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Undernews For October 20, 2008

Undernews For October 20, 2008

FROM THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW
Washington's Most Unofficial Source
611 Pennsylvania Ave SE #381
Washington DC 20003
202-423-7884
Editor: Sam Smith

20 OCT 2008

SWAMPOODLE REPORT: PATHOLOGICAL PRECEDENTS

Sam Smith

I have been trying hard to recall a presidential campaign in which there has been so much slime, sleaze and slippery deception confronting the voter. I can't. Even Nixon, by the time he was a presidential candidate, had cleaned up his act. McCain and Palin seem to be establishing new subterranean standards for such campaigns.

But while thinking about it, two non-campaign analogies came to mind, one dismal, the other hopeful.

The first is Germany just before the rise of Hitler. Germany's willingness to accept Hitler was the product of many cultural characteristics specific to that country, to the anger and frustrations in the wake of the World War I defeat, to extraordinary inflation and particular dumb reactions to it, and, of course, to the appeal of anti-Semitism. Still, bearing in mind all the foregoing, there was also:

- A collapse of conventional liberal and conservative politics that bears uncomfortable similarities to what we are now experiencing.

- The gross mismanagement of the economy and of such key worker concerns as wages, inflation, pensions, layoffs and rising property taxes. Many of the actions were taken in the name of efficiency, an improved economy and the "rationalization of production." There were also bankruptcies, negative trade balance, major decline in national production, large national debt rise compensated for by foreign investment.

- The collapse of the country's self image. Historian Thomas Childers points out that Germany had had been a world leader in education, industry, science and literacy. Much of the madness that we see today stems from attempts to compensate for our battered self-image.

- Finally, consider Article 48 of the constitution of the Weimar Republic, which stated, "In case public safety is seriously threatened or disturbed, the Reich President may take the measures necessary to reestablish law and order, if necessary using armed force. In the pursuit of this aim, he may suspend the civil rights described in articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124 and 153, partially or entirely. The Reich President must inform theReichstag immediately about all measures undertaken . . . The measures must be suspended immediately if the Reichstag so demands." It was this article that Hitler used to peacefully establish his dictatorship. And why was it so peaceful and easy? Because, according toChilders, the 'democratic" Weimar Republic had already used it 57 times prior to Hitler's ascendancy. Echoes of the Patriot Act and "homeland security."

Into this situation came the Nazi Party which rose from 3% of the vote to being the majority party in four years. Central to its politics were campaigns that lashed out at opponents without revealing its own agenda. Infct , the use of negative campaigning is actually a contribution to modern politics by Joseph Goebbels. It turned voters paranoiac, arguments vicious and reality irrelevant.

The danger today lies not in what McCain and Palin might do themselves. Despite their anti-democratic instincts, they are too incompetent to do much other than fail. But it is in that failure that the danger would lie. Imagine the economy truly sinking into a depression that the McCain administration badly bungles, leaving a situation that, to an increasing number, can only be resolved by decisive action, accompanied by the appearance of a general or otherfaux savior to carry out that action. It only took four years in Germany.

The second, and far happier, allusion is to the 1950s when extremism was headed not for triumph but to the showers. Racism, nativism and phony patriotism were all in full force, but they came from those who knew their backs were against the wall. The segregated south was collapsing, McCarthy had been censured by the Senate and that which would become known the 1960s was beginning to sprout.

There is no way America could revert to the model typified by McCain and Palin except by force. After all, it's an America that no longer exists.

And the arguments are absurd, given life by a media that that can't or won't separate hyperbole from facts. The only thing Obama is extreme about is his own ambition propelled by a consensus politics about as radical as a bowl of Cream of Wheat without the milk and sugar.

An ABC poll suggests people aren't falling for the nastiness:

- 52% say McCain's pick of Palin weakens their confidence him.

- 60% say Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers is not a legitimate issue.

- The split on ACORN as in issue is 49-40 against it being a decent issue.

If the 1950s analogy is fair, then what we are hearing is the anger of the soon to be defeated - not just in an electoral sense but in a historical one as well. What remains a mystery, however, is what will replace it.Obama's campaign is based on trust in elite consensus rather than in popular progress. This seldom works for long, especially in a country with as many problems as America.

President Obama may soon find himself in the position of the 18th century French revolutionary who was having some wine at an outdoor cafe when a large crowd rushed by. He put down his glass, saying, "Excuse me. I must leave. I'm supposed to be leading them."

FLOTSAM & JETSAM: ANN

Sam Smith

When 9/11 happened, one of the first people I thought of was Ann Jones. I was working out in my basement six blocks from the US Capitol, my wife was at her office five blocks from the White House and one of the captured planes was still on its way to Washington.

Ann was thousands of miles away, safely in London, but I still thought of her and asked myself: what would Ann do now?

Ann had been one of two English children who had come to live with our family in Washington during World War II. Ann returned to live with the family for five years after the war. She passed away in London today.

It hadn't been easy for a nine year old Ann to get to Georgetown in July of 1940. She wrote me 60 years later:
I set sail in the Duchess of Atholl in convoy. There was a slight skirmish with a submarine. I remember feeling the ship shudder as depth charges were dropped but we were unscathed and pressed on, though I remember seeing icebergs and wondering.

My mother told me we might well be sunk. If I was dragged underwater, not to struggle. I would come to the surface naturally, then not to strike out to England or America but float on my back, as I had learned at school, until I was picked up.

On August 30, 1940, the Volendam set off with a load of British children for America. It was sunk in the Irish sea. All were saved.

On September 17, the City of Benares sailed with many of the Volendam survivors. It sank in mid-Atlantic and most of the children perished.
No more British children were sent to America after that.

Ann was dry in wit, resolute in determination, stolid and unflappable in crisis. Decades later we were discussing a recently departed relative who had been on the periphery of the Bloomsbury Group. What had happened, I asked, to Lucy Norton's ashes? "Well, I suppose they were thrown out with the rubbish." Ann paused and then added, "I think Lucy would rather have liked that."

Ann managed to blend pleasure with realism, treating them not as opponents but as natural colleagues of life, and helped this young boy learn how to face the bad times.

The man she would marry was quite a bit older and had been a new doctor during the London blitz, during which over 20,000 people died in seven months and a million of the city's homes were destroyed or damaged. Each day the doctors were given colored tags to attach to the feet of air raid victims. Each tag represented one bed and each color one hospital in London. When the tags were gone so were the beds.

I told this story in a talk I gave some years ago and added the following, which unconsciously incorporated some of what I had learned from Ann:

To view our times as decadent and dangerous, to mistrust the government, to imagine that those in power are not concerned with our best interests is not paranoid but perceptive; to be depressed, angry or confused about such things is not delusional but a sign of consciousness. Yet our culture suggests otherwise.

But if all this is true, then why not despair? The simple answer is this: despair is the suicide of imagination. Whatever reality presses upon us, there still remains the possibility of imagining something better, and in this dream remains the frontier of our humanity and its possibilities. To despair is to voluntarily close a door that has not yet shut. The task is to bear knowledge without it destroying ourselves, to challenge the wrong without ending up on its casualty list. "You don't have to change the world," the writer Colman McCarthy has argued. "Just keep the world from changing you."

Oddly, those who instinctively understand this best are often those who seem to have the least reason to do so, who somehow discover not so much how to beat the odds, but how to wriggle around them.

CRASH TALK MONDAY OCTOBER 20

Raw Story - Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has called for a probe into $70 billion worth of pay deals planned for employees of failed banking firms receiving government aid. Kucinich said that he was directing his staff to immediately probe Wall Street firms that have received any portion of the $700 billion bailout plan recently passed by Congress, in response to a recent report by The Guardian outlining the firms' dramatic drops in revenue, but not in executive compensation. That report showed that over $70 billion was to be allocated towards pay deals, including discretionary bonuses, at firms such as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. "When Congress placed restrictions on excessive executive pay, it had no intention of permitting business as usual with respect to bonus structures," Kucinich said. "It would add insult to injury to ask taxpayers not only to bailout a firm, but to pay for bonuses as well. The Guardian's report necessitates an immediate inquiry."

Michael S. Barr And Gene Sperling, NY Times - It is not tenable to suggest that the Community Reinvestment Act, which was enacted more than 30 years ago, suddenly caused an explosion in bad subprime loans from 2002 to 2007. During the 1990s, enforcement under the reinvestment act was strong, prime lending to low-income communities increased and it was done safely. In 2000, a Federal Reserve report found that lending under the act was generally profitable and not overly risky.

By contrast, in the 2002 to 2007 period, the act's enforcement was weak and its advocates had little influence with Congress. In 2003, President Bush's chief thrift regulator - holding a chainsaw in his hands as a prop - boasted of his plans to cut banking regulations, including the scope of the reinvestment act and his enforcement staff, which he carried out over the next two years.

Instead, the bad subprime loans were predominantly made by financial firms not covered by the act. According to recent Fed data, 75 percent of higher-priced loans during the peak years of the subprime boom were made by independent mortgage firms and bank affiliates that were not covered by the act.

If the Community Reinvestment Act caused the subprime crisis, it is hard to make sense of why non-covered lenders drove the growth. These subprime lenders were competing with more responsible lending under the act by banks and thrifts. Their loans undid the work of community banks that had been making sound mortgage loans to creditworthy low- and moderate-income borrowers for years.

Dion Money Management - The Wall Street Journal recently reported that investors have lost $2 trillion in retirement assets over the 15 months. 65% of American workers 45 years and older now intend to delay their retirement, according to a September survey by the AARP.

PAGE ONE MUST

WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH DEMOCRATS

George Packer, New Yorker - Until the mid-seventies, the white working class-the heart of the New Deal coalition-voted largely Democratic. Since the Carter years, the percentages have declined from sixty to forty, and this shift has roughly coincided with the long hold of the Republican Party on the White House. The white working class-a group that often speaks of itself, and is spoken of, as forgotten, marginalized, even despised-is the golden key to political power in America, and it voted overwhelmingly for George W. Bush twice, by seventeen per cent in 2000 and twenty-three per cent in 2004.

Thomas Frank's 2004 book "What's the Matter with Kansas?" directed its indignation at the baffling phenomenon of millions of Americans voting year after year against their economic self-interest. He concluded that the Republican Party had tricked working people with a relentless propaganda campaign based on religion and morality, while Democrats had abandoned these voters to their economic masters by moving to the soft center of the political spectrum. Frank's book remains the leading polemic about the white reaction-the title alone has, for many liberals, become shorthand for the conventional wisdom-but it is hobbled by the condescending argument that tens of millions of Americans have become victims of a "carefully cultivated derangement," or are simply stupid.

Last year, four sociologists at the University of Arizona, led by Lane Kenworthy, released a paper that complicates Frank's thesis. Their study followed the voting behavior of the forty-five per cent of white Americans who identify themselves as working class. Mining electoral data from the General Social Survey, they found that the decline in white working-class support for Democrats occurred in one period-from the mid-seventies until the early nineties, with a brief lull in the early eighties-and has remained well below fifty per cent ever since. But they concluded that social issues like abortion, guns, religion, and even (outside the South) race had little to do with the shift.

Instead, according to their data, it was based on a judgment that-during years in which industrial jobs went overseas, unions practically vanished, and working-class incomes stagnated-the Democratic Party was no longer much help to them. "Beginning in the mid-to-late 1970s, there was increasing reason for working-class whites to question whether the Democrats were still better than the Republicans at promoting their material well-being," the study's authors write. Working-class whites, their fortunes falling, began to embrace the anti-government, low-tax rhetoric of the conservative movement. During Clinton's Presidency, the downward economic spiral of these Americans was arrested, but by then their identification with the Democrats had eroded. Having earlier moved to the right for economic reasons, the Arizona study concluded, the working class stayed there because of the rising prominence of social issues -Thomas Frank's argument. But the Democrats fundamentally lost the white working class because these voters no longer believed the Party's central tenet-that government could restore a sense of economic security.

RECOVERED HISTORY

PARALLEL BETWEEN DRUG & ALCOHOL PROHIBITION

Consumer Reports Magazine, 1972 - In contrast to the many logical arguments in favor of alcohol prohibition, the one decisive argument against such a measure is purely pragmatic: prohibition doesn't work. It should work, but it doesn't. . .

Alcohol prohibition was not repealed because people decided that alcohol was a harmless drug. On the contrary, the United States learned during prohibition, even more than in prior decades, the true horrors of the drug. What brought about repeal was the slowly dawning awareness that alcohol prohibition wasn't working.

Alcohol remained available during prohibition. People still got drunk, still became alcoholics, still suffered delirium tremens. Drunken drivers remained a frequent menace on the highways. Drunks continued to commit suicide, to kill others, and to be killed by others. They continued to beat their own children, sometimes fatally. The courts, jails, hospitals, and mental hospitals were still filled with drunks, In some respects and in some parts of the country, perhaps, the situation was a little better during prohibition-but in other respects it was unquestionably worse.

Instead of consuming alcoholic beverages manufactured under the safeguards of state and federal standards, for example, people now drank "rotgut," some of it adulterated, some of it contaminated. The use of methyl alcohol, a poison, because ethyl alcohol was unavailable or too costly, led to blindness and death; "ginger jake," an adulterant found in bootleg beverages, produced paralysis and death. The disreputable saloon was replaced by the even less savory speakeasy. There was a shift from relatively mild light wines and beers to hard liquors-less bulky and therefore less hazardous to manufacture, transport, and sell on the black market. Young people-and especially respectable young women, who rarely got drunk in public before 1920- now staggered out of speakeasies and reeled down the streets. There were legal closing hours for saloons; the speakeasies stayed open night and day. Organized crime syndicates took control of alcohol distribution, establishing power bases that (it is alleged) still survive.

Marijuana, a drug previously little used in the United States, was first popularized during the period of alcohol prohibition and ether was also imbibed. The use of other drugs increased, too; coffee consumption, for example, soared from 9 pounds per capita in 1919 to 12.9 pounds in 1920.

During the early years of alcohol prohibition, it was argued that all that was wrong was lack of effective law enforcement. So enforcement budgets were increased, more prohibition agents were hired, arrests were facilitated by giving agents more power, penalties were escalated. prohibition still didn't work. . .

In summary, far more would be gained by making alcohol unavailable than by making any other drug unavailable. Yet the United States, after a thirteen-year trial, resolutely turned its face against alcohol prohibition. Society recognized that prohibition does not in fact prohibit, and that it brings in its wake additional adverse effects.

BREVITAS

MCCAINERY

Think Progress Appearing on MSNBC's Hardball, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) attacked the patriotism of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), based on his alleged relationship to former Weather Underground member William Ayers and the values of Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. "I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views," said Bachmann. "That's what the American people are concerned about." She then went further, suggesting that all liberal views - held by people such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, professors, and all Americans who identify themselves as "liberals" - are "anti-American." When host Chris Matthews, stunned by her remarks, asked Bachmann how many people in Congress hold anti-American views, she responded, "You'll have to ask them." Bachmann called on the media to conduct investigations into the anti-American activities of members of Congress, similar to Sen. Joseph McCarthy's discredited House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in the 1950s. "I think people would love to see an exposé like that," she claimed. . . Update: Bachman's Democratic opponent raised nearly three quarters of a million dollar for his campaign in the weekend following her appearance on Hardball.

OUTLYING PRECINCTS

Think Progress - The League of Conservation Voters released its 2008 National Environmental Scorecard - giving McCain a 0 percent rating. The scorecard ranks members of Congress on 11 key votes based on "the consensus of experts from about 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations." McCain received a "0" because he missed every one of those votes. His lifetime LCV rating is 24 percent. McCain has voted against tax incentives for renewable energy, updating building code standards for energy efficiency, and modernization of the electricity grid. Furthermore, he does not support any increases in fuel efficiency above existing law. McCain curiously said in August, "I have not missed any crucial vote" on energy legislation.

THE MIX

WTOP, DC - Although more than 20 percent of Washington-area law partners are female, only 2 percent of partners are black, Hispanic or Asian women, a new study of law firm hiring practices has found. Minority women continue to struggle to make it to the elite ranks of the legal profession not just in Washington, but nationwide, the National Association for Law Placement found in its annual survey. . . D.C.'s figure is better than the national average - slightly less than 2 percent of partners in the country are minority women - but it's still bleak. . . Part of the problem is that minority women either aren't accepting or aren't being offered jobs at law firms, the NALP study found. . . According to statistics kept by the American Bar Association, nearly one-quarter of all law school graduates in 2006-07 were minorities. Leipold said that minority female law graduates outnumber male minority grads nearly 2-to-1. So where have all the minority women gone? George Washington law professor Stephanie Ridder said mentors are essential to law firm life."There's nobody to take them along. They generally feel pretty excluded," Ridder said of young minority female lawyers.

ORWELLANDIA

Times, UK - Everyone who buys a mobile telephone will be forced to register their identity on a national database under government plans to extend massively the powers of state surveillance. Phone buyers would have to present a passport or other official form of identification at the point of purchase. Privacy campaigners fear it marks the latest government move to create a surveillance society. . . The move is targeted at monitoring the owners of Britain's estimated 40m prepaid mobile phones. They can be purchased with cash by customers who do not wish to give their names, addresses or credit card details.

FREEDOM & JUSTICE

ACLU - ABC News reported that NSA officials have intercepted, listened to and passed around the phone calls of hundreds of innocent U.S. citizens working overseas -- including soldiers, journalists and human rights workers from organizations like the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders -- even after it was clear that the calls were not in any way related to national security. NSA officials regularly passed around salacious calls such as the private "phone sex" calls of military officers calling home, according to the report. This week, the ACLU filed Freedom of Information Act requests demanding that the National Security Agency and the Justice Department disclose any policies and procedures pertaining to how the NSA protects Americans' privacy rights when it collects, stores and disseminates private U.S. communications. The NSA has not released a public version of its procedures for protecting the privacy of U.S. communications since 1993.

Washington Post - Several antiwar and anti-death penalty activists who were inappropriately listed as terrorists in a Maryland State Police database said yesterday that they will not review their files unless they can bring a lawyer and receive copies of the documents for their records. . . "I don't want to go unless I have representation, because there are important legal issues involved," said Ellen Barfield of Hamden, an active member of Veterans for Peace. . Stephen H. Sachs, the former U.S. attorney and Maryland attorney general who headed the review, recommended as part of the review that citizens entered into the database without evidence of crimes have the chance to review their files. Sachs said he has "no continuing role" in the case. "But it seems appropriate, and I hope constructive, to say that my intent in making that recommendation was to urge the Maryland State Police to afford, in complete good faith and in compliance with Maryland law, all of those it wrongly accused of 'terrorism' a full and meaningful opportunity to review and comprehend the relevant data in the files," Sachs said. He declined to elaborate.

THE YOUNG

Ottawa Citizen - Cutting the arts in schools is narrow-minded and counter-productive, says creativity guru Sir Ken Robinson. . . "Being creative is about having original ideas that have value. We tend to think arts and sciences work completely differently, but the process is the same," said Mr. Robinson, a former professor who was knighted by the Queen in 2003 for his contributions to education, including having overseen a national commission on creativity, education and the economy. There's nothing undisciplined about creativity, he said. Creativity fosters innovation, an economic necessity. It's not the flip side of science and business, but a part of it, he told the conference, organized by the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation. The system puts too much emphasis on standardized testing, numeracy and literacy, because that's where the money will be when students graduate, he said. But while standardized testing has a role, the culture it creates has narrowed the focus to those things that can be tested.

ARTS & CULTURE

Kerry Luerman, Salon - On Sunday, Nov. 2, the comic "Opus" will end. Worse yet, creator Berkeley Breathed has made it clear that the strip's namesake will, in that final strip, find his "final paradise." Sure, it's been an unnaturally long run for a penguin. Opus, who started with a bit part in Breathed's Pulitzer-winning "Bloom County" (1980-89), starred in "Outland" (1989-95) and finally took center stage in "Opus" (2003-08). But for those of us accustomed to seeing our own thoughts -- and fears, hopes and simmering anger -- take flight in the broken-nosed face of a penguin every week, there's no preparation for his exit, only mourning. . Breathed says it's the anger that led him to close the book on "Opus," that the increasingly nasty political climate has made it too difficult to keep his strip from drifting into darkness. Breathed has described his work as a hybrid of "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz's gentle humor and Michael Moore's crusading social justice. Perhaps losing touch with his inner Charlie Brown, Breathed has said that "a mad penguin, like a mad cartoonist, isn't very lovable," and wants Opus to take his final bow before bitterness changes him forever.

FURTHERMORE. . . .

BBC - Police in Jamaica are investigating the suspected theft of hundreds of tons of sand from a beach on the island's north coast. It was discovered in July that 500 truck-loads had been removed outside a planned resort at Coral Spring beach. Detectives say people in the tourism sector could be suspects, because a good beach is seen as a valuable asset to hotels on the Caribbean island. But a lack of arrests made since July have led to criticism of the police. . . Illegal sand mining is a problem in Jamaica; the tradition of people building their own homes here means there is a huge demand for the construction material. However, the large volume and the type of sand taken made suspicion point towards the hotel industry. There is some suspicion that some police were in collusion with the movers of the sand Mark Shields Deputy Commissioner of Police. . . Police said they were carrying out forensic tests on beaches along the coast to see if any of it matches the stolen sand.

READER COMMENTS

NOTE: You can post your comments on any of the above stories by going to our Undernews site and searching for the headline. Once posted, a copy is immediately mailed to the Review and we pick some of the most interesting to publish here. http://prorev.com/indexa.htm

THE CLINTON-OBAMA-ALINSKY MYTH

I think Sam goes way overboard in claiming that Obama has gotten this far because of the "race card." While I have been highly critical of Obama's equivocating -- especially on the outsourcing of jobs as witnessed by my articles in ZNet, Foreign Policy in Focus, Extra!, and Z -- he has achieved the nomination and a commanding lead without resorting to racial appeals. Unlike Jesse Jackson's 1988 campaign which tapped into the angry populism of white workers and farmers from Wisconsin to West Virginia, Obama has had to use a much more restrained approach which has emphatically neutralized the racial issue as much as possible. much to the Right's frustration.

In other words, both Sam and I are frustrated that Barack Obama is listening too much to neo-liberal Wall Streeters like Robert Rubin. We would both rather seem Obama preparing to unveil an updated version of the New Deal that radically re-wrote the $700 billion bank bailout.

But the charge that Obama has played the "race card" -- an accusation much more properly addressed to Hillary Clinton and her very ugly comments about "hard-working white people" -- has no basis in reality.

Finally, a few words on Saul Alinsky are called for. As the son of democratic socialists and unionists, I grew up idealizing Saul Alinsky and read everything he wrote and attended every Alinsky speech I could.

But the more I studied and reflected on Alinsky's "rules for radicals," the more I concluded that his focus was entirely tactical and pragmatic. For all his immense achievements and all the people he inspired, he underestimated, even disparaged, the role of moral values in activating people and was consistently unwilling to outline his strategy for structural change or his concept of a new America based on economic and social democracy.

Yes, the inimitable Saul Alinsky still has much to teach us, but we must also be aware of the limits of his vision as well. - Roger Bybee, Milwaukee.

What I said was that "He is today your run of the mill liberal politician who doesn't want anybody mad at him and wouldn't even be a card in the race if he didn't hold the race card." The perhaps too subtle difference was between playing and holding. The people who played the race card - just as they play the gender, age, war veteran and other cards - were the party leaders who picked Obama out of the state legislative crowd to be their new icon. If he had been a white state senator we would have never heard about him. That's not his fault; just a fact. - Sam

OBAMA CALLS SINGLE PAYER 'EXTREME'

The Medicare for all bill already exists and has been stuck in committee for 2 years. HR676 needs to be passed.

MCCAIN - A MUGWUMP, NOT A MAVERICK:

"It looks like America will be sending this fake maverick [McCain] to the feed lot."

Is it your intention to contaminate the food supply with mad cow disease?

TAKING IT FROM THE TOP AGAIN

"There's not a lot we can do about this, but we have to remember that progressives also have presumptions and that it is also easy for us to cling to old concepts when times dramatically change.This is a rare moment. If progressives just play by rote, then this moment will pass them by, too. They have to start thinking right now about what's changed and how they're going to deal with it in a changed way."

What progressives need to understand is that both socialism and capitalism have taken for granted an abundance of the earth's resources. This is no longer the case. I'm in healthcare and have held for some time that our energy and other ecological problems will force us to either nationalize healthcare or see it sold to the extremely wealthy.

OBAMA

Barack Obama has repeatedly minimized the effect of fraudulent voter registration by maintaining the position that a "registration" is not a "vote" implying of course that it has no "real" impact on the election. So why do voter registration numbers matter? It turns out pollsters report their findings based on the number of registered voters. Historically, there have been more registered Democrats than Republicans and so historically, pollsters have weighted their polls based on a 39% Dems to 36% Repubs to 26% Indies split.
In this election, because of the surge in registered Dems, some polls have been weighted to favor Dems by as much as 50%. Obviously, the psychological damage caused by these skewed poll findings is enormous. The upside is that they do not capture an accurate picture, and this should give us some hope in what looks like a dire situation.
There can be no doubt that Barack Obama knows this because, as we all know, his real experience - and indeed the only thing you might say he is actually an expert at - is voting law and how to manipulate it to his ends. This is obviously one more time when Obama has no problem "misleading" the American people on an issue of grave national importance. - Democrat for McCain/Palin

BILL AYERS

McCain's tacit claim of superiority over Bill Ayers should be subjected to closer scrutiny. An itemized accounting of damage to government property, whether caused negligently or intentionally, might show McCain's culpability to be the greater of the two. Further, the targeting of civilian areas in Vietnam compares unfavorably to Ayers' concern to destroy property in a manner that was mindful of the risk of personal injury to others.

WORKING ACROSS POLITICAL CULTURES

You are opposed to the "War on Drugs," as are most liberals. I am not considered a liberal, but on that issue, I agree 100%, as do many others that are not liberals.

So where does that leave us? Your group meets . . . but you could have many like me to help, but in your group I am not invited, nor am I welcome.

So, my suggestion is, do not form a group of liberals - form a group of activists, whatever their political persuasions. Then have the meetings with only one main agenda item, like "The War on Drugs" and an open agenda, where people can bring up any issue, regardless of where it is considered to be, liberal, conservative, middle of the road, whatever. The only mission statement would be that the group only deal with issues, and not where they fall on the position of politics.

It just seems to me that your approach is illustrated by the Senate or House of Representative. Whatever bill comes up, it is generally supported by one party or the other, and whichever party supports it, the other party must oppose it. Wouldn't it be much better if the Senator or Congressman supported or apposed it, based on whether they support or oppose the issue? Wouldn't your suggested group be better with twice as many supporters, no matter, their politics? - Wayne Mann, Arroyo Grande, CA

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