents, officers, directors, or employees, may be held criminally liable, liable for any negligence (active or passive) or otherwise liable for damages to any person on account of any material which is supplied by a nominee for director and which it mails or publishes in procedures intended to comply with Section 5520 or pursuant to Section 5523 or 5524, but the nominee on whose behalf such material was published or mailed shall be liable and shall indemnify and hold the corporation, its agents, officers, directors and employees and each of them harmless from all demands, costs, including reasonable legal fees and expenses, claims, damages and causes of action arising out of such material or any such mailing or publication.
(c) Nothing in this section shall prevent a corporation or any of its agents, officers, directors, or employees from seeking a court order providing that the corporation need not mail or publish material tendered by or on behalf of a nominee under this article on the ground the material will expose the moving party to liability.

This section plainly protects Pacifica from any liability for any material supplied by a nominee for director. As such it would also apply to nominees for delegates where the publication is in furtherance of complying with Section 5520's fair election procedures requirement. Thus your claim that your action is defending Pacifica from complaints by other candidates is patently false. The law specifically immunizes Pacifica from these types of claims between competing candidates.

If Pacifica has a problem with any campaign materials or thinks that any liability may arise, then Section 5525 provides the remedy: seek a court order. The law says Pacifica and its agents and employees are not liable, but if there is doubt then Pacifica or its agents and employees who believe there may be liability may see a court review. You have subverted the statutory scheme by inserting your own view of potential liability for that of the due process provided by law for a court to determine if liability extends to anyone. This kind of usurpation of law is the definition of tyranny.

If one candidate has a complaint against another candidate for alleged defamation, that is a private action and has nothing to do with Pacifica. You know that political speech is the most protected speech under the First Amendment that there is. Therefore any assertion that Pacifica has a duty or obligation to infringe political speech has no basis in law.

Your actions of broadcasting your management favoritism and preference and your blatant interference in and attempt to influence the election, have now put the legitimacy of the KPFA election into doubt. You have directly exposed the organization to a viable election challenge.

I can only hope the Pacifica Community repudiates your crass attempt to influence the outcome of the election and that the Pacifica Board of Directors directly repudiates your actions so that there will be not doubt that your petty tyranny is not taken at expressing the proud tradition of free speech at Pacifica..

Gregory Wonderwheel
Santa Rosa CA


An Open Letter to the Pacifica Community
From Dan Siegel, Interim Executive Director
October 24, 2007

Dear Friends,

Pacifica's local station board elections have taken a particularly nasty turn. A group of candidates running for the KPFA local board have issued statements that contain little more than personal attacks on their opponents and station staff. A candidate at WBAI engages in blatant race-baiting.

As a community and a progressive organization we must ask ourselves whether this type of rhetoric is acceptable. Pacifica has important challenges. We live in a nation whose leaders wage unjust and unpopular wars around the globe, attack our civil rights and liberties, oppose efforts to achieve racial justice and equality for all people, and pursue policies that widen the gap between rich and poor. The often toxic debate within Pacifica restricts our ability to respond to these issues, saps the morale of our hard-working and underpaid staff, and discourages people of good will from participating in our organization.

Many people are now calling for administrative and legal responses to abusive candidate speech. We are reviewing our options, but libel laws, difficulties in distinguishing between reasonable criticism and "personal attacks" (as well as deciding who should be empowered to make such judgments), and Pacifica's tradition of support for free speech make such measures problematic.

In the end, Pacifica's members will decide whether hate speech and hateful speech will be tolerated in our community. We need leaders who will work to improve our programming, broaden our listener base, and attract needed financial support. I urge all of you to carefully review the candidate statements and to cast your ballots for candidates who reflect both your views on how this organization should be run and your values on how democratic debate should occur in a progressive organization that reflects the diversity of our society.

Dan Siegel
Interim Executive Director
Pacifica Foundation

Sunday, October 21, 2007

KPFA Local Station Board Election

An endorsement letter for the KPFA Local Station Board Election was posted in the Portside "Tidbits" post. This is my response

Moderator at Portside
Re KPFA Election Tidbit of 10/20/07

Since Portside Tidbits has waded into the KPFA election I feel compelled to write a response and to speak for alternate endorsements.

I consider myself to be a friend of Mary and Jon Fromer, having worked closely with Mary Fromer on SEIU related projects when I was a Local 707 union member (steward and vice president) and she a Local 707 staff field agent. However, IMO, she and Jon are backing the wrong horse in their endorsement of the so-called "Concerned Listeners" slate for KPFA. There are at least four "slates" in the elections including the other three: "The I-Team" (I for Independents), "People's Radio", and "KPFA Voices for Justice." Information about all 4 slates can be found at: as well as comparative information about what the repeat candidates said in previous elections. The official KPFA election website is at however, it is woefully behind in making the candidate statement information available.

For the nine open listener candidate seats, I'm endorsing the following candidates from three slates: Steve Conley, Joe Wanzala, Chandra Hauptman, Tracy Rosenberg, Gerald Sanders, Bob English, Dave Heller, Sureya Sayadi, and CC Campbell-Rock.

Listeners of KPFA should know that the "Concerned Listeners" slate is the "listener" group that most supports the entrenched staff group that is fighting to maintain the status quo at KPFA. The "Concerned Listeners" are indeed "concerned" that other listeners do not get to exercise any democratic control over KPFA management and station policies. All of the three other slates are independent of the staff controlled agenda.

Unfortunately, the way KPFA station politics works, the KPFA staff use their connections with their progressive guests (see the names on the list of "endorsers") to endorse those "listener" candidates who will not challenge the staff hegemony on the Local Station Board or in governance of KPFA. These endorsers know their friends on the staff and I must conclude, good people that they are, that they are simply acting in self interest to support who their staff friends tell them are worthy candidates. It is a sad day to see these progressive endorsers stoop to become just an example of cronyism on the left. They have now become progressives who are intervening in a listener election in order to not jeopardize their own air time on the station. I'm most embarrassed to see Kevin Danaher's name on the list as I thought he was more savvy than that.

A brief history of the issues: As one of the people intimately involved in the democratic evolution of KPFA and Pacifica from a self-selecting board of directors to a listener and staff elected board of directors I know where of I speak. When I was on the committee that designed the first election for the KPFA Local Board we debated the role of staff in station governance. On the one side people argued that staff should have no role in governance and that the listeners who paid for the station should have all seats on the governing boards as the local station and national director levels. I argued on the other side that staff presence, as designated seats in governance, and that staff ability to elect their own representatives was good for worker democracy as a model as well as essential to getting staff to "buy-in" to the new democratization of the nonprofit corporate structure. The side for staff inclusion won. This debate was subsequently reproduced in the debate over the new Pacifica Corporation bylaws and again the staff-inclusion model won out. Staff now have a guaranteed designated 25% of seats on the local station boards and on the national board of directors.

However, after witnessing what has happened since I argued for this percentage of staff representation I have had strong doubts about it. As a matter of principle for democratic worker involvement in governance, I still support it, but over and over again I have witnessed staff misuse their power to stifle any change from the status quo. Staff have blocked program committees from functioning to provide any evaluation or change in programs.

Staff have prevented any effective management oversight by listener representatives on the local board. They have only been able to do this with the collaboration of the listener representatives of the so-called "Concerned Listeners."

A recent example of how staff operate occurred with a policy motion regarding on-air premiums such as speeches. Frequently the station will air a speech from a well known progressive and then stop the speech before it ends and tell listeners if they want to hear the whole speech they can subscribe and receive the speech as a "premium" for their donation. Listener representatives on the KPFA Local Station Board presented a motion to that would set policy to guarantee that any speech or similar recording broadcast on the air -- but not aired in full -- and offered as a premium to listeners only if they subscribe, would be aired in full at a later date for those listeners who either couldn't afford the subscription amount required or who had already subscribed on other programs and did not want to have to donate for "premiums" in order to hear the whole of every such program used during the fund drives. The so-called "Concerned Listener" slate allied itself with staff to vote down this listener-friendly policy motion.

Thus, though staff have only 25% of seats (staff are not homogenous, but only a small amount of staff are listener-friendly) the staff sycophants of the "Concerned Listener" slate provides the voting support to pretty much rubber stamp the staff supported status quo on most issues.

As a minor note, Conn Hallinan is already on the KPFA Local Station Board as a member of the "Concerned Listeners" slate and now they are attempting to add his brother Matthew to the Local Board. This kind of "progressive" nepotism within the "Concerned Listeners" is just another example of human nature at work on the left. It should not be endorsed. Aren't there other candidates among KPFA's approximately 20,000 voters who could run on their slate without needing to have two brothers on the board? (With a smile I note that I would not take this position if siblings were on competing slates, so that this appearance of nepotism would not be present.)

Specifically, among the current "Concerned Listener's" slate I would council against reelecting incumbent Sherry Gendleman who is among the mostegregious pro-status quo rubber stampers on the Local Board.

I haven't yet decided on my final order of ranking the candidates I endorse and intend to vote for. Voters should know that your vote is ranked and counts most only for those at the top of your list so it is important that you rank your votes in order of most favored first for your vote to be meaningful in the way you intend.

A final note about the election: I am proud to have been in some measure instrumental at KPFA in helping to establish the proportional representation voting method, including IRV (instant runoff voting), for the election of the Pacifica local station boards and their directors. Votes for candidates are ranked according to preference and your first ranked preference will get your whole vote and your following preferences will get a piece of your vote if your top candidate receives an excess of votes needed to get elected, and if your top candidate doesn't receive enough votes to get elected then your whole vote goes to your next ranked candidate. This model provides that representation will be based on percentage of support rather than on 50.1% controlling the entire result. Thus any slate will get the percentage of support that it has in the election. For more information on proportional representation election models see the FairVote website at

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Doha Debates Dazzle

I recommend highly The Doha Debates. This is a debate forum presented by the Qatar Foundation:

Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development is a private, chartered, nonprofit organization, founded in 1995 by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar. Guided by the principle that a nation's greatest resource is the potential of its people, Qatar Foundation aims to develop that potential through a network of centers devoted to progressive education, research and community welfare.

The Doha Debates are an inspiring expression of the human spirit and the faith that discussion of controversial issues followed by a vote is the best way to decide issues. The debates are conducted in English.

The Doha Debates have a format similar to the traditional `Oxford Union' debate, where discussion centres on a "motion", usually a controversial statement. Two teams argue for and against the motion; the discussion is then thrown open to the audience, directed by the chairman, Tim Sebastian. At the end of the debate, a vote is taken and the chairman announces the result, declaring the motion to have been passed or rejected by "the House".

Among the challenging motions that have been considered are:

"This House believes it is time to talk to Al Qaeda."
"This House believes the pro-Israeli lobby has successfully stifled Western debate about Israel's actions."
"This House believes the face veil is a barrier to integration in the West."
"This House believes only a new dictator can end the violence in Iraq."
"This House believes that the international community must accept Hamas as a political partner."
"This House believes it is time for the Arab League to disband."
"This House believes that oil has been more of a curse than a blessing for the Middle East."
"This House believes that Arab women should have full equality with men."

As you can see, arguing these motions from the heart of the Middle East is quite an inspiring endeavor.

The Doha Debates are an amazing educational forum that works on many levels. First, the debates educate in the process of how to engage in pointed discussion over sensitive questions without resorting to fighting. Second, the Debates provide the informative content of diverse views that are seldom heard together in the same venue. Then the vote taken at the end of the debate is itself an educational tool for teaching the fundamentals of democracy and trusting in the wisdom of "the House" to reach the best conclusion. This is a subtle and profound education.

And as if that were not enough, in addition to the education of the participants, an equally important and profound education is given to the viewers in the West to observe how the diverse audience of "the House," composed of people primarily from the many Arab states, engage wholeheartedly in the debates and their voting conclusions. The Debates make it clear that the participants are not "aliens" or radically different human beings, but are simply people with the same hopes and aspirations of people everywhere. In other words, the Debates provide insight into the views of educated bilingual Arabs and shows that those views are as diverse and reasonable as the views of educated peoples everywhere.

I must admit that of the 20 debates presented in their video formats, when I voted at home I was in the majority of 19 of the debates. So I feel pretty in tune with the audience there. I was in the minority on the motion "This House believes that the Middle East road Map for peace is dead". I won't say why I decided as I did, or whether the motion passed or was rejected, because part of the fun of watching the Debates is to hear and consider them and to vote along with the House.

If you want to learn something about how the people of the Middle East think without the filter of US propaganda in the US media, please watch the Doha Debates.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Non-sense of the Senate: It's Iraq, Stupid, Not Iran

Fed up with the Democrats who voted for the Kyl-Liberman Amendment? Wondering what the purpose of the non-Sense of the Senate amendment was?

Well, the purpose of the amendment was not really about Iran. It is about continuing the war in Iraq based on the lies of the Bush administration, now officially adopted by the Democrats, about Iran. After all justifications for staying the course in Iraq have proven empty, by now labeling Iran a terrorist organization (weird, huh?) the Democrats join with the Republicans to provide next justification for the continuation of the war in Iraq.

The non-Sense Amendment exposes the underlying structure of the duopoly, the two-party dictatorship, that rules the USA today.

Only Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel are outside the political pack of this duopoly mindset. It is up to the regular grass roots Democrats to face this uncomfortable and inconvenient truth.

Yes, the Kyl-Liberman Amendment was modified so the "military instruments" sections were removed from the amendment. So what? The whole amendment is false, and becomes the prelude to another amendment that does include military instruments. And yes it is a provcation against Iran but that is distraction only and not the real purpose at this time.

The real point is that is is an inflamatory escalation of the war in Iraq, not an amendment to end or even cool down the war. It is adopted to justify remaining in Iraq as long as they, both Democrats and Republicans, can sell the falsehood of "terrorist" Iran being there.

The amendment is really for domestic consumption and tells the people of the US that Iran is attacking Iraq, so we have to stay the course in Iraq to protect Iraq from Iran. This has been the Liberman mantra all along.

What about Hillary Clinton supporting it? This amendment contains exactly the same pack of lies that Clinton believed from Bush in the beginning of Iraq. Now she is "believing" them for Iran all over again. Or is she? As I see it she is a direct participant in the plan, not a dupe.

From the text of the version that seems to have been adopted:

The amendment endorses Gen Betrayus' false testimony to Congress (as bad as Powell's lies to the UN) claiming there is evidence that Iran is somehow sending weapons to Iraq. It is the USA that is sending most weapons, and Saudi Arabia that is sending weapons, Not Iran.

The amendment endorses Ambassador Crockers corkers of lies too. Plus all the other lies about so-called "evidence" of Iranian interference.

Not one argument of the 6-pages of introduction used in the bill to support the amendment is truthful or accurate. It is all opinion and supposition.

Then after six pages of lies we get to the resolution itslef on page 7. The Sense of the Senate says:

#1: That Iran poses a threat to Iraq (false) and that the US will keep a military presence in Iraq to counter Iran's influence. (That is prolonged war, not ending the war.)

#2: Says it is a critical national interest of the US to prevent Iran from turning the Shia Militias into a "Hezbollah-like force". (That is false. First, we don't have a national interset, critical or otherwise in Iraq. Second, Iran can't "turn" Iraqis into any thing. The Iraqi Shia militias think for themselves and don't all agree with each other. Third, Hezbollah is a nationalist defense force with representatives in parliament. They are not a terrorist organization like the US claims. Neither Hezbollah nor Iran has invaded and occupied anyone. The US has.)

#3 and #4 which were the worst are crossed out.

#5 says the US should designat Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp "a foreign terrorist organization". (What a joke. That has absolutely no basis in fact or evidence. That's like saying the US Marines are a terrorist organization....opps, I guess that's a bad analogy because the US Marines are a terrorist organization. It's like saying the National Guard is a terrorist organization. The REvolutionary Guards have not invaded and occupied anyone nor engaged in any terroriat activites.)

#6 Says the US treasury should implement sanctions consistent wtih these findings. (only the findings are all false.)


With this statement of the non-sense of the Senate, the leaders of the Senate, including Clinton and the majority of the Democrats siding with the Repubicans, are leading Congress right where they want to lead us: continued war in Iraq.

Why? Because this is right where the plutocracy wants them to lead. Sorry to have to be the one to inform you, but we live in a Fascism-lite nation that controls both parties through a two-party dictatorship run by a plutocracy that uses the two parties as a shell game to keep the voters confused.

Check out the Political Compass link (thanks to GreenSooner for posting it) to the picture of political reality. This is a great tool to see what the two-party dictatorship is all about.

The picture of nearly all the candidates in the upper right quadrant is exactly what I mean when I say we have a two-party dictatorship that allows for a small range of argument between the two wings of the "business as usual party" about where to stand in their quadrant.

Only Kucinich and Gravel stand outside this duopoly-certified pack of candidates in another quadrant of political reality. Kucinich's not-for-profit Health Care plan compared to Clinton's for-profit mandatory Health Insurance plan, is the perfect example of the difference in political outlook of the two quadrants of political perspective. And we see how the candidacies of Kucinich and Gravel are treated by the powers-that-be behind and supporting the pack.

I believe Kucinich and Gravel stand with the majority of the people, but that that majority is so dispirited and alienated that they won't look up from being entangled in the weeds of confusion caused by the fake opposition between the two parties.

This Political Compass grid also shows that the elections in Iran are about equal to the elections in the USA as far as giving the voters a real choice between candidates. In Iran the ruling council vetts and chooses the candidates, and in the USA the ruling elite do the same.

The two-party sham works for both parties. The Republican Party does not live up to the Republican PR about small government, no foreign regime change or entanglements, free trade, etc, any more than the Democrats live up to their PR. The Republicans don't deliver on anti-abortion any better than the Democrats deliver on anti-war. But the two parties use their PR organs to divide up the voters, and then the leadership of the two parties vote to keep the plutocrats in power. The two wings only differ on the minor tactics of how to accomplish their common strategy of keeping the rich in control.

For example, the question "should we drill in ANWAR or not?" is jsut a "minor tactic" -- a bump in the road -- to the people who own America. The Republicans say "sure we should drill and get profit everywhere we can." The Democrats say "if you drill in certain places then the people will grumble and maybe become too socialist and nationalize the oil industry, so you have to give them some environmental protections to keep them pacified." That becomes the big shell game that keeps the voters occupied and too confused to see who is making the real decisions and collecting the profits.

For another example, the Democratic Leadership always has been in favor of the War in Iraq and still is, but because the grass roots are not, the Leadership had to shift its PR statements to oppose the war. But the Democratic leadership doesn't really want to end the war and the Kyl-Liberman Amendment is an example of that truth. The Democrats want to "win" the war in Iraq as much as Bush does, so they argue over strategy, such as the bogus Biden-Brownback-Boxer amendment, rather than just shuting down the government until the troops are withdrawn. The Democrats plan is to win the election in 2008 so they can be the party that won the war, not the party that ended the war.

The truth, that is, the Big Con, that this amendment exposes yet once again, is that the majority of Democrats in the Senate are Republican-lite. Like Bill Clinton said, "I hope you're all aware we're all Eisenhower Republicans."

Now this amendment on Iran becomes the vehicle that Democrats can distract the voters from the Democratic refusal to stop the Iraq war. Now the Democrats can say "we approve of the war on Iran even though we were lied to by Bush on Iraq." Of course they are supporting this amendment by the same lies now about Iran, but that doesn't matter in the long run. Why. Because the voters live in the United States of Amnesia well known to the likes of Goering, Hitler, Schwartzenegger, and Bush where USA Fascism-lite is as simple as the alphabet:

A. "Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."
- Hermann Goering, Luftwaffe Commander, From his cell at Nuremberg Trials 1946
- from Nuremberg Diary by G M Gilbert (Signet, New York, 1947)

B. "The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material offered. In this way the result is weakened and in the end entirely cancelled out."~ Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, chapter six.

C. “People need somebody to watch over them. . . . Ninety-five percent of the people in the world need to be told what to do and how to behave.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger from a 1990 profile in U.S. News and World Report

D. "See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda."
~ George W Bush, 5/24/05

The majority of Democrats, the ones voting for the amendment, are playing from this same play book. They know exactly what they are doing to continue the war in Iraq, which is the real purpose of the Kyl-Liberman amendment.

[This blog was cross posted at Daily Kos]

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ahmadinejad Smokes Charlie Rose

President Ahmadinejad was interviewed by Charlie Rose last night and chewed up Rose as bad as he chewed up Mike Wallace previously.

Its hilarious that "journalists" like Rose and Wallace act so differently with a president they don't like than the fawning interviews they do with politicians they like.

Rose thought he could get at Ahmadinejad with pointed questions, but Ahmadinejad was able to point out the fallacies in the assumptions behind virtually every one of Rose's barbs.

I was laughing uproariously to see Rose so befuddled.

For a limited time the video is available at Charlie Rose's website.

It clearly shows that the US spokespeople like the President of Columbia and Rose don't treat Ahmadinejad fairly.

For example Rose gives an introduction that says Ahmadinejad avoids questions and then he shows two clips that prove him wrong where Ahmadinejad is responding appropriately, not avoiding questions.

Ahmadinejad calls for the eradication of all nuclear weapons and has rejected nuclear weapons as useless and outmoded in the today's real world, and points out that the USA won't allow international inspection of USA nuclear weapons facilities while Iran does allow IAEA nuclear inspections. Do you disagree?

Ahmadinejad says that Iraq should be allowed to govern its own affairs and that the US should not interfere. He says that after Saddam's fall that the US should have had a plan to withdraw immediately. Do you disagree?

Rose holds up a newspaper that shows his photo and says "THE EVIL HAS LANDED". What a hoot. Ahmadinejad says, "We want to be friends with the United States." He says "the authorities here are over sensitive." Do you disagree with that?

Rose presents the NY Times as if it is gospel truth. Do you agree with that?

Ahmadinejad asks Rose if the entire West is supportive of the Zionist regime. He says the West does not deal with the plight of the Palestinians. He says the American people are sensitive about how the Palestinians are being treated but the US politicians are not responding to the terror that the Palestinians are living under. Do you disagree?

Rose doesn't know how to deal with a man who wants to be active in a dialogue rather than accept the premise that he should be a passive victim in an interview.

Rose asks "Why don't you agree with your Arab brothers" as if he thinks Ahmadinejad is Arab not Persian.

Ahmadinejad says that he will listen to what the Palestinians want for peace and asks if the US is able to do that? Don't you agree?

I don't agree with every thing Ahmadinejad does or says, but in this interview Rose presents US ideology as innocent questions and Ahmadinejad responds with finesse and doesn't get caught up in the premises of Rose's ideology.

Rose asks if Iran can have friendly conversations with the US and Ahmadinejad asks Rose to ask the US politicians why they backed Saddam's invasion of Iran, and why today they are backing the incursions and attempts to destabilize Iran.

Rose says Iran has supported terrorist organizations, and Ahmadinejad asked which terrorist organization? Rose says, "In the definition of the US Hezbollah." Ahmadinejad says, "Who started terrorism in Afghanistan?" pointing to US intelligence behind al Queda. Ahmadinejad then points out correctly that Hezbollah is a nationalist defense organization and is not doing anything outside of Lebanon or exporting terrorism to anybody. That it was Israel that invaded Lebanon and bombed Beirut.

Rose says, "Israel withdrew from Lebanon" as if that somehow makes everything that they did in their attack on Lebanon was made moot by their retreat. Rose is transparently illogical.

Rose says that Iran can avoid santions if it takes the offer from Russia. Ahmadinejad says "please pay attention to this point. If you were in our place what would you do." He says that Iran had nuclear agreements with five countries including Candada and France but they unilaterally and illegally withdrew from those contracts. So why should Iran be dependent on other countries who can cut their contracts? He has the point.

The Biden-Brownback- Boxer Amendment is Baloney

Yesterday I received an action alert from Senator Barbara Boxer:

Dear Gregory,

After nearly five years of a painful war in Iraq, there aren't any good solutions. President Bush has refused to do the tough diplomatic and political work required to end the war, putting everything on the shoulders of our military, and the Republicans in Congress have been with him every step of the way.

Make no mistake -- this is now a Republican war and the Republicans have walked away from every effort to responsibly end it.

Everyone agrees there must be a political solution. The Biden-Brownback- Boxer amendment pushes to the forefront a political solution in Iraq where each region would be given significant control over its own laws and administration. The Senate is scheduled to vote on this Biden-Brownback-Boxer amendment as early as Tuesday morning, and I need your help to encourage my Senate colleagues to support it.

I love Barbara. She is one of the greatest Senators in Congress. But this call to action is a little silly as she wants to blame the Republians only and doesn't acknowledge that since the 2006 election this is now the Democrat's war as they are the majority in Congress. There is a fundamental detachment from reality by the Democrats in Congress if they think that they can convince the American Public that this is not a Democratic Congressional war.

So, with the Biden-Brownback-Boxer amendment she is dead wrong. Here's my response.
Hon. Barbara Boxer,

I love you Barbara, but this amendment is wrong. The Congress of the USA is not in a position to tell Iraqis what to do -- even if it is the best thing to do.

Congress should make no law regarding the sovereignty of another nation.

Please, just leave Iraq now. Please, filibuster every single bill before the Senate until we start leaving. Shut down the government from doing a single piece of business until the order is given to remove ALL the troops, even the troops in the giant military bases in the desert.

Last night I heard a talk from a civilian attorney who went to Iraq to defend a soldier in a court martial trial who was suffering from PTSD yet had been sent back for another tour and got himself into trouble when he had discharged his weapon on base. Apparently there is enough fragging going on now in Iraq that it is reminding the Brass a little too much of Vietnam, so they wanted to make an example of this poor soldier who had nothing even remotely to do with fragging and who should never have been sent back for another tour, but who was an easy target for the officers to take out their frustration on.

The attorney told of the surreal experience of going to a giant military base in the desert built from the ground up that looks like it could be a town in the California desert near Barstow.

The base has streets with curbs, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway, Baskin-Robbins, swimming pools (outdoor and indoor), a stadium (used at night because it is too hot in the day), etc. It's like a movie set of a little USA town plopped down in Iraq. But a movie more like "The Confederate States of America" since all the service "help" are brown faces from the Philippines or India. There is not an Iraqi to be seen. The US Military is simply practicing serfdom-racism under the heading of "maintaining security."

This is exactly what is wrong with the "occupation." The Iraqis are watching not only foreign troops come in as invaders, but they see foreign workers being imported in to get the benefits of occupation service jobs. When the US invaded and occupied Japan not a single contract went to US companies. The Japanese companies got the contracts and the Japanese people got the jobs. That was how the US made friends with the people they were occupying.

The US military, the President, and Congress, and yes, even my hero Barbara Boxer and virtually all of Democrats in the Senate and way too many Democrats in the House, just don't get it that the US can't come in and dictate to the Iraqis how they will govern themselves, all the while not giving them the financial and security benefits of occupation, and also building US military bases as permanent US towns dotting Iraq.

What part of that failed picture don't they see?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Senate Wastes Taxpayers' Time and Money "Condemning" Free Speech.

Here's my letter signing the petition against the Senate's condemnation of the ad.

Thank you Senator Barbara Boxer for standing up for freedom. And shame on you Senator Diane Feinstein, you have once again shown that you are a Republican posing as a Democrat.

The Cornyn Amendment is an amazing piece of legislation that shames the US Senate on several levels. First it is an unconstitutional and unwarranted attack on the people's First Amendmnent right to criticize government officials. Second, it was a colossal waste of time to vote on a newspaper ad while our troops are dying in combat! Third, the ad was true. Patreaus is a betrayer of the nation, the people, and his uniform when he testifies before Congress with such lies. His own boss, Admiral Fallon said the same thing, only in much more colorful and military language, calling him an "*ss-kisser" and a "chickens**t".

You too can sign the petition.

Here's a fun blog about this at Fire Dog Lake.

Here's who voted and how.