2008
02.24

CNN:
Ralph Nader enters presidential race

Nader said Thomas Jefferson believed that “when you lose your government, you’ve got to go into the electoral arena.”

“A Jeffersonian revolution is needed in this country,” he said.

Nader told NBC that great changes in U.S. history have come “through little parties that never won any national election.”

“Dissent is the mother of ascent,” he said. “And in that context I’ve decided to run for president.”

I am very undecided about Nader’s run. On the pro side of things, I think he will bring an important perspective to the race and will hopefully push the Democratic nominee to not drift as far to the center as he or she might otherwise do.

On the negative side, there is a major issue with the spoiler factor. We don’t have a fair system for electing the President, so it is very possible for a third party candidate to throw the race to dark side. In 2004 there was no real substantive difference between Bush and Kerry (both of them were pro-Iraq war, pro-patriot act and pro-Nafta… Kerry even wanted to institute a surge in troop numbers), but this year I think the contrast is more pronounced. Both Obama and Clinton are today opposed to the war in Iraq. I don’t think they are nearly radical enough in ending the war or bringing about real change, but the difference between them and McCain isn’t insignificant.

My hope right now is that Nader will stay in the race but will negotiate with the eventual democratic nominee for him to pull out of the race. For instance, he could get a guarantee that all troops will be out of Iraq in one year in exchange for dropping out. Or maybe Nader could agree to run a “safe states” strategy, in which he only campaigns in states that have no real risk of him being a spoiler.

However it goes down, I’m hoping that Nader will be yet one more factor to push the Democrats to not compromise on the war, universal health care, or any other critical issues of this election year. The Dems have nothing to fear from Nader, unless they play it safe and run a disasterous stand-for-nothing campaign like they have for the last few presidential electoral cycles.

Oh and one more thing… just to make it clear to my readers, Nader is running as an Independent and not as a Green. He also ran as an independent in ’04 (he sought the GP’s endorsement but they rejected him). While I like Nader in many ways, I think the GP should again choose a grassroots candidate in ’08. There are several promising folks in the GP race right now, and I think Nader has never been much into party organizing, so it would be better to chose someone new.

2008
02.19

VeteransforPeace.org: VFP Troop Engagement Project – Ft. Stewart – Hinesville, Georgia, February 16 – 28, 2008

VFP volunteers will engage active duty soldiers at Fort Stewart Army Base in Hinesville, Georgia between February 16 and 28, 2008. The engagement will be modeled on the successful VFP Veterans’ Convoy of March 2007. The purpose of the convoy was to provide active duty service members with information calculated to provoke critical thinking and discussion among themselves about the Iraq War and to let them know that if they acted on their consciences against the war that VFP and other groups would support them. . .


IVAW.org: Winter Soldier 2008

In 1776, Thomas Paine wrote: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

In 1971, a courageous group of veterans exposed the criminal nature of the Vietnam War in an event called Winter Soldier. Once again, we will demand that the voices of veterans are heard.

Once again, we are fighting for the soul of our country. We will demonstrate our patriotism by speaking out with honor and integrity instead of blindly following failed policy. Winter Soldier is a difficult but essential service to our country.

Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan will feature testimony from U.S. veterans who served in those occupations, giving an accurate account of what is really happening day in and day out, on the ground.

The four-day event will bring together veterans from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan – and present video and photographic evidence. In addition, there will be panels of scholars, veterans, journalists, and other specialists to give context to the testimony. These panels will cover everything from the history of the GI resistance movement to the fight for veterans’ health benefits and support.



I’m really excited about these events, as they are some of the early signs that the GI Resistance movement is starting to go public. More and more veterans of the Iraq/Afghan wars are speaking up against the wars, and more and more soldiers are speaking out as well. We certainly have a long ways to go before the resistance movement reaches the levels of the Vietnam war, but things are moving forward.

If all works out, I’ll be at both of these events providing legal support (just for the last few days of the Ft. Stewart action unfortunately) on behalf of the Military Law Task Force. Hopefully I’ll have some encouraging news to report from these events in the coming weeks on this blog.

Please consider doing all you can to support the brave soldiers and veterans who are daring to speak against war at these events.

2008
02.17

PeaceArena.org:Women’s reproductive rights severely limited in Oklahoma

Rena’s post got me thinking about a wacky ad I’ve seen recently on TV about abstinence. Well, actually the ad itself is ok, but rather it is the website that the website is pitching that I find to be pretty ridiculous.

The website itself is a pro-abstinence education website put out by the federal government. In an of itself, abstinence is a good message for high schoolers. I don’t think most folks that age are ready for sexual activity, and promoting monogamy is a decent public policy I suppose (certainly from a disease control perspective).

However, no matter how you much promote abstinence, most kids are going to get it on before they are married, either sooner or later. I did (well I never have been married), and I’m certainly not alone. Certainly I was well aware of the ideal taught by church and family and that kept me a virgin in high school, but by the time I was in college the hormones won out. — But when I did go ahead and have sex, I am very grateful that I knew about condoms and used them. Sexual experiences are an incredible thing and the emotions associated with them were difficult to navigate, but I am so, so glad that I didn’t have to deal with being thrust into the world of parenthood at the same time.

So, what does this have to do the 4parents.gov website. Well my beef with it is that it uses statistics in a false and misleading way to parents and educators from talking to their kids about birth control.

In fact, you have to go down to the Sex and risky youth behaviors page on the website to find out information about birth control, where you’ll find a link to their page on birth control.

On this page, they provide statistics on the “typical use failure rate” (percentage of females who experience an unintended pregnancy during the 1st year of typical use) for different birth control methods, such as a failure rate of 15% for male condoms.

This of course sounds pretty bleak, until you compare these statistics with the odds for having unprotected sex. According to WebMD website, 20 year old females have a 90% chance of getting pregnant within one year if they are not using protection (scroll down on the page to see the age-based results). While this isn’t a perfect comparison (the “typical user rate” of the 4parents.gov website doesn’t factor in age, as far as I know), it would sound like that users of condoms improve their odds of not getting pregnant within the first year of sexual activity by 75%.

Are these odds perfect? No. But are they compelling? Yes. And young people should know about them.

And this takes us back to the abortion issue. Most folks will have sex before they are married, either in their teens or early 20’s. It certainly is good to encourage young people to wait, but we need to be realistic about the fact that most folks will only manage to maybe push back sexual activity by a few years. So, if most folks are going to get it on, then why not give them the knowledge and encouragement that they need to act responsibly? And why not do everything we can to prevent unplanned pregnancies? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the old saying goes. This seems like a no-brainer to me.

And this brings back to the initial issue. It seems strange to me that conservatives who oppose abortion (a view I share with them by the way. I don’t favor going back to abortion being criminalized, but I do think it is morally wrong and we as a society should do all we can to support women who chose to not have an abortion) also are opposed to comprehensive sex education? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

2008
02.15

I’ve made a few quick changes to my website at GIRightslawyer.com.

2008
02.14

ABC News: Edwards Weighs Clinton Endorsement — Former Candidate Torn Between Clinton and Obama in Democratic Race

It will be interesting to see what he does. The headline in this story is a bit misleading, as it sounds to me that he is in serious talks with both campaigns about a possible endorsement, and has had or will have in-person meetings with both of them.

If he can swing a deal to become either Attorney General or Vice President, I think he should go for it. I think he would definitely bring a lot to the table in a future administration, and given the precedent of Cheney, I think it would not be unexpected for a Democratic VP to play a bigger role than VP’s have in the past.

As to who he should pick, boy, I don’t know. I go back and forth pretty often. I like and dislike Clinton and Obama both. I think both will improve things a little bit on some fronts, and will hopefully provide enough political cover for the Democratic do-nothing congress to actually end the war in Iraq. (however, I’m afraid they won’t be fast about it) I’m also concerned that they are too invested in the uber-capitalistic machine and will continue to support pro corporate policies which really sucks.

At the present moment, I’m leaning a very little bit towards Clinton, but it isn’t much of a lean. I think her health care policy is better than Obama’s which is a pretty big deal, but I also am still very upset with her failure to show up to vote against BARF (Bankruptcy Abuse Reform Fiasco) and her big ties to the credit card industry. But, I think it is high time to elect a woman as president, and that coupled with the unfair and sexist abuse I’m seeing her catch from both the left and right is making me pretty sympathetic towards her.

I’ll probably change my mind tomorrow though. And I’m very open to third party choices at this point, particularly if the democratic nominee drifts to the right after the primary elections are over.

2008
02.08

I just got a call from a sergeant with the US Army recruiting office in Tulsa. He started trying to be all chumy with me and asked if I was still taking classes at Tulsa Community College (who I found out gave them my number, since I took classes from them last year). I asked him if he was a recruiter. He said yes. I told him to take my name off his list as I was a Mennonite and don’t support the military (just for clarity, I support military servicemembers but not the evil institution of the military itself) and from there the conversation took off. By the end, he was telling me how I should be grateful that folks like him gave me my freedom, and I told him that my rights came from God (thats what the Declaration of Independence says, you know that part where “all men are created equal and endowed by their creator…). And then he hung up on me.

Oh the best part was that he said that you have the right change your MOS (military occupational specialty, or you job in the military) at any time! That is a total lie.

Anyway for any Tulsa area folks who want to call this guy and try to talk him out of his work (it seems only fair, since he is calling young people and asking them join the Army’s mission of death), here’s his phone number:

 918-234-8283

2008
02.07

CNN: Romney suspends presidential campaign

CNN) — Mitt Romney suspended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination Thursday, saying if he continued it would “forestall the launch of a national campaign and be making it easier for Senator Clinton or Obama to win.”

“In this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror. This is not an easy decision. I hate to lose,” the former Massachusetts governor said.

“If this were only about me, I’d go on. But it’s never been only about me. I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, in this time of war I feel I have to now stand aside for our party and for our country.” . . .

I think Romney’s statement makes it clear how low at least some Republicans will go in this election, to equate a Democratic victory with a “surrender to terror.”

I’m no fan of Clinton or Obama at this point, and am undecided whether I’ll be able to vote for one of them in good conscience or not, but I have to say that statements like Romney’s are the kind of thing that might force me to vote for a lesser-than-two-evils democrat.

I think that given the tone that the Republicans are taking, that it is time for the Democrats to hit back and to hit back hard. Obama and Clinton need to quit making wishy-washy statements about the war and instead state clearly that under their watch that the war will end, and it will end soon. Then the people of American can decided — do they want eternal war and deaths out of a fear of “terror”, or do they want want an end to war and solid diplomatic action to prevent future terror. It is a given that the Republicans will accuse the Democratic stance as being that of surrender, whether the move to end the war is mushy or for real. So, if you are going to catch hell for it, then why not go all out. A clear stance to end the war soon (within 12 months or less) will make it clear to the American people what they are going to get. If the Democrat will take this stance they will get my vote and I think the votes of many more.

2008
02.06

The four February posts on this blog disappeared today. I saw them this morning, but after dinner, noticed them gone. No idea what happened, but luckily they were cached by Google, so will be relatively easy to restore. If readers notice any others missing, please let us know. Thanks!

Update: Mystery solved. The web host moved the account to a different server, and about three days of content were in the gap — still on the old server, so not “lost,” but not included in the new files and databases.

2008
02.05

Here are the final results using the ranked preference point system:

Democratic Straw Poll

Barack Obama 24 pts. (33.3%)
John Edwards 22 pts. (30.6%)
Dennis Kucinich 10 pts. (13.9%)
Hillary Clinton 9 pts. (12.5%)
Jim Rogers 3 pts. (4.2%)
Christopher J. Dodd 2 pts. (2.8%)
Bill Richardson 1 pt. (1.4%)

(Total 12 voters with 72 points cast)

Republican Straw Poll

Fred Thompson 9 pts. (37.5%)
Duncan Hunter 6 pts. (25.0%)
Mike Huckabee 5 pts. (20.8%)
John McCain 2 pt. (8.3%)
Tom Tancredo 1 pt. (4.2%)
Mitt Romney 1 pt. (4.2%)
Ron Paul 0 pts. (0%)
Rudy Guilliani 0 pts. (0%)
Jerry R. Curry 0 pts. (0%)
Alan L. Keyes 0 pts. (0%)
Daniel Gilbert 0 pts. (0%)
(Total 4 voters with 24 points cast)

Blog authors voting D:

Blog authors voting R:

Thanks to all who participated! Now get out there and vote in the real primary! You still have two hours!

2008
02.05

Today’s Super Tuesday and for my Okie readers, don’t forget to vote in the primary (assuming you’re a registered Republican or Democrat).

I know that Obama or Clinton are almost certain to win the Democratic nomination. Certainly they are an improvement over Bush, and would be better than the Republicans (except maybe Ron Paul… I would almost be ok with his free-marketism if he really would end the war now), but they are so vapidly shallow and IMHO without any strong guiding principles on which they truly stand for.

If I had to pick right now, I would probably pick Hillary just because I think she is catching a lot of hell from sexists. I’ve heard horrible things even from progressives that have nothing to do with her issues, but rather a lot more about backwards sexual prejudices. And I would also want to pick Obama because at least he never voted for the war. But really there’s no real difference between the two of them, so I suggest that folks pick someone else so as to hopefully send a message to the powers that be.

On the Republican side of the aisle, I wouldn’t back any of them but if I had to pick, my picks (for different reasons) would be… McCain (because he is so aggressively pro-war that he will hopefully drive out the anti-war left to vote. He also isn’t quite as bad on immigration issues as the others), Guiliani (because he has a slightly better record on LGBT rights) and Paul (because despite my vehement disagreement with him on economics and immigration, he is very anti-war and in the end that trumps all of the other issues).

So my primary endorsements are…

Democrats – John Edwards (with a close second going to Kucinich)

Republican – Ron Paul

Also for folks interested, I’m tabulating the blog straw poll as we speak. Results will be up soon.