Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ralph Nader and Cher

Nader to Bring Campaign to Memphis
Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 12:00:00 AM

News Advisory


Contact: Mike Welch, 202-471-5833, (National HQ);Parker Dixon, (901) 574-2191, (local)


On Friday, September 19, at 12 p.m., Independent Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader will host a news conference in Civic Center Plaza in front of the city council building at 125 North Main St., Memphis, TN 38103

Mr. Nader will address many critical issues the major party candidates have taken "off the table" that the Nader/Gonzalez Campaign has put on the table, including:- a comprehensive, negotiated military and corporate withdrawal date from Iraq;- a single-payer, private delivery, free-choice public health insurance system for all;- a living wage and repeal of the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act;- a no-nuke, solar-based energy policy supported by renewable, sustainable, energy-efficient sources;- a carbon tax to deter global warming;- an end to the corporate welfare and corporate crime that has resulted in millions losing pensions, savings and jobs and squandered tax dollars; and,- more direct democracy reflecting the preamble to our constitution which starts with "we the people," and not "we the corporations."

WHO: Ralph Nader

WHAT: Press Conference

WHEN: Friday, September 19, from 12 p.m. - 1 p.m.

WHERE: Civic Center Plaza in front of the city council building at 125 North Main St., Memphis, TN 38103

About Ralph Nader

Attorney, author, and consumer advocate Ralph Nader has been named by Time Magazine one of the "100 Most Influential Americans in the 20th Century." For more than four decades he has exposed problems and organized millions of citizens into more than 100 public interest groups advocating solutions. He led the movement to establish the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and was instrumental in enacting the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and countless other pieces of important consumer legislation. Because of Ralph Nader we drive safer cars, eat healthier food, breathe better air, drink cleaner water, and work in safer environments. Nader graduated from Princeton University and received an LL.B from Harvard Law School.

About Matt Gonzalez

Matt Gonzalez was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2000 representing San Francisco's fifth council district. From 2003 to 2005, he served as Board of Supervisors President. A former public defender, Gonzalez is managing partner of Gonzalez & Leigh, a 7-attorney practice in San Francisco that represents individuals and organizations in mediation, arbitration, and administrative proceedings before state and federal regulatory bodies. Gonzalez graduated from Columbia University and received a JD from Stanford Law School.

About the Nader/Gonzalez Campaign

The Nader/Gonzalez independent presidential candidacy will be on the ballot in 45 states, is polling at 5-6 percent nationally, and a new Time/CNN poll shows Ralph Nader polling 8 percent in New Mexico, 7 percent in Colorado, 7 percent in Pennsylvania, and 6 percent in Nevada -- all key battleground states.For more information on the Nader/Gonzalez campaign, visit:

So that's Ralph in Memphis. I honestly thought they should have called it that: Ralph In Memphis. Like Dusty in Mephis.

That is Dusty Springfield's classic album (available on CD) which includes "Breakfast in Bed." Then I thought of "Walking In Memphis." I really know Cher's version best and think it should be on a Best Of Cher album. Not a greatest hits because it didn't chart that well if at all. (I believe "One to One" was the charting single from that album.)

But a Best Of Cher that covered some of her strongest vocals.

Cher's had a long career so it is really too much to expect to cover her entire career with one disc. So I would guess they'd have to do a decade of. But the 90s only has three albums for Cher. The monster seller Believe, One to One and Love Hurts. So here's my track list for her ten best of the 90s.

1) "Walking in Memphis"

2) "Love and Understanding"

3) "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)" (from Mermaids soundtrack)

4) "Love is the Groove"

5) "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore"

6) "Save Up All Your Tears"

7) "Believe"

8) "I'm Blown Away"

9) "All or Nothing"

10) "Paradise Is Here"

I tried to sequence, in case you missed it. I'll offer up an 80s Best of Cher disc as well.

1) "Perfection"

2) "Just Like Jesse James"

3) "I Found Someone"

4) "You Wouldn't Know Love"

5) "If I Could Turn Back Time"

6) "Does Anybody Really Fall In Love Anymore?"

7) "Main Man"

8) "Heart of Stone"

9) "Love on the Rooftop"

10) "After All" (duet with Peter Cetera)

And the 70s.

1) "Half Breed"

2) "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves"

3) "Dark Lady"

4) "Living in a House Divided"

5) "Train of Thought"

6) "War Paint and Soft Feathers"

7) "Take Me Home"

8) "Mirror Image"

9) "The Way Of Love"

10) "My Song Too Far Gone"

And The Best of Cher 60s:

1) "All I Really Want To Do"

2) "Where Do You Go"

3) "Bang Bang"

4) "Needles & Pins"

5) "Catch The Wind"

6) "You Better Sit Down Kids"

7) "For What It's Worth"

8) "The Cruel War"

9) "Reason To Believe"

10) "Old Man River"

That's four decades. Tomorrow, I'll try to compile it down to 14 tracks and see if it's possible to do a Best of Cher 20th Century.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, September 18, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, a US helicopter crashes, 1 US soldier enters a guilty plea, independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader makes news even when the news outlets don't report it, this weekend's NOW on PBS examines women and politics, and more.

Starting with Tuesday's US House Committee on the Budget's hearing on Iraq's Budget Surplus. We're focused on the first panel where the witness was the Government Accountability Office's Joseph A. Christoff.
Tuesday's snapshot covered some of the statements by the committee chair John Spratt Jr., US House Rep Chet Edwards and US House Rep Lloyd Doggett. Tuesday night, Mike noted some of US House Rep James McGovern's questioning as did Wednesday's snapshot which also noted Bob Etheridge, Dennis Moore and Tim Bishop.

Marion Berry: I also think anytime we have a hearing like this, we should first and foremost recognize the contribution and sacrifice that our men and women in uniform and their families have made and we should never ever fail to be appreciative of that.

Joseph Christoff: Absolutely.

Marion Berry: And show that appreciation in every possible way. As I've listened to this testimony and we can talk about numbers, we can talk about policy and all of those things -- it seems to me that we're in a situation where it reminds me of a bumper sticker you see from time-to-time: "DON'T FOLLOW ME, I'M LOST." You just said a while ago, that there's not a plan. I don't know who doesn't have a plan. It seems to me to be pretty obvious that nobody does. I cannot imagine a more ridiculous situation than we're in right now. I would like to think from some of the things you've said that we may actually have a reasonable expectation that it'll get a little better but at the same time we don't have any reason to think it's going to be cleared up and every thing's going to be in really good shape over there in the next few years. Don't know how you define "few." I'd say anything under five years. But I just -- I don't see any, I'm like Mr. McGovern, I don't see any way to end this. We just keep pouring money into that place. We continue to make deals that no responsible person would enter into, it seems to me. And we thank you for bringing us this information too, at least letting us know what is really going on as best as you're able to determine it and I'm confident that you've done that. And we appreciate all of that. Beyond that, I think it's time for the Congress, the American people, the administration and anyone else in a position of responsibility to being to start figuring out how we're going to get out of there and how we're going to bring this to a conclusion because the American people can't stand much more of it. And I thank you for the work that you've done.

We have two more Democrats to note. Other than Pete Ryan (Ranking Minority Member), Republicans elected to skip to the first panel.

Allyson Schwarts: I also thank you for this information. And it's important for us to be having this hearing today and I thank the chairman for doing it because we -- and in some ways, you're offering suggestion on how we can see our way out of this if we just really look at things really quite differently which is that -- as has been pointed out, you pointed out and many of the speakers before me have pointed out -- we have, we're looking at working with the Iraqis to make sure that they use their almost $80 billion surplus to start spending their money on reconstruction. And I was particularly struck that recently there was a -- I guess it was back in August -- some discussions about rebuilding police stations in Iraq and spending American dollars to do that. I have to say representing the city of Philadelphia and the suburbs, I go to police stations and fire stations all across my district and they need reconstruction. And so instead of a president saying we're going to spend our dollars on reconstructing our police stations and helping our first responders we're spending American dollars on reconstruction in Iraq when the Iraqis are actually sitting on $79 billion. Now you talked about the politics of why it hasn't happened but my question really is how can we -- is there a way for us to, one, start to say -- we've tried to in Congress -- to say Iraqis should start paying for reconstruction. I believe the last bill we passed actually had the condition of their spending 50%

Joseph Christoff: Right.

Allyson Schwartz: -- on going forward on that. Is there anyway that you would actually -- that we could insist upon that happening? Is there a way that we could get back some of these dollars that we're spending now that are committed into the future? We were led to believe several years ago that we would not have to pay for this war at all. And that's been pointed out as well. And yet we are right now spending billions of American tax payer dollars to reconstruct Iraq when Iraq has the money. And adding insult to injury we're spending a whole lot, every American family, on the price of gasoline that we're buying from the Iraqis. I mean something about this picture just isn't right no matter how you feel about this war or our going into it. I've been asked just recently this weekend was asked about how we could -- why we're not doing enough to make sure that we get the Iraqis to spend their money on reconstruction. And I understand the politics of it. And I understand even the difficulties on some of the buerocrats. But even if we lend expertise even if we help them figure out how to do this -- why -- is there more that we could be doing to make sure that going forward the Iraqis are spending their money, particularly the surplus -- $80 billion dollars surplus, rather than the American tax payer on reconstruction of basic infrastructure for the Iraqi people which we all agree needs to get done. But why not the Iraqis? And why is this administration -- that's political. What could we be doing even from your perspective to make sure that going forward this is really a changed world, we're not spending American tax dollars on reconstruction, the Iraqis are?

Joseph Christoff: Well let's just talk about this concept of trying to get repayment for perhaps what we did. I think we began in 2004 with good intentions. With good intentions to the fact that the Iraqis at that time did not have the resources. So when you appropriated the $18.4 billion dollars in IRRF 2 (Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund) it was "to jump start the reconstruction process" under two premises that generaly did not pan out. One that it would be a benign environment where you could do reconstruction without violence and secondly the Iraqis would step up to the plate and third the international community would contribute. Those premises never really panned out until quite frankly recently where we see the Iraqis now have a substantial amount of money. I shouldn't say recently. They had surpluses in '05, '06 and '07 as well because they didn't spend on the investments.

Allyson Y. Schwartz: But you're making a good point, if things are more secure if the issues around violence allows them to do some of this reconstrutcion without spending so many dollars on security can we actually get them to both repay us and get them to pay going forward?

Joseph Christoff: Yeah, I don't know if we want to take back our generous contributions to try to jump start -- because I thought they were good intentions back in 2004. But again going forward I do think you should have the healthy debate about cost sharing. And you began it with the roughly three billion dollars that you put and the restrictions you put on the economic support fund -- that it should be a dollar for dollar cost sharing. The State Department in two weeks has to send a report to the Congress certifying that the Iraqis are engaged in cost sharing on the ESF so it will be interesting to see exaclty how the State Department can confirm that that is actually occurring

Allyson Y. Schwartz: I should say not just interesting but also important to our financial security here at home and to respond to the Amercian people that we've actually said that there had to be cost sharing dollar for dollar and it will be important for us to see that that is actually happening going forward. And of course we'd like to see at some point the Iraqis pick up much more of the reconstruction if not all of it.

The last Congress member to question Christoff was Marcy Kaptur. Pay close attention to his final answer to her. She's asking for very basic information, stats and figures (including arrests) and that information, according to Christoff, isn't public. It recalls his earlier comment to House Rep Tim Bishop who merely asked about the possible impact of the de-Baathifcation legislation (passed but not implemented) which resulted in Christoff informing Bishop that it was classified information he could not reveal in an open hearing. What are the possible effects of that legislation -- labeled a benchmark by the White House -- can't be made public. Now Bishop and Kaptur both have clearance. They can get the information as members of Congress. But what Christoff's testimony repeatedly underscored was how much information is being kept from the American people.

Marcy Kaptur: I've been looking over one of the charts that we've been provided that shows the increase in spending by the people of the United States on the war in Iraq and I think everyone knows that every year it gets larger. I remember Secretary [Paul] Wolfowitz coming up before our defense committee saying that we didn't have to worry about this because it would all be paid for. Well, where is he now? I have no idea where he is but he certainly wasn't correct in those statements which I think influenced a lot of the members of this Congress to vote in the way that they did. But one of the bits of information that I have here, that I want you to clarify for me deals with the, what appears to me to be two structures operating in Iraq -- one by the United States and one by the government of Iraq. It says: "While the United States has spent 70% of the $33 billion that it has allocated for key security, oild, water and electricity sectors." In other words, we're spending down the money that the American people have allocated for this. Iraq has only spent 14% of the $28 billion it allocated to those sectors or less than 3% of the 10 billion that it had programmed from the year 2005 to 2008. So as I read these numbers and I'm looking at the expenditure of our dollars and we look at how much we have spent versus how much they have spent, it seems to me then that there may be two structures operating in Iraq: The American paid for structure and then the Iraqi structure. Because how could the Iraqis be doing such a poor job? Is my perception correct that in fact there are two structures operating there?

Joseph Christoff: Well in terms of the --

Marcy Kaptur: For electricity, for water, for oil and security>

Joseph Christoff: Well in terms of how things are spent, obviously when the US spends its money, the majority of that is being spent through the Corp of Engineers -- they've been the big builder using US appropriated dollars. So they're using Corp of Engineering contracting, procurement, budgeting procedures. When you look at how the Iraqi government is spending its resources, it's going through its own ministries -- oil and electricity, water -- to try to do the types of contracting and procurement. So yes there are seperate procedures because there are seperate pots of money.

Marcy Kaptur: I appreciate that because if in fact oil production has gone up it's been because of US expenditures because obviously the Iraqi expenditures aren't locking in.

Joseph Christoff: Right. Most of the money on oil infrastructure has been the US funding.

Marcy Kaptur: Then why would Iraq sign its first contract with China? You have any --

Joseph Christoff: I don't know.

Marcy Kaptur: -- clarity on that?

Joseph Christoff: No.

Marcy Kaptur: And Royal Dutch Petroleum, Royal Dutch/Shell is the next one they signed a deal with? I just find all of this very, very strange. Could you also tell me in terms of the sabatoge and the smuggling --

Joseph Christoff: Mmh-hmm

Marcy Kaptur: -- it's estimated by some that at least a third of what is occurring in the oil sector -- and again, it's unclear to me who is really managing the oil sector? Is it the US dollars that have been allocated or is it the Iraqi dollars that really have a handle on what is happening in the oil sector? But regardless, if you have any comments on that I would appreciate it, of the dollars being expended, why is so much being smuggled out of there? Who doesn't have control of what's happening in the oil fields?

Joseph Christoff: Well I think actually the smuggling and the diversions have declined over the past couple years. The biggest problem that occurred back in 2006 was massive smuggling -- estimates of up to two million dollars out of the Baiji refinery because there was not sufficient protection forces around it. The US and the Iraqi government have responded by putting more protection forces around the majory refinery in Iraq at Baiji and also trying to set up these oil facility police forces that are trying to manage and protect the oil pipelines and the infrastructures particularly in the north. But there are still interdictions that are occuring because you can't cover everything and --

Marcy Kaptur: May I ask you, sir, who hires those security officers for those oil installations?

Joseph Christoff: Yeah, right now it's the Ministry of OIl but it's supposed to eventually be subsumed in the Ministry of Interior's police forces

Marcy Kaptur: But if we look at the expenditure of Iraqi dollars to do all of this, it looks like the US contracted operations are spending their dollars down without them, Iraq wouldn't be able to function. Am I correct? If you just pulled the US contracts and llet them fly on their own.

Joseph Christoff: Well we have lots of reconstruction projects in all of the critical sectors including the oil sector so we have been investing over the past several years in trying to build pipelines, trying to improve the refinery capacity -- a lot of individual projects have added up to billions of dollars. The Iraqis are trying to spend more money in terms of the oil sector. One of the problems with the Ministry of Oil is that, unlike the Ministry of Electricity, it has not developed any type of a plan to determine what its needs are, its priorities and exactly where it should be spending its future resources. And the Ministry of Electricity has a pretty good plan. The Ministry of Oil does not yet have a plan to try to set its own priorities. And he himself has estimated that he needs $30 billion to try to improve the oil infrastructure in Iraq.

Marcy Kaptur: I know my time has expired. If I wanted to read one clear report on what is really going on inside the Iraqi oil sector what would I read?

Joseph Christoff: Inside the Iraqi oil sector?

Marcy Kaptur: For security officers. Who's paying for it, how much is being smuggled, who did the smuggling, was anybody aprehended? Where do I find that?

Joseph Christoff: Well I'd probably have to go back to some of the CIA reports that I read that you wouldn't be able to read in public domain.

Marcy Kaptur: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Again, Kaptur is asking for very basic information. She's not asking for information on how to build a weapon. Stats is all she's asking for and she's informed that the information isn't for the public. The operations Christoff is reporting on are paid for by the tax payer and the tax payer is repeatedly told that things are 'improving' in Iraq. So why is very basic information being kept from the tax payers. And if, dropping back to Bishop's question, the US anticipates that there will be some awful bloodbath as a result of the de-Baathification legislation, since the White House has labeled it a benchmark and since it has yet to be put into effect, shouldn't both the American people and the Iraqi people have a right to know the projections that have been made on that?

Turning to Iraq, last night
CNN reported that a helicopter has crashed in Iraq claiming the lives of 5 US service members. Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) said the death toll is "seven U.S. soldiers" and cites M-NF as the source. M-NF updated it today announcing: "Seven U.S. Soldiers were killed when a CH-47 Chinook crashed about 100 km west of Basra at approximately 12:01 a.m. Thursday. The Chinook was part of a four-aircraft aerial convoy flying from Kuwait to Balad. The seven Soldiers were the only ones onboard the Chinook at the time of the crash. A British Quick Reaction Force team was dispatched from Basra to assist at the site. A road convoy in the vicinity was also diverted to the scene.
The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and official release by the Department of Defense The incident is under investigation, however enemy activity is not suspected." The
Washington Post notes, "There was no word on the cause of the crash or whether hostile fire was involved." Camilla Hall and Michael Heath (Bloomberg News) report that the military is now publicly stating that this should be considered "an accident" on their 'initial' information but that the US military added, "At this time we are uncertain of the cause, but hostile fire has been ruled out." Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) observes, "In total, that means 11 U.S. service members have died since Sunday for non-combat-related reasons" while noting the helicopter crash itself "was the deadliest U.S. helicopter accident in Iraq since Aug. 22 of last year, when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in the northern part of the country, killing 14 U.S. soldiers."
Joseph Giordono (Stars & Stripes) notes, "The AP reported that an aide to U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Okla., said four Texans and three from Oklahoma were among the seven National Guardsmen killed in [the helicopter crash[ . . . Fallin's spokesman Alex Weintz says the four Texans killed were soldiers from the Texas National Guard." ICCC lists 4168 as the number of US service members killed since the start of the illegal war with 17 for the month thus far.

On shootings,
yesterday's snapshot noted: "Meanwhile, AP reports that Staff Sgt. Darris J. Dawson and Sgt. Wesley R. Durbin's deaths on Sunday in Iraq are under investigation and a US soldier 'has been taken into custody' due to the deaths. Troy Moon (Pensacola News Journal) reports that Dawson was 'a father of four' and a graduate of Escambia High and quotes his stepmother Maxine Mathis stating, 'It's bad enough he had to fear the enemy. But he had to fear a fellow soldier. This is senseless. Not only did (the alleged shooter) take our son's life, he took another man's life as well. It's just horrible. I want people to know what happened.'' Chris Vaughn (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) reports that Durbin was from Dallas and 'an honor student and 2001 gradute of Dallas Luterhan School. He volunteered in the Civil Air Patrol in high school, then joined the Marines. After he left the Marine Corps, he joined the Army two years ago'." Greg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher) notes the silence on this story and then amends an AP story at the end which, please note, raids Troy Moon's report and does so without credit. Today Nicholas Spangler (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Dawson was on his third tour of duty and that his stepmother (Maxine Mathis) states, "He was telling me about these nightmares he'd have. He'd wake up in a cold sweat, seeing the things he was seeing over there. It really was messing with my son's mind." NYT's Stephen Farrell (for the Times' owned International Herald Tribune) explains that April of 2005 saw "Seargent Hasan Akbar, of the 101st Airborne Division, was sentenced to death over a grenade attack on his comrades in March 2003 in Kuwait, at the very outset of the war" and "In November 2006, Staff Seargent Alberto Martinez, serving with the New York National Guard, was arraigned in a military court suspected of murdering two officers in a grenade and mine explosion at one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces in Tikrit in June 2005. He has consistently maintained his innocence but if convicted could face the death penalty." Yesterday's snapshot also included this: "BBC reports that Sgt John Hatley, Sgt 1st Class Joseph Mayo and Sgt Michael Lehy Jr. are charged with murdering four Iraqis ('blindfolded, shot and dumped in a canal in April 2007'). . . . CBC notes, 'The killings are alleged to have been retribution for casualties suffered by U.S. forces.' CBC also states that four more are being held and are under investigation (with two of the four US soldiers having been charged). AP, however, says the four additional soldiers 'have already been charged with conspiracy in the case'." None of those three soldiers charged with murder has entered a plea but one of the four charged with conspiracy has: Spc Belmor Ramos. AP reports that
Ramos "pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder and was sentenced to seven months in prison Thursday in the deaths of four Iraqis, saying he stood guard from a machine-gun turret while the bound and blindfolded prisoners were shot."

In some of today's reported violence . . .


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 3 Baghdad roadside bombings that left twelve people wounded (including five Iraqi soldiers), a Nineveh roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers (one more wounded) and, dropping back to last night, a Nineveh car bombing that wounded one police officer. Reuters notes a Mosul roadside bombing that claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers, 2 Tal Afar roadside bombings that left nine people injured and a Hawija roadside bombing that left two people injured.


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a man shot dead in Mosul and his wife and daughter injured in the shooting and 1 person shot dead in Nineveh province. Reuters notes a Mosul home invasion that claimed 4 lives and 2 drive-by shootings in Mosul that each claimed the life of a "retired security personnel".


Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 2 corpses discovered in Baghdad. Reuters notes 3 corpse discovered in Mosul.

Ralph Nader is the independent presidential candidate. Matt Gonzalez is his running mate.
Yesterday the campaign was able to announce that Nader - Gonzales was on the ballot in Florida (officially). Today they announce Nader made 46 ballots. That is the 45 states ballots they set as their goal (and achieved before their self-declared deadline) as well as the ballot in the District of Columbia. Team Nader notes that residents of Texas, Georgia, Indiana and North Carolina will be able to vote for Nader - Gonzalez via write-in which means the residents of 49 states (and DC) can vote for them. The 45 state ballots is eleven more than in 2004 and one more than in 2000. The Nader campaign's Michael Richardson explains, "This means 85 percent of the American electorate will actually see the names Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez on their ballots. . . . This is quite a feat since states generally make it really hard for third-party candidates to get on state ballots. But in every state, our volunteers collected more than enough signatures to qualify. The response has been positive -- much better than in 2004. It's obvious that there is national interest in more choices and independent candidates outside the two-party system." Tomorrow the Nader - Gonzalez campaign holds a rally in Lousiville, Kentucky (6:30 p.m., University of Louisville, Swain Student Activities Center, Suite W310).

Team Nader notes:

I have always been skeptical when people blame a lack of news coverage on some nefarious plot by the media. Most people who cry media 'blackout' aren't that newsworthy, have stories that don't check out, or don't pitch their story that well. The truth is, unless you have a compelling, timely, well pitched story, today's media will not cover it. They are too burdened by ever tighter web-driven deadlines, fewer reporting staff, and the barrage of sophisticated public relations professionals who definitely do know how to pitch a story, and outnumber reporters 5-to-1. But after a full week working as Ralph Nader's media coordinator, I have a new perspective.The story of the decade is breaking, we have the candidate of the century on this story--and we are getting no coverage by major media.After years of neglect, deregulation, and sharp declines in corporate transparency and corporate accountability, the gig is up and Wall Street is being shaken to its foundations. What has already happened towers over the savings and loan crisis, and we are not even close to the end, or even the beginning of the end. The Wall Street bailouts and wipe outs are on track to be the biggest frontal assault on financial consumers and taxpayers in history. Ralph Nader, America's undisputed protector of consumers, has uncannily tracked the chain of events--on the documented public record--that has led our economy down this devastating path. In countless letters, testimonies and reports--all warning of the dangers of unrestrained greed absent accountability and transparency (check for yourself at, Ralph proposed alternative paths, and all along the way he was ignored or ridiculed. Now he has a plan to soften the blow, get us out of the morass, and help ensure it doesn't happen again. But no major press will cover it. No New York Times. No Wall Street Journal. No Associated Press. No network news. Nothing but a pundit on C-Span, kudos from a newsletter and a little article on the web site Politico. The September 16th Washington Post summed up the gravity of this issue on its front page: "Yesterday's meltdown on Wall Street brought the economy roaring back to the center of the presidential campaign, and the question for the final seven weeks of the general-election campaign is whether Barack Obama or John McCain can convince voters that he is capable of leading the country out of the morass." If the meltdown on Wall Street and bailout by taxpayers is the deciding factor of this election:
Which candidate has the best record for consumer protection, standing up for small investors and taxpayers in America?
Which candidate has been warning us all along the way of the dangers of deregulating Wall Street?
Which candidate has a plan to get us out of this morass, restore accountability and transparency to Wall Street, and can actually be trusted to do what he says?
His name is not Barack Obama or Senator McCain, and he is invisible as far as the media is concerned. Yesterday, Ralph Nader issued a chronology of the lead-up to the current meltdown, and his ten-point plan to restore a semblance of accountability, transparency, and incentives that would steer Wall Street away from short-termist, out-of-control casino capitalism toward fulfilling its proper function of efficiently allocating capital to advance our long-term economic well-being. The plan was sent out to 6,000 reporters, including specific e-mails and phone calls to the editors and reporters from the major newspapers that are on this beat and evening TV news producers. Aside from the Fox cable business channel, no major media picked it up. After a series of editorial board meetings we did this week with the Washington Post and New York Times Washington Bureau, I think I know why. When we asked them what their standards for covering Ralph Nader were, it was clear they didn't have any. But Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor at the Washington Post, hit the nail on the head. He said, "I like some of your issues, but I don't see how you being a presidential candidate affects them. I see you more as a consumer advocate." In other words, if Ralph was just some guy running for president on the ballot in 45 states with 5 percent support in the polls, he might actually get some coverage in that role, rather than having his giant stature as a consumer advocate trivialize his presidential candidate stature. So today, when AP broke a story that the Federal bank insurance fund was dwindling and in danger of needing a taxpayer bailout, I tried taking Fred up on his advice and pitched to the economic editors and financial reporters, emphasizing 'Ralph the consumer advocate.' It happened that just two months ago Ralph wrote a letter to Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, who have oversight over the FDIC, warning of exactly this and suggesting some measures to shore up the FDIC reserves before it was too late. As usual Congress dismissed Ralph's warning, with Congressman Spencer Bachus saying there was "no factual basis" for his concern. Six years ago, Ralph warned of the potential shakeout from Clinton giving most of the commercial banks free federal deposit insurance since 1995, saying, "Don't be surprised if this latest banking reform deteriorates into little more than another version of the savings and loan deposit insurance reforms of 1980 which helped fuel that industry's demise and lightened taxpayers' pockets by several hundred billions of dollars."Here we have a substantive story where Ralph is right in the sweet spot from the beginning of the problem to the present. I phoned up Marcy Jones, the AP SEC reporter who had broken the story to let her know Ralph had called it six years back, and that he now had a plan to fix it. But Marcy didn't want to hear from Ralph either, and referred to me to the political desk. I called the AP Washington Politics Editor, Donna Cassata, with great enthusiasm, saying "Now I have something that is too good to pass on." But she passed.The Wall Street meltdown story has Ralph Nader's name all over it, and as a candidate or as a consumer advocate he should be getting an avalanche of requests and invitations--not a stone-wall. That's ok. This story is not going away and neither are we. If need be, our supporters will overwhelm the political and economic editors and producers, taking the public relations professional-to-journalist ratio to a new order of magnitude.In the mean time, thank goodness for our Cardozo the Parrot video, which goes to show that even sheep cannot ignore a talking bird.

Team Nader then links to
this Washington Post piece by Chris Cillizza. Staying with politics, this weekend's NOW on PBS offers:

How have women in politics changed America and the world? NOW on PBS investigates with an hour-long special hosted by Maria Hinojosa: "Women, Power and Politics: A Rising Tide?"See the show on television this weekend or
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Show Description: Given the hoopla surrounding Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton's historical political ascendance, why does the U.S. rank so low among countries for percentage of women holding national office? On Friday, September 19 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), in a one-hour special, NOW's Maria Hinojosa talks to women leaders around the world and here in the United States for an intimate look at the high-stakes risks, triumphs, and setbacks for women leaders of today and tomorrow. Among these women are President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, the first woman leader in Latin America who did not have a husband precede her as President, and former New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen, now in a tight race for a seat in the U.S. Senate.We also travel to Rwanda, where, 14 years after a horrific massacre left nearly one million people dead, women make up nearly half of parliament; and to Manhattan, where ambitious high school girls are competing in a high-stakes debate tournament."Women, Power and Politics," is also about the personal journey of mother and award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa as she strives to answer the question: "What does to mean to be a woman in power?"Watch a preview and excerpt of this special program at
this web address:Use this directory tool to find out where the show is airing in your area: The NOW website ... will feature web-exclusive commentary from noteworthy women including Maria Bartiromo, Sandra Cisneros, and Tina Brown; a personal essay from Maria Hinojosa; an interactive debate over Sarah Palin's candidacy; as well as opportunities for all women to post and share their stories of ambition, success, and discouragement.(The "interactive debate" over Sarah Palin's candidacy is live now ...)

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