1st debate: mccain-old, obama-smart, palin-muzzled, biden-yeah!

September 27, 2008

Looked as if McCain would run scared and not face Obama for the first debate. But that honor was given to Palin, whose stand-in was an obnoxious Rudy Giuliani. I don’t know who muzzled Palin: did she? But someone knew she’d make a fool of herself and the GOP. McCain said during the debates that his partner was a maverick just like he is. Hmm. Must by nice to believe one’s own hype. McCain was condescending to Obama. Chuck Dodd (NBC Political Director), one of the commentators with Brian Williams, said afterwards that McCain clearly disliked Obama — that something about Obama bothered McCain immensely. I think it’s that McCain has tried to become president how many times? Let’s see. Looks like this is only the second time, but why does it seem he’s been trying to be president forever? I think he wants it so badly that he cannot stand the sight of a younger politician with a meteoric rise. And that’s the source of his condescension towards Obama.

Palin was strikingly absent. Giuliani must have been schooled by McCain’s debate coaches, because he continued the condescension by saying that McCain just gave Obama a foreign policy lesson. Must be Giuliani’s deep knowledge of the subject, just as he’s so eloquent about community organizers. Not! Biden’s quick response to Brian Williams after the debate was sharp, critical of McCain (“John’s dead wrong”) and supportive of Obama’s points.

From McCain/Palin, look for more big, emotional phrases — like, “I believe in America” — with no practical plans to ensure there will be an America in the next decade. God help us if McCain/Palin steal this election!

The other very scary thing about McCain is that he talks about Iraq as if it were the Vietnam War. The exact same phrasing from that time: We will win this war. We will not come home defeated. Every time he talked about Iraq, I flashed back to talk about Vietnam. Biden must be close to McCain’s age but from Biden, I don’t get that stuck-in-the-past frozen-ness that I hear from McCain. From Biden, I get a reverence for the past and a willingness to learn from it to keep moving in the present and beyond.

we need vigilance against war

September 24, 2008

Rhetoricians for Peace has an article in CommonDreams called “Can Obama Prevent an October Surprise Attack on Iran?.” Check it out. Be vigilant.

staggering financial insanity

September 22, 2008

A helpful discussion with Bernie Sanders, Robert Scheer, and Dean Baker at DemocracyNow explains the insanity of this proposed bailout. One person compared the pushing through of the Patriot Act after 911 with this bailout during a financial crisis that has long been predicted. Crisis-mode makes for mistakes.

Alaska Women Reject Palin rally sounds the call!

September 18, 2008

Check out this account of the Alaska Women Reject Palin rally at Mudflats’ blog. Make sure you scroll down and check out the pictures.

to fish and farm in Gaza means risking one’s life

September 18, 2008

Below is an update from the Friends of Gaza —

This report on fishing & farming in the Gaza Strip is from Donna Wallach, an ISM and Free Gaza Movement volunteer in Gaza:

(GAZA) On Monday, 15 September 2008, international human rights volunteers with the International Solidarity Movement & Free Gaza Movement joined the Palestinian Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) in symbolically planting trees in the buffer zone in Fukharee, north of Rafah.

The buffer zone was established by Israeli Occupation Forces in one of Gaza’s prime agricultural areas. The zone is a “no-go” area roughly 300 meters wide along the entire eastern border of the Gaza Strip. In this “buffer” zone, farmers are violently prohibited from farming their land, and these areas have become very dangerous for the Palestinians to live and farm in.

The Israeli buffer zone is another form of siege that denies the Palestinians right to livelihood, feeding their families, freedom of movement and to live in Peace. This is all happening during the so-called cease fire.

ISM volunteers met at UAWC office in Khan Younis before joining with a few hundred UAWC activists. Two buses and four cars transported all the volunteers, the trees and the shovels to Fukharee, close to the border with Israel. Upon arriving some people noticed the tell-tale dust of an Israeli tank as it appeared from behind some trees off in the distance.

All the volunteers got off the buses and started walking toward the fields holding 3 banners and chanting “Free, Free Palestine” in Arabic. Various news agencies and independent video cameras recorded the event.

We dug holes and managed to plant about 100 plant olive, guava and citrus trees. Although the ISM volunteers were there to both join Palestinians as they reclaimed their land and demand that Israel stop destroying the crops in the area, the action was a primarily symbolic. The UAWC plans to
continue doing various similar actions throughout the Gaza Strip in and near the buffer zones.
(GAZA) On Wednesday 17 September 2008, I (along with two other international volunteers) went out with three different fishing boats from the Gaza City port to trawl for fish. We left the port at about 8:30am.

I was on a boat with fishermen I already knew. We went out about seven and a half miles, put out the net and began to trawl. It wasn’t long before an Israeli Naval gunboat approached, and circled around. The fishermen requested from me to speak with the Israeli Navy. I did make contact with
them, telling them that “we were Palestinian fishermen fishing in Gazan waters. Palestinians have the right to fish in Gazan waters, they have the right to a livelihood and to feed their families.”

Someone on the Israeli Naval gunboat said in Hebrew that it was forbidden for the Palestinian fishermen to be out past six miles. I replied that according to International Law, the Palestinian fishermen had the right to fish beyond twelve miles in their territorial waters. His response was to
call me “bitch”. Soon after that the gunboat opened fire on the fishing boat, aiming, what appeared to me to be toward the center of the boat. The fishermen quickly pulled in their net, not wanting their boat or any of the equipment to be damaged by the gunfire.

We drove back towards the Gaza coast until we reached about six miles out and began trawling again. The gunboat came by again and circled around menacingly. Off in the distance we saw the large Israeli Naval gunboat that has the water cannon stationed at the fore of the boat. We were
expecting to get drenched, but were pleasantly surprised when it continued past us without stopping or even aiming the water cannon at us. Other boats were not so lucky, and Vittorio Arrigoni (an international human rights monitor from Italy) was injured by flying glass when an Israeli water cannon was aimed at the boat he was on.

The Israeli Navy contacted our boat via VHF again reiterating that it was forbidden for them to fish out beyond six miles. This is an abomination! The large quantities of fish are out beyond the six mile limit, as are the larger fish. The fishermen need to be able to fish in their territorial waters, when and where they want.

It is an outrage that Israeli Naval gunboats patrol the Territorial Gazan Waters at will. They harass, threaten, shoot, damage and terrorize the Palestinian fishermen, their boats and fishing equipment. The Israeli Navy often limits the Palestinian fishermen from fishing beyond three or four miles, and sometimes they aren’t permitted to fish at all.

This would not be tolerated any place else in the world.

Fishing is one of the few sources of Palestinian food left in Gaza. The Israeli Occupation Forces have destroyed much of the farm land and have established an illegal buffer zone on much of the agricultural farm land within Gaza, denying Palestinian farmers their livelihood and the right to feed their families. This has made 80% of the Palestinians living in Gaza Strip totally dependent on food aid from the UN.

It is time that these collective punishments upon the entire population of Gaza Strip end. The Palestinian people have the human right to live in freedom. Parents have the human right to provide for their children. Children have the human right to go to school and students have the human right to attend University. Farmers have the right to farm their land and fishermen have the right to fish in their own territorial waters. This siege must end.

Please, be creative – put pressure on the Apartheid State of Israel to end the siege now – tell your families, your friends, your co-workers that this situation can no longer be tolerated. Ban the Israeli Navy from Gazan Territorial Waters!

–Donna Wallach, international human rights monitor, writing from Occupied Gaza.

The McCain campaign — a problem with rape?

September 15, 2008

There’s John McCain’s rape joke (that he can put those two words together should tell us something), and his accepting money from Clayton Williams, who seems to agree with McCain. And now we have another club member in Sarah Palin, who authorized that rape victims in Alaska had to pay for their own exams. That law finally got overturned — but no thanks to Palin. I’m sensing a pattern here…

“Stop voting for people you want to have a beer with.”

September 14, 2008

Finally. Someone says it. Michael Seitzman at The Huffington Post in his piece called “Sarah Palin Naked” warns that anyone who saw the Sarah Palin interview with Charles Gibson on ABC and was not “scared out of your freakin’ mind” is not fully present. Seitzman ends with this:

Stop voting for people you want to have a beer with. Stop voting for folksy. Stop voting for people who remind you of your neighbor. Stop voting for the ideologically intransigent, the staggeringly ignorant, and the blazingly incompetent.

Vote for someone smarter than you. Vote for someone who inspires you. Vote for someone who has not only traveled the world but who has also shown a deep understanding and compassion for it. The stakes are real and they’re terrifyingly high. This election matters. It matters. It really matters. Let me say that one more time. This. Really. Matters.