Friday, October 24, 2008

Thanksgiving in the Kitchen

"Trina, I'm stuck with Thanksgiving, my husband's looking for a job, what am I going to do?"

That's an e-mail that came in this week. The first thing, "Rina" (I'm naming her that and choosing that name because I've been in her shoes before -- many times), is you're not going to panic. Forget panic.

First off, it's not going to help. Second off, you're early enough that this can be pulled off.

We've exchanged e-mails daily since Tuesday and, in case anyone else is in a situation similar to Rina, I'm writing about this.

Ham not turkey? That was Rina's first question.

No. Turkey. Turkey will be 49 cents a pound or lower. You may have to buy $20.00 of groceries to get that price, but immediately after Halloween, turkeys will go on sale in most areas. You will not see a ham for 49 cents a pound.

To get that $20 plus worth of groceries, Rina's put ten dollars in an envelope for Thanksgiving today and will do so next Friday and the Friday after.

So here's the basic meal planned.

1) Turkey
2) Dressing
3) Black eyed peas
4) Mashed potatoes
5) Gravy
6) Cranberry sauce
7) Rolls
8) Celery, cream cheese

You're going to buy the turkey as soon as it's on sale if you're facing Rina's economic situation. You'll put it in the freezer. Dressing is 2 boxes plus two stalks of celery. You'll slice both stalks and, in a large pan, sautee it in butter. Then you'll add the water to bring to a boil (enough for two boxes) along with the butter and follow directions on box.

Gravy? Turkey giblets. They'll be in the package in the turkey cavity. You'll grab the neck bone and giblets, put them in a medium size pan with water and bring to a boil. Allow to cool, remove the neck and giblets. Slice meat from the neck and slice the giblets. Toss these back in the pan with the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, add a half stick of butter, stir, add flour. The flour is going to be a tablespoon at a time. You will also add a half cup of milk with the first tablespoon. On the low heat, you stir and taste. If the gravy (which will be white) tastes fine, just go with the one tablespoon of flour. If not, add another. Add no more than three and if you add three you may need to cut it with more milk. In addition to flour, you can salt and pepper as well.

The mashed potatoes you can either peel a half-pound of potatoes, bring to a boil, simmer for ten to fifteen minutes, drain water, mash potatoes, add milk, butter, salt and pepper. Or you can use a mix.

Black eyed peas? A bag of dried black eyed peas that you will cook according to direction. After you've cooked them, you will drain off all the water. You will then place them in a container in the fridge (you can store for up to two days ahead of time). When it it time to serve them, heat them in the mircowave. If you have bacon on hand, you can cook a strip (or two), crumble it up and put it in the dish with the black eyed peas. When heating (either on the stovetop or in the microwave), you will need to add water. Less for the microwave.

Rolls go on sale early but they do not keep well. I think one week is about as far as you can push rolls even kept in the fridge. I could be wrong and they could be fine much longer. Rina is expecting six adults (plus herself and her husband) and several children. So two packages of rolls is the minimum.

Let's talk celery snacks. You're going to cut the stalks up (if they're long, into two or three sections), fill the center with cream cheese, sprinkle with paprika and top with slice olives (black or green). Now you're not using the end of the stalks or the leafy tops. But you are not discarding them.

The turkey will be cooked in the oven according to the details on the bag. However, you will put the celery bits around the base of the turkey to allow for a seasoning. Before you place the bird in the oven, you will apply a light coat of butter.

Cranberry sauce will be canned.

Desserts? That's what company can bring. Rina wrote that she always burns pies so we decided why even try? Let someone else bring it. That's an important point, you do not have to cook and provide everything.

You can ask that guests bring a dessert and you can encourage them to bring a vegetable as well.

Now if one pumpkin pie is brought, as far as I'm concerned, this is all you need for a good Thanksgiving. Most people will be tightening their belts this holiday season. You've covered all the basics.

I would encourage you to make tea and make a pitcher of sweetened and unsweetened. Everyone can have tea (and water if they don't want tea). No Cokes, no energy drinks.

As we worked on the above all week, Rina realized she could pull this off and had more than enough time to plan and prepare. She also wanted a salad.

We decided a green leaf lettuce (Boston, Romaine) with white onions sliced in circles, olives (not used for the celery snacks) and one can of garbonzo beans (drained).

If you start planning now, you'll find somethings you can buy right now (such as instant potatoes or dressing mix). That will let you get started and begin the process. By purchasing a little at a time, it won't be as big an expense the week of Thanksgiving.

If you missed it, Circuit City is considering closing 150 stores. And, as C.I. and I have pointed out in Hilda's Mix, there will be no stimulus checks before the holiday shopping (or before the new year). I need to especially note two posts by Ruth: "Senator Biden needs to stop lying" and "There will be no second stimulus check this year." I asked Ruth about the reaction to the posts and she said it was similar to what I get: regular readers grasp the reality while drive-bys insist that she's wrong. I really am sick of those e-mails here, by the way. We've discussed the economy for months now and what's happening (and where we're headed) is not a surprise to regular readers and vistors to my 'kitchen'. But there are some people in serious denial. You need to grasp it's not just England that's in a recession, it's the US as well.

And it's only going to get worse because there will be no huge holiday bump as a result of sales. There's no big shopping season and to have big sales the retailers will have to slash prices big.

I'm supporting Ralph Nader and this is from his campaign:

Pass It On: Obama Brand Democracy
Posted by Ashley Sanders on Friday, October 24, 2008 at 11:03:00 PM
Ralph Nader has consistently warned about the dangers of mixing money and politics. His criticisms are particularly pointed for Obama and McCain, who have accepted millions from corporations and lobbyists alike. But the collusion between politics is more dangerous and more expansive than anyone could have imagined, and this year’s multi-billion dollar election looks more like an auction where politicians are bought and sold than a democracy. Perhaps the most insidious aspect of this financial free-for-all, however, is how much politics, media, and big business stand to gain from each other and how much the average voter stands to lose. As Obama moves to become the world’s biggest brand, brand democracy enters its final phase—what could be rightly called the political-industrial complex, where everyone benefits but the voters.
Ashley SandersThe Nader Team

Today’s Pass It On article was written by Amy Goodman and appears on You can read the original article here.

While I'm not voting for McCain -Palin, I can take pride in the speech Governor Sarah Palin gave Tuesday. C.I. included a lengthy excerpt of it in yesterday's snapshot which I wanted to share here:

A couple of people I would like you to meet, a couple of my kids, three of them who are here, we have Willow and Piper and Trig Palin. So glad to have them on the trail with me. Alright, Nevada. Now John McCain and I, we take your state motto so seriously: "All for country." And let's take a moment to honor the Americans in this crowd who have put our country first those of you who have served in the past as veterans or you're serving today, if you could raise your hands, let us honor you guys, we thank you so much. Thank you. We do thank you for your service and for your sacrifice. We owe you. Thank you, sir. Thank you.
Okay, so we are here near UNLV's campus. The home of the Runnin' Rebels. It's great to be here as part of a team that has a kinship with them. And John and I, though we don't call ourselves the Runnin' Rebels, we consider ourselves a team of mavericks and we do share that unique spirit though and I hope that we can count on you to put the maverick of the Senate in the White House November 4th. We need your vote, Nevada. Are you ready to help carry your state to victory? Are you ready to make John McCain the next president of the United States of America? Are you ready to send us to Washington to shake things up? Thank you.
And today I have another question that is especially for the women in this audience and all across our great country, all you women, yes: "Are you ready to break the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America?"
Now it is such an honor for me today to have up here on stage some very independent, very courageous, very accomplished women and I am so honored to get to introduce you to these women who have broken a few glass ceilings of their own and I ask you gals to stand up here as I introduce you. First, Prameela Bartholomeusz, a small business owner and a member of the Democratic National Platform Committee. She's with us today. Thank you. It is my honor to have with us also Linda Klinge, the former Oregon president and now vice president of the National Organization of Women. She's with us here today! And Shelley Mandell, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization of Women, here with us today! And Lynn Rothschild also. You may have seen her on television a whole lot lately. She is a member of the Democratic Platform Committee. She is with us here today. And Elaine Lafferty, a former editor in chief of Ms. magazine. They are here today to endorse the McCain-Palin campaign. We're honored. We are proud. And I thank them for their confidence, for their support, especially for their courage. Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you.
Our opponents think that they have the women's vote all locked up which is a little presumptuous. Little presumptuous since only our side has a woman on the ticket. So. We won't ignore any of the men in the audience but again this is for the women in the audience here. When it came time for choosing, somehow Barack Obama just couldn't bring himself to pick the woman who got 18 million votes in his primary. And that seems to be too familiar a story, isn't it? That, uh, how it is for so many American women that the qualifications are there but for some reason the promotion never comes. There is always some long explanation for why they got passed over or some unseen barrier, some excuse and that's just one of the things that I so admire about John McCain: He is not someone who makes excuses.
You've got to ask yourself why wasn't Senator Hillary Clinton even vetted by the Obama campaign? Why did it take 24 years, an entire generation, from the time Geraldine Ferraro made her pioneering bid until the next time that a woman was asked to join a national ticket. In the long history of our country, 74 people have held the position of president or vice president and why have the major parties given America only two chances to even consider a woman for either office? 88 years after women gained the right to vote and 83 years after Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming became the first woman governor in our great nation and 60 years after Margaret Chase Smith was elected to the Senate this glass ceiling it -- it is still there. But it's about time that we shattered that glass ceiling once and for all. See -- see there is a difference, there is a difference between what Barack Obama says and what he does and his primary opponent wasn't the first one to notice this.
Out on the stump he talks a good game about equal pay for equal work but, according to the Senate payroll records, women on his own staff get just 83 cents for every dollar that the men get. That's 9,000 dollars less every year that he pays the guys. And you gotta ask what is with that? Does he think that the women aren't working as hard? Does he think that they are 17 percent less productive? And Barack Obama can't say that this is just the way that its always been done around the Capitol because I know one senator who actually does pay women equal wages for equal work: Senator John McCain.
See this is just another reason why American women -- Democrat, Republican, independent -- should not let Barack Obama just take their votes for granted. And let me give you a few more reasons starting with his plan to, as he puts it, spread the wealth around. That is how our opponent defended his so-called tax cut to Joe the plumber the other day. Or Wendy the plumber's daughter, there you go. Now that spreading the wealth around really is just a scheme for income distribution. Joe didn't buy it. Joe the plumber, he would have none of that. He called him on it. In fact, he said that he sure thought that sounded like socialism. Joe the plumber.
And the rest of us shouldn't buy it either -- especially the millions of women in America who own small businesses. Women start as many new businesses as men start and they are entrepreneurs, trying to make a better life for themselves and for their families. And trying to make payroll for their employees. They're women, just like Irma Aguirre is her name. She owns a restaurant close by. She dreamed for years of owning her own restaurant and she made it just a year ago. Irma, she owns the La Madonna Mexican Restaurant, right here in Las Vegas. She employs 20 people. And she's exactly the kind of small business owner whose taxes would go way up under the Obama tax plan. And the health care fines and the mandates that our opponent would impose aren't gonna help her much either. They're gonna force her to let employees go if they are too high and they could even put her out of business. And our opponents thinks he's got problems with Joe the plumber? Well he should talk to Irma the restaurant owner because she's voting for John McCain too.
The working women of this country -- those who work inside the home and outside of the home -- they're overlooked by politicians in Washington and Barack Obama hasn't given us a single reason to believe that he would be any better. A company's balance sheet tallies up just the same whether it's a man who owns the business or a woman. And women want the same opportunities as men. And they're entitled to the same rewards. See, the point here, the point here is that women would suffer just as much from the massive tax increase that Senator Obama proposes. And, you know, there are a lot of families in this country with no father present. And when we make laws in Washington, those laws need to understand that -- they need to serve the mothers who are taking care of their families.
I've been very, very blessed to have a husband who's supported me along the way. He's a great dad who doesn't disappear at bath time or run from diaper duty and I appreciate that. But a lot of women have it much, much harder than I've had it. And they need child care -- which today can cost some families a third of their household budget. And they need reforms in labor laws that allow greater flexibility in the workplace, including more telecommuting. And they need a tax code that doesn't penalize working families. They need health care that the family can take with them when they move or change jobs. And they need better choices in retirement plans and worker retraining when things get tough. Women also need equal pay for equal work -- and not just be a 'talking point'.
Really, it is that simple. It's a matter of fundamental fairness -- fairness in this country. And to make all this happen, working mothers need an advocate and they will have one when this working mother is working for all of you in the White House.
When I was a kid, Congress passed a law that's come to be known as Title IX. And that law allowed millions of girls to play sports. And over time -- and over time, that opened more than just the doors to the gymnasium. Along with other reforms, Title IX helped us to see ourselves and our futures a different way. Women of my generation were allowed finally to make more of our own choices with education and with career, and I have never forgotten that we owe that opportunity to women, to feminists, who came before us. We were allowed to be participants instead of just spectators on the achievements of others. And I was lucky to have a lot of support at home too. Now among the many things I owe my parents is one simple lesson, and that was this is America and every woman can walk through every door of opportunity. The belief in equal opportunity is not just the cause of feminists, it's the creed of our country: equal opportunity.
And if I'm given the honor of serving you in the White House, I intend to advance that creed in our own nation and beyond because, across the world, there are still places where women are subjugated and persecuted as they were in Afghanistan, places where they're bullied and brutalized and murdered in honor killings, places where women are sold like commodities in the nightmare world of the sex trade, and places where baby girls are unwelcome as a matter of state policy and their mothers are forced to have abortions. Now no one person, no one leader, can bring an end to all of those ills, to all of the injustices inflicted upon women, but I can promise you this, if I am elected, these women, too, will have an advocate and a defender in the 47th vice president of the United States.
John McCain and I will be strong advocates for women's rights right here in the United States and around the world and we will confront the challenges that our country faces, challenges that concern all Americans.

Oklahoma community members are supporting the McCain -Palin ticket and I support their decision. My brother is planning to vote for the ticket as well. He is more comfortable with that not because he doesn't support Ralph Nader but because he is strongly opposed to Barack (due to the Bill Ayers issue -- my brother is a police officer). Regardless of whom you're voting for or why, I hope you too can take pride in the speech Governor Palin gave and the fact that as often as she is trashed and slimed, she keeps fighting.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Friday, October 24, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, concerns rise regarding Iraqi Christians, the "Awakening" members forgotten?, and more.

Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post) observes, "But the violence diminished with the creation of 'Awakening' groups, U.S.-paid patrols of mostly Sunni fighters who broke with insurgents and allied with U.S. forces." 'Awakening' members are Sunni thugs put on the US payroll in order to stop the attacks on the US. It's the "fork over your lunch money" strategy playground 'strategy' as US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and Gen David Petraeus made clear in their testimonies to Congress in April. For some US currency, the attacks would stop and the US would step out of the way and let the "Awakening" take over various regions providing 'security' which struck many residents as a reign of terror. October 1st, the puppet government in Iraq was supposed to take over nearly half the "Awakening" members (but even that portion remains on the US payroll). Nouri al-Maliki has never trusted the "Awakenings" and has staffed his ministries with his own Shi'ite thugs. Petraeus has repeatedly praised the "Awakenings" as providing security to Iraq. Where do things stand now? Earlier in the week, Surdarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) reported on the issue and noted it "is already touching off new conflicts that could deepen without U.S. military backing for the movement. They have stripped traditional tribal leaders of influence. They have carved up Sunni areas into fiefdoms, imposing their views on law and society and weakening the authority of the Shiite-led central government. Divisions are emerging among the new breed of tribal leaders, even as they are challenging established Sunni religious parties for political dominance." The "Awakening" presence was felt last year after repeated kick start attempts (always hailed as a 'turned corner' by the press) going back to 2005. The pay-offs were one aspect of the counter-insurgency strategies being deployed against Iraqis. Barack Obama, Democratic presidential nominee, supports counter-insurgency and has the bulk of those responsible for the assault on Iraqis on his advisory board (Sarah Sewell, Samantha Power, et al). So it's no surprise that Time quotes him insisting, "The Sunni awakening changed the dynamic in Iraq fundamentally. It could not have occured unless there were some contacts and intermediaries to peel off those who are tribal leaders, regional leaders, Sunni nationalists, from a more radical messianic brand of insurgency." [Note: Time is down for "scheduled maintenance session" -- that web address was given to me over the phone. If it does not work, Google the quote and you will find it.]

Tim King (Salem-News) observes: "At least half of them are being cut loose and Iraq is expected to take over the payments for a little more than half the program. Most members of this group believe they will not see any payments from their now country. Cutting off the payments to the Sons of Iraq is a colossal mistake. The checkpoints operated by the Sons of Iraq are exactly what has brought the peace to Iraq. Ending them is foolish, but we are doing it. These are mostly Sunni Muslims and they had a place in the Shiite government with the Sons of Iraq, but we are allowing one of the war's few success stories to end, and likely have not even begun to see the repercussions that are sure to come." The "Awakening" members fear they will be arrested or worse and on the issue of arrests,
Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reported Monday, "Police arrested three Sahwa members in Mustafa neighborhood in Baquba, according to arrest warrants." (Sahwa and Sons Of Iraq are other names for "Awakening" members.)

Meanwhile the crisis continues for Iraqi Christians.
Mark MacKinnon (Globe and Mail) speaks with Father Sabri al-Maqdessy who explains, "Christians have always been targeted by different groups in the Middle East because we are the only people without a tirbal system to protect us or that political power to give us security. The church is weak. The Vatican does not have tanks. . . . Everyone is leaving. If the situation continues the way it is for another 10 years, 20 at most, you won't see any Christians left here." Mission News Network via quotes Open Doors USA's president Carl Moeller, "I'm afraid it's actually getting worse. The Christian community continues to be terrorized by extremists and basically are being forced out of homes at gunpoint, children and elderly people being murdered. This is a real crisis. Not just a Christian crisis, but a real humanitarian crisis for the country of Iraq." UN High Comissioner for Refugees spokesperson Ron Redmond addressed the topic in Geneva today:

UNHCR is helping thousands of Iraqi Christians who have fled the northern city of Mosul over the past fortnight, most of them to villages elsewhere in Ninewa province but also about 400 who have crossed into Syria. It is still not clear who is behind the intimidation that caused them to flee. More than 2,200 families, or some 13,000 people, are estimated to have left Mosul by mid-week, mostly to safe areas to the north and east of the city. That is more than half of Mosul's Christian population. They have also fled to the neighboring governorates of Dahuk, Erbil and Kirkuk. Most have been taken in by other Christian families. The displacement now appears to be slowing, according to UNHCR staff in the region. UNHCR Iraq and its partners have delivered aid to at least 1,725 of the displaced families in about 20 ares of northern Iraq. In Syria, meanwhile, UNHCR Representative Laurens Jolles reports that many Christians from Mosul have been systematically targeted and no longer feel safe there. UNHCR will provide support for those Iraqis who seek refuge in neighborhing countries and we very much appreciate that Syria countinues to welcome refugees. Syria already hosts at least 1.2 million Iraqis.

This as
Assyrian International News Agency reports that Yonadam Kanna ("leader of the Assyrian Democratic Movement and member of Iraq's parliament") has called for the troops in Mosul to be pulled and new ones to be sent in, "We call for an exchange of the troops who failed to protect the Christians in their areas with new troops who are able to bring security to these areas." And in a new development, AINA reports, "The auxiliary bishop of the Chaldean Church of Babylon in Iraq, His eminence Shlemon Warduni, expressed support on Friday for the establishment of an administrative area for the minorities living in the Nineveh Plain. Speaking to the reporter of the webzine, the high ranking church leader made it clear his church has changed its stand on the administrative unit issue. . . . The Iraqi constitution allows for the establishment of local rule for minorities in areas where they have considerable numbers. The Assyrian Democratic Movement, the political party supported by an overwhelming majority of Assyrians from all church denominations during the last national elections, announced during a 2003 conference in Baghdad it endorses the idea of making the minority dense Nineveh Plain area into an administrative unit according to the Iraqi constitution. Since then, an increasing number of Assyrian representatives from the political and religious sphere have supported the plan."

In some of today's reported violence,
Reuters notes a Kut mortar attack that claimed the lives of 3 children (two more wounded). AndReuters notes 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead outside Tuz Khurmato and wounded two others.

Stopping for the public airwaves (and all listed can be streamed), in public radio news,
WBAI Monday features Judy Collins. Collins and Kenny White appear on Janet Coleman and David Dozer's Cat Radio Cafe along with playwright Shem Bitterman. The program airs Monday at 2:00 p.m. EST. Public television? NOW on PBS offers a report on the nursing crisis: "According to a government study, by the year 2020, there could be a nationwide shoratge of up to one million nurses, which could result in substandard treatment for hundreds of thousands of patients. Just as alarming, fewer nurses are choosing to teach the next generation of professionals, resulting in tens of thousands of applicants being turned away from the nation's nursing schools." NOW on PBS begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (check local listings) as does Washington Week which finds Gwen joined by journalists Shailagh Murray (Washington Post), Michael Viqueira (NBC) and David Shribman (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) and, for the child-at-heart, Gwen also provides two circus clowns on the panel.

Turning to the US race for president. Barack Obama is not a Socialist or a Communist (or a socialist or a communist). He is a Corporate War Hawk. But the confusion is understandable considering all the efforst to prop Baby Barry up throughout the Democratic Party primary by non-Democrats. It's the general election and Barack's just received his latest endorsement from a Socialist or a Communist: Howard Zinn. (Zinn is a Socialist.)
Watch him make an ass out of himself via the so-called "Real" News. Mickey Z (Dissident Voice) provides the takedown for that pathetic sort of cowardice: "This strategy of choosing an alleged 'lesser evil' because he/she might be influenced by some mythical 'popular movement' would be naive if put forth by a high school student. Professors [Noam] Chomsky and Zinn know better. If it's incremental change they want, why not encourage their many readers to vote for Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney? The classic (read: absurd) reply to that question is: 'Because Nader or McKinney can't win.' Of course they can't win if everyone who claims to agree with them inexplicably votes for Obama instead. Paging Alice: You're wanted down the ______ rabbit hole." And on the subject of Noam Chomsky, let's drop back to 2007 when Panhandle Media was far less concerned with propping up Weather Underground. This is Michael Alpert of ZNet (ZMag) speaking to Amy Goodman in April of 2007:

Michael Albert: One example was, Weatherman was a group that was engaged in activity at the time. It was part of SDS, not a part I was belonged to, but they wanted to recruit me. At a particular moment, I went into Noam's office, and I asked him about it, this recruitment effort by them and whether -- you know, how I should relate. Noam was loath to give people advice about what to do in their life or about strategy.

Amy Goodman: And explain what the Weathermen were.

Michael Albert: The Weathermen were a very -- they were the most militant, most violent wing of SDS. Their analysis was a bit peculiar. I don't think we need to go into details. But in any case, so I asked him about that, and he was very loath to do that, but in this particular case -- we were already pretty close, and he -- you know, he didn't want me to make an error, so he did make a suggestion. And he sort of said very quickly, he said, "They're wonderful people. They're great people. They're moved well. I mean, their motives are good. Some of them are going to die. Some of them are going to hurt others. They're going to have very little effect on the well-being of people around the world because of what they're doing." And in a phrase, right, he captured what was there, and his advice was important. I don't think it was a difinitive in my choice not to join, but it certainly would have been a big factor.

And there's actually a lot more to the above anecdote. (I know Michael, I've heard the anecdote repeately over the years in expanded form.) But Chomsky is warning Albert against the Weathermen. The Weathermen, Chomsky is arguing, is too dangerous. The Weathermen is the group that breaks off from SDS and will become Weather Underground. The Weathermen do the Days of Rage in Chicago (1969).

And let's do a book plug. Paul Street's
Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics came out last month and Street's one of the few on the left who has not embarrassed himself in 2008. And here's Street mentioning his book at ZNet: "It shows Obama and his marketers working effectively to create a false left impression among certain targeted voters. As I demonstrate, Obama posed as a left-leaning antiwar and social justice progressive, donning deceptive rebel's clothing in numerous speeches, town hall meetings, and television commericals through much of the primary campaign. He claimed falsely to be a dedicated opponent of American emprie, war and inequality, even going to the sickening point of telling Iowa voters that they could 'join the movement to stop the [Iraq] war' by Caucusing for him. For all his claims to be a nobel reformer 'above the fray' of America's plutocracy and 'ideological' politics, the real Obama excavated in my study is no special exception to -- and is in many ways an epitome of -- what the still-left Christopher Hitchens called (in his 1999 study of the Bill and Hillary Clinton phenomenon) 'the essence of American politics. This essence, when distilled,' Hitchens explained, 'consists of the manipulation of populism by elitism'." If you use the link to the article, you should check out the comments as well (Street's contributing to the comments). But to clarify something for this site: As repeatedly stated here, Barack is not a Socialist. However, as Ava and I noted -- addressing Leela's brave piece of writing:

First, thank you to Dee Dee for finding that post and e-mailing to ask that it be highlighted. Second, read what Leela's saying. We don't agree with her view of Democrats. We do, however, know where's she's coming from on that view. Her view is the sort of thing that can start a conversation. It may never bring feminists into one political party's tent (we don't think that should be a goal of the feminist movement short of a feminist party being started), but conversations can illuminate and increase our understandings.Leela is obviously upset (first hint, her title), so even though we disagree with her view of the Democratic Party (re: Socialism), we would have first registered that she was upset and then attempted to engage. That didn't really happen on the thread and we'll assume that was due to the anger/ill will her view caused others.But here's the reality: some people do see the Democratic Party as a Socialist Party. Some people see the Republican Party as an Evangelical Party. Neither belief is accurate but to understand each other, we need to understand where we are all coming from."

That is the reality of perceptions. (And of course alleged brainiac Rachel Maddow doesn't grasp that there is a difference between Socialism and Communism.) For this site, we are a left site and see no Socialism in Barack. But the right insisting Barack's a Socialist are not necessarily lying or even wrong. The terms are largely undefined in discussions today (again, allegedly educated Maddow -- from the center -- expressed on her bad MSNBC show this week that Socialism and Communism were the same thing). Leela is among the women blogging at
Citizen Girl, by the way. And the US has a Socialist in Congress, Senator Bernie Sanders. But -- as is usually the case -- 'helpers' and the 'shocked' obscure reality by referring to him as 'independent.' He is a Socialist openly and the refusal to apply that label goes a long way towards explaining how screwed up US politics are. Another sign of the sickness in the US is this country's Socialist Worker and crap like Ashley Smith's "Fighting for what we want" that wants to argue there's no difference on the wars between the McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden ticket (there isn't) but uses pejoratives for McCain-Palin ("moronic," "knuckle dragging") but not for Obama-Biden. It's not even-handed and it does imply -- by insulting only one side -- that one ticket is 'better.' There is no difference on the Iraq War between the tickets for the two major parties. One would assume an allegedly Socialist periodical would have no reason to take sides between two Corporatist candidates. There's a lot more honesty -- from their political perspective (right-wing) -- in Stanley Kurtz' most recent National Review piece: "In short, the New Party was a mid-1990s effort to build a 'progressive' coalition to the left of the Democratic party, uniting left-leaning baby boomers with minorities, relatively militant unionists, and 'idealistic' young people."

Moving over to political lies,
Mark Hosenball (Newsweek) underscores a big lie that passed with little attention, "'All the public reports suggested,' Obama said, that people shouted 'things like 'terrorist' and 'kill him'.' Making a death threat against a presidential candidate can be a crime. But even before Obama cited "reports" of the threats at the debate, the U.S. Secret Service had told media outlets, including NEWSWEEK, that it was unable to corroborate accounts of the 'kill him' remarks--and according to a law-enforcement official, who asked for anonymity when discussing a political matter, the Obama campaign knew as much. Now some officials are disgruntled that Obama gave added credence to the threat by mentioning it in front of 60 million viewers. At this point in the campaign, said one, candidates will 'say anything to make a particular point.'" [For more on that topic, see this snapshot from last week.]

On the subject of political lies, yes, people in the US do have the right not to vote. That is their decision and it can be a perfectly acceptable one despite the harping from certain quarters that insist "YOU MUST VOTE!".
Linda Averill (FSN via Information Clearing House) explains that position and also provides some history:

Outrageous rules, media censorship, private financing of campaigns, and sheer thuggery have marginalized political parties that compete with labor's fake friend, the Democratic Party. This includes even parties like the Greens, who simply want to reform capitalism.It's not people who vote socialist or Green who throw away their votes. The system does it! U.S. elections are "winner take all." If a socialist gets 20 percent of the vote, a Green gets 15 percent, and a Democrat gets 51 percent -- all votes go to the Democrat.Things weren't always so sewn up. At the start of the 20th century, socialists ran on explicitly pro-labor, anti-capitalist platforms. And they won seats -- more than 1,200 offices nationwide.To eliminate the threat this posed, the Democrats and Republicans launched a political witch-hunt. Socialist party offices were raided, pro-labor representatives were denied their seats, radicals were tossed in jail, and restrictive ballot laws were passed.

Averill closes by quoting Mother Jones: "I have never had a vote, and I have raised hell all over this country. You don't need a vote to raise hell! You need convictions and a voice!"

Those who wish to vote will have many choices to chose from (except for the state of Oklahoma whose restrictive laws allow voters to only pick the Democratic or Republican presidential ticket). Ther is the Green Party presidential candidate
Cynthia McKinney who will appear Saturday October 25 on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday. Cynthia's running mate is Rosa Clemente and Cynthia will be in Seattle:
The Washington State Power To The People Campaign has announced that Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney will be visiting Seattle on Sunday, October 26th and Monday, October 27th. Scheduled activities include:Sunday, October 26, 2008* 3pm - 7pm"Vote...Then What?From The Day After The Election Onward: Strategies for Community Organizing, Greening & Reconstruction"Umojafest Peace Center24th Ave & E Spring St, SeattleThe public is invited to attend.Cynthia McKinney will be speaking in support of grassroots and institutional solutions to violence and other issues plaguing urban communities nationwide. This event is hosted by the Umojafest Peace Center and the McKinney/Clemente 2008 Power To The People Campaign. The program will include hip-hop and spoken word performances, speakers from youth and community based organizations, and a showing of the award-winning film, American Blackout.Monday, October 27, 2008* 11am - 12:30pm"The Power of Student Movements: How to Use Your Campus as a Tool to Change the World!"Broadway Performance HallBroadway at Pine Street, SeattleThe public is invited.Ms. McKinney will address the growing concerns of students, the need for student leadership, and how students can organize on campus to engage in and impact social justice struggles and make meaningful contributions to communities outside school. This event will be hosted by the Black Student Union of Seattle Central Community College.

The Republican presidential candidate is John McCain, Sarah Palin is his running mate.
McCain - Palin '08 notes:

"And as governor, I've succeeded in securing additional funding and assistance for students with special needs. By 2011, I will have tripled the funding available to these students." -- Governor Sarah Palin, 10/24/08
Governor Palin Has A Proven Record Of Commitment To Special Needs Children: Governor Palin Has Increased Funding For Special Needs Education. Overall funding for Special Needs students has increased every year since Sarah Palin entered office, from $219 million in 2007 to a projected $276 million in 2009. Breakdown below:
FY07: $219,358,041
FY08: $220,420,268
FY09: $275,827,909
On March 28, 2008, Governor Palin Signed Legislation That Will Nearly Triple
Per-Pupil Funding Over Three Years For Special Needs Students With High-
Cost Requirements. Per-pupil breakdown below:
FY08: $26,900
FY09: $49,320
FY10: $61,380
FY11: $73,840
Governor Palin Has Directed State Funds To Other Special Needs Programs.
This funding includes $500,000 for diagnostic services for autistic children and $250,000 for training in early autism intervention in her FY2009 budget. The Executive Director Of The Association Of Alaska School Boards Called
The New Funding Palin Fought For A "Historic Event." "Carl Rose, the executive director of the Association of Alaska School Boards, praised the changes in funding for rural schools and students with special needs as a 'historic event,'
and said the finance overhaul would bring more stability to district budgets."
("Alaska Legislators Overhaul Funding," Education Week, 4/30/08) Families Of Special Needs Children "Have Been Flocking To Palin Rallies ...
They Say, Because Her Story Is Theirs, Too." But in the sea of faces, nearly everywhere she goes, she encounters people who aren't really there for the politics. ... Families of children with Down syndrome have been flocking to
Palin rallies. They come to shake her hand, grab a hug or snap a picture,
drawn there, they say, because her story is theirs, too." (Savannah Guthrie,
Nightly News," 10/14/08)

Scott Conroy (CBS News) reports, "The Alaska governor, whose infant son Trig has Down syndrome, said that a McCain/Palin administration would allow more flexibility for parents to choose their children's schools, committed to fully fund the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, and promised to reform and refocus special needs services." This was a major speech and text of it (and video) is up at McCain-Palin:

Too often, even in our own day, children with special needs have been set apart and excluded. Too often, state and federal laws add to their challenges, instead of removing barriers and opening new paths of opportunity. Too often, they are made to feel that there is no place for them in the life of our country, that they don't count or have nothing to contribute. This attitude is a grave disservice to these beautiful children, to their families, and to our country -- and I will
work to change it.One of the most wonderful experiences in this campaign has been to see all the families of children with special needs who come out to rallies and events just
like this. We have a bond there. We know that children with special needs
inspire a special love. You bring your sons and daughters with you, because
you are proud of them, as I am of my son.My little fella sleeps during most of these rallies, even when they get pretty rowdy. He would be amazed to know how many folks come out to see him instead of me. When I learned that Trig would have special needs, honestly, I had to prepare my
heart. At first I was scared, and Todd and I had to ask for strength and understanding.

I did a lot of praying for that understanding, and strength, and to see purpose. And what's been confirmed in me is every child has something to contribute to the
world, if we give them that chance. You know that there are the world's standards of perfection, and then there are God's, and these are the final measure. Every child is beautiful before God, and dear to Him for their own sake. And the truest measure of any society is how it treats those who are most vulnerable. As for our baby boy, Trig, for Todd and me he is only more precious because he is vulnerable. In some ways, I think we stand to learn more from him than he does
from us. When we hold Trig and care for him, we don't feel scared anymore. We feel blessed. Of course, many other families are much further along a similar path -- including my best friend who happens to be my sister, Heather, and her 13-year old son Karcher, who has autism. Heather and I have worked on this for over a decade. Heather is an advocate for children with autism in Alaska. And as governor, I've succeeded in securing additional funding and assistance for students with special needs. By 2011, I will have tripled the funding available to these students. Heather and I have been blessed with a large, strong family network. Our family helps make sure that Trig and Karcher have what they need. But not everyone is lucky enough to have that strong network of support. And the experiences of those millions of Americans point the way to better policy in the care of children with special needs. One of the most common experiences is the struggle of parents to find the best and earliest care for their children. The law requires our public schools to serve children with special needs, but often the results fall far short of the service they need. Even worse, parents are left with no other options, except for the few families that can afford private instruction or therapy. Many of you parents here have been through the drill: You sit down with teachers and counselors to work out the IEP -- an individual education plan for your child. The school may be trying its best, but they're overstretched. They may keep
telling you that your child is "progressing well," and no extra services are required. They keep telling you that -- but you know better. You know that your children are not getting all of the help they need, at a time when they need it most. The parents of children with special needs ask themselves every day if they are doing enough, if they are doing right by their sons and daughters. And when our public school system fails to render help and equal opportunity -- and even prevents parents from seeking it elsewhere that is unacceptable. In a McCain-Palin administration, we will put the educational choices for special needs children in the right hands their parents'. Under reforms that I will lead as vice president, the parents and caretakers of children with physical or mental disabilities will be able to send that boy or girl to the school of their choice -- public or private.

And McCain picks up another endorsement today,
South Carolina's The State which asserts that "we prefer Sen. McCain. First and foremost, he is far better prepared not only to be commander in chief, but to lead the nation as it deals with a complex array of global challenges, from Iran to North Korea, from Russia to Venezuela. Consider two widely different areas of foreign policy, Iraq and Colombia. Sen. McCain has often led the charge against the Bush administration when it was wrong on national security, from the 9/11 Commission (working with Joe Biden to make that happen) to the use of torture. But the most dramatic case regards Iraq. For years, he insisted we needed to send more troops. When Mr. Bush finally agreed to the "surge," Sen. McCain was Gen. David Petraeus' most conspicuous supporter. The surge worked. Sen. McCain was for it, and Sen. Obama was against. That's no accident. Sen. McCain's support arose from his superior understanding of the situation and how to approach it."

Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate and Matt Gonzalez is his running mate. The campaign has toured all fifty states and this Saturday? "
Nader to Attempt Guinness World Record on Saturday: Massachusetts Marathon, Most Speeches in 24-Hours:"This Saturday, Ralph Nader will hold campaign events in 21 cities across Massachusetts in an attempt to set a sanctioned Guinness World Record
to give the most speeches in a 24-hour time period. The minimum threshold
he must meet is 15. He is scheduled to deliver over 315 minutes of speeches
and drive over 365 miles. Each speech will last at least 10 minutes and will
tackle a separate issue.Nader/Gonzalez campaign events are scheduled to be held in the
following cities:Boston, Cambridge, Belmont, Somerville, Medford, Arlington, Lexington,
Concord, Waltham, Watertown, Newton, Worcester, Auburn, Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Northampton, West Springfield, Westfield, Stockbridge
and Sheffield.There is an additional van for intrepid journalists who want to chronicle the adventure from start to finish.For a full itinerary or other related inquires, please contact Ryan Mehta at
408-348-0681, or Rob Socket at 202-471-5833.

And events are lined out throughout the final days of the race.
One just announced will take place November 2nd:
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE RALPH NADER TO SPEAK IN ALLENTOWNWHO: Ralph NaderWHAT: Campaign rally/speech on the Wall Street bailout and other current
issuesWHEN: Sunday November 2 at 7:30pmWHERE: Scottish Rite Cathedral, 1533 Hamilton Street, Allentown, PA 18102On Sunday, November 2 at 7:30pm, consumer advocate and Presidential candidate
Ralph Nader will hold a press conference followed by a rally in Scottish Rite Cathedral.
He will speak about the Wall St. Bailout, single-payer health care, the Iraq
War, the environment, and the state of the Presidential debates from which
he was excluded.Ralph Nader is the only Presidential candidate who recommends jail time,
not bail time for Wall Street fat cats (and the only one who has been pointing
out the risks of deregulation for the last 20 years). He is the number three contender for the Presidency, America's number one consumer advocate,
and he has real solutions to our economic woes.

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