Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Green Party's Political Suicide

Yesterday, I lamented that the Green Party missed the "Walter Cronkite moment" by refusing to use the Ralph Nader/Peter Camejo campaign for the purpose of giving an electoral expression to the anti-war movement ("Missing the 'Walter Cronkite Moment,'" June 29, 2004). Apparently, the Green Party is in much worse shape than I thought. Rather than simply missing an opportunity to raise the party's political profile in preparation for 2008 by running a strong anti-war campaign nationwide in 2004 when both the Democratic and Republican Parties are stuck with pro-war candidates John Kerry and George W. Bush, the Green Party committed political suicide, by selecting a vice presidential candidate who does not take her own candidacy seriously and announces her lack of seriousness publicly:
Pat LaMarche, the Green Party's newly nominated candidate for vice president, said Tuesday that her top priority is not winning the White House for her party, but ensuring that President Bush is defeated. She is, in fact, so determined to see Bush lose that she would not commit to voting for herself and her running mate, Texas lawyer David Cobb.

LaMarche, who won 7 percent of the vote when she was the Green Independent candidate for governor of Maine in 1998, said she'll vote for whoever has the best chance of beating Bush.

But "if Bush has got 11 percent of the vote in Maine come November 2, I can vote for whoever I want," she said in an interview with the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.

And if the state is, as it is now, a toss-up between Bush and presumptive Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry?

She could well vote for the Democrat.

"I love my country," she said. "Maybe we should ask them that, because if (Vice President) Dick Cheney loved his country, he wouldn't be voting for himself."

A spokesman for the Bush-Cheney campaign said the vice president is certain to vote for his and Bush's re-election.

Larry Sabato, a political scientist who directs the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said, "It's a rare thing, even for a splinter party, to have a nominee for vice president indicate she is not sure for whom she is going to vote." (emphasis added, Joshua L. Weinstein, "LaMarche Says She'll Vote for Whoever Can Beat Bush," Portland Press Herald, June 30, 2004)
Who the hell is going to vote for a candidate who says she may vote for a rival candidate rather than herself??? LaMarche lost her radio job after her DUI arrest and conviction in 1997:

Pat LaMarche served four days for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. Since her arrest, her life has gone into a tailspin of uncertainty. Staff photo by Jack Milton (Barbara Walsh, "Former Radio Host's New Identity: The Drunken Driver," Portland Press Herald, October 22, 1997)
For a Green Party candidate, what's worse than driving under the influence is campaigning under the influence, i.e., under the influence of the Democratic Party. Fortunate individuals can survive DUI, physically and politically. No such luck in the case of CUI, a self-destructive behavior which sets a third party on a sure road to certain political death.

Same Donkey, Different Saddle

Haifa Zangana, an Iraqi-born surrealist artist who was a political prisoner under Saddam Hussein's regime, comments on the transfer of "sovereignty":
In Iraq, we have an expression: same donkey, different saddle. Iraq's long-heralded interim government has now formally assumed sovereignty. Official labels and tags have duly changed. The US administrator will now be an ambassador, while Sheikh Ghazi al Yawar and Iyad Allawi, US-appointed members of the former governing council, are to be known as president and prime minister.

To formalise the change, the UN has already issued a resolution under which "multinational forces" will replace "US-led forces". On the issue of control over US troops, the message is clear: the US forces are there to stay only because "Iraqi people" has asked them to. But which Iraqi people? Do they mean the new administration headed by the CIA's Iyad Allawi? And why does all this sound strangely familiar?

In Iraq we don't just read history at school -- we carry it within ourselves. It's no wonder, then, that we view what is happening in Iraq now of "liberation-mandate-nominal sovereignty" as a replay of what took place in the 1920s and afterwards.

On April 28 1920, Britain was awarded a mandate over Iraq by the League of Nations to legitimise its occupation of the country. The problems proved enormous. The British administration in Baghdad was short of funds, and had to face the resentment of the majority of Iraqis against foreign rule, which boiled over that year into a national uprising. In the aftermath, the British high commissioner had to come up with a solution to reduce the British loss of lives.

A decision was taken to replace the occupation with a provisional Iraqi government, assisted by British advisers under the authority of the high commissioner of Iraq. Finding a suitable ruler was not easy.

On the August 21 1921 Gertrude Bell, Oriental secretary to the high commissioner, wrote to her father about the transfer of sovereignty to Iraqis. She mentions some of her Iraqi "pals" and enemies, descendants of whom are playing similar roles in Iraq today: "Muzahim Pachachi (the one who made the speech in English at our tea party at Basra). And another barrister whom you don't know, Rauf Beg Chadirji, a pal of mine. And still more splendid was one of the sheikhs of the northern shammar, Ajil al Yawar; I had seen him in 1917 when he came in to us". Then she refers to "Saiyid Muhammad Sadr ... a tall black bearded alim (cleric) with a sinister expression. We tried to arrest him early in August but failed. He escaped from Baghdad and moved about the country like a flame of war, rousing the tribes."

To the British government, control of Iraq's oil was a necessity. Iraqi national liberation movements called for "Istiqlal al Tamm" -- complete independence -- which was regarded by the British as "the catchword of the extremists". Any protest against the British-imposed monarchy was similarly regarded as the work of "extremists".

In 1930 a new treaty was signed which aimed to satisfy Iraqi aspirations for the coming 25 years, but the British retained their power, through military bases, advisers and control of oil. The monarchy proved an oppressive regime under which many opposition leaders were executed and thousands more were imprisoned. Elections were managed, corruption was widespread, bombing and military force was used against popular uprisings, chemical weapons were used against the Kurds. Popular uprisings followed in 1930, 1941 1948, 1952 and 1956. Between 1921 and 1958 Iraq had an astonishing 38 cabinets, some of them only lasting 12 days. The mainstay of a corrupt and docile regime was the presence of British forces on the ground. Is this what present-day Iraq has to look forward to? ("Iraqis Have Lived This Lie Before," The Guardian, June 29, 2004)
By the way, Britain, like the United States, uses the first-past-the-post system in national elections, which puts even sharp critics of liberal imperialism like Zangana into a predicament reminiscent of life under dictatorship:
I hesitated, but still voted Labour [in the 2001 elections]. What choice did I have? Now the US is pushing for a massive assault on Iraq, and Blair is one of the few leaders willing to offer troops. Can it be true that the man I voted for is now preparing to "liberate" Iraq, in the same way he liberated Afghanistan, by ensuring the death of thousands of civilians? Is it true that he is relying on the Iraqi National Congress, a group set up in the early 90s with CIA help, and now funded by the State Department? Does he know that they are loathed by most Iraqis? . . .

When I hear Tony Blair speak on Iraq, I am reminded of my old landlady, who asked me, politely, in the late 1970s, about home. I explained a little about the government there and how it doesn't give a damn about people. She listened attentively then, in a nice, gentle way, said: "Next time, don't vote for him dear." (Zangana, "Bombs Will Deepen Iraq's Nightmare," The Guardian, September 17, 2002)
Come to think of it, the aforementioned Iraqi proverb, "Same Donkey, Different Saddle," is a perfect description for the perennial results of electoral politics in Britain and America.

Destruction d’une carte

Illustration: collage de Haïfa Zangana, Destruction d’une carte, 1978
Haïfa Zanganaa, née à Bagdad, vit à Londres

Manifesto Issued from the Last Trench of the Revolution

The ninth stanza of "The Teachings of F. Al-Azzawi" (Fadhil Al-Azzawi, Miracle Maker: The Selected Poems of Fadhil Al-Azzawi, trans. Khaled Mattawa, Rochester, NY: BOA Editions, Ltd., 2003, p. 34):
Manifesto Issued from the Last Trench of the Revolution

Fight with us for a happier world
Free hotel rooms
Come sleep with us on collective beds

A world revolution in cities and countryside to create the Corporation of Free Society (Dh. M. M. Inc.), we declare we will fight for the following goals:


Fill in the blanks with whatever goals you wish. We trust you.


The Old Committee for the New Revolution

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Meat Tags

Rick Reilly wrote about "the flattop Marine town of Jacksonville," North Carolina, before the invasion of Iraq began:
"A lot of 'em are young and scared to be going over," says Rachael Mays of the Sleeping Dragon tattoo parlor. "They come in for their meat tags. You know, dog tags for the skin. Their name, rank, serial number, religion, blood type and gas-mask size. They want 'em in case they're blown in half. Then at least some part of them can come back to their folks."

. . . At the base theater, 600 Marines pack the joint but not because Catch Me If You Can is playing. They're working on their wills Moonie-style under the direction of a base attorney. One wants Over the Rainbow played at his funeral. Another wills all 50 guys in his company $10 each. His savings just barely cover it. ("Where Have All the Young Men Gone?: Why the Preparation for War on Iraq Really Hits Home in Jacksonville, N.C.," Time, February 17, 2003, p. 104)
Reilly concluded the article by quoting what the tattooist says to her "meat-tagged" Marines as she sends them off: "'For God's sake,' she says, as she sees them to the door, 'keep your head down'" (p. 104).

Missing the "Walter Cronkite Moment"

One of the most eloquent indictments of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, memorializing both acclaimed sacrifice of privilege and anonymous suffering of privation, came from an unexpected source -- Sports Illustrated. SI columnist Rick Reilly wrote in the magazine's May 3, 2004 issue:
The Hero and the Unknown Soldier

All day, in San Jose, the parents of late NFL star Pat Tillman were seeing their son get the kind of attention he would've hated: his face on CNN, teddy bear memorials, a tribute from the White House.

All day, in Bellaire, Ohio, the grandmother of former high school football star Todd Bates was living with a solitary ache she can barely describe: The boy she raised as her own came back from Iraq in a box, and nobody broke into a newscast to announce his death to the nation.

Since 9/11, all Arizona Cardinals strong safety Pat Tillman wanted was to fight for his country. He took a potential $1,182,000 annual pay cut to jump from the NFL to the Army Rangers in 2002, and he refused all attempts to glorify his decision. He told friends that he wanted to be treated as no more special than the guy on the cot next to him. ("He viewed his decision as no more patriotic than that of his less fortunate, less renowned countrymen," Arizona senator John McCain said.) Tillman even forbade his family and friends from talking to the press about him. News crews begged for photos, mere shots of him signing his induction papers or piling out of a truck at Fort Benning, Ga., or getting his first haircut -- anything. They got nothing.

Since he was a kid, all Bellaire High linebacker Todd Bates wanted was "to be somebody," his football team chaplain, Pastor Don Cordery, told the Associated Press. When you grow up poor and without your parents around, you get hungry to make your mark. He wasn't a good enough player to get a scholarship, yet he desperately wanted to go to college. So in 2002 he took the only road available to him -- he left home and joined the Ohio Army National Guard. Nobody wanted to take a picture of him getting his haircut.

Tillman, 5'11" and 200 pounds, joined the only team tougher than the NFL -- the 75th Ranger Regiment. He served a tour of duty in Iraq, then went to Afghanistan. He was killed last Thursday in an ambush in the remote eastern Afghan province of Khost. His younger brother Kevin, also a Ranger, escorted his body home.

Bates, 6 feet and 250 pounds, walked eight miles a day with a 50-pound backpack to lose enough weight to join the Army, recalls his grandmother Shirley Bates, who raised him from a baby. He made it to Baghdad and was on a boat patrolling the Tigris River when his squad leader lost his balance and fell overboard. Without a life jacket Bates dived in to rescue him. Both men drowned. It took 13 days to find Bates's body, on Dec. 23, one month before his unit returned home.

Tillman's death shook the country like no other in this war. Makeshift memorials sprang up at his alma mater, Arizona State, and at the Cardinals' offices in Tempe. The club announced that the plaza around its new stadium will be named Pat Tillman Freedom Plaza. At the NFL draft in New York, commissioner Paul Tagliabue wore a black ribbon with Tillman's name on it. Some people talked about retiring his number, 40, league-wide.

Only friends and family grieved for Bates, but deeply. It so tormented Shirley's companion, 61-year-old Charles Jones -- the man who helped her raise Todd -- that he refused to go to the funeral. "If I don't go, then Toddie can't be dead," he kept saying. He refused to leave the house. He refused to talk much. He refused to eat. Four weeks later he dropped over dead without a word. "He died of a broken heart," says Shirley. She buried them in the cemetery up the hill from her home, side by side.

Tillman died a hero and a patriot. But his death is a wake-up call to the nation that every day -- more than 500 times since President Bush declared "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended," more than 800 times since the invasion of Afghanistan -- a family must drive to the airport to greet their dead child. The only difference this time is that the whole country knew this child.

In the little house in Bellaire, any patriotism was swallowed up by sorrow. "There was no reason for my boy to die," says Shirley. "There is no reason for this war. There were no weapons found. All we have now is a Vietnam. My Toddie's life was wasted over there. All this war is a waste. Look at all these boys going home in coffins. What's the good in it?"

Athletes are soldiers and soldiers are athletes. Uniformed, fit and trained, they fight for one cause, one team. They take ground and they defend it. Both are carried off on their teammates' shoulders, athletes when they win and soldiers when they die.

Pat Tillman and Todd Bates were athletes and soldiers. Tillman wanted to be anonymous and became the face of this war. Bates wanted to be somebody and died faceless to most of the nation.

Both did their duty for their country, but I wonder if their country did its duty for them. Tillman died in Afghanistan, a war with no end in sight and not enough troops to finish the job. Bates died in Iraq, a war that began with no just cause and continues with no just reason.

Be proud that sports produce men like this.

But I, for one, am furious that these wars keep taking them. (Reilly, Sports Illustrated, May 3, 2004)
Jonathan Tasini called reading the Reilly essay a "Walter Cronkite moment":
I experienced a Walter Cronkite moment last week that signaled to me that something is in the air about what people feel about the Iraq war. . . . My moment came after reading Rick Reilly's column in Sports Illustrated. Yes, SI, magazine to the sports-obsessed (to which I proudly belong).

What's important here is that Reilly's audience is not the typical Nation reader. He speaks to the so-called NASCAR dads, the Sunday golfers, the Monday-morning quarterbacks and the couch-potato referees. He speaks, SI estimates, to 31 million people (3.1 million subscribe to the magazine, 21 million adults read the magazine as it is passed around the family and 10 million more see the column on SI's website). It's a sizable audience -- of Cronkite-like size -- which can fairly be described as generally mainstream, and, on the whole, slightly more conservative than the average America. . . .

The response to Reilly's column has been overwhelming -- both pro and con, he says. Reilly usually gets a couple hundred responses to his columns; so far, he's received more than 2,000 -- most of them messages of agreement. It may be an overstatement, today, to say Reilly's column had the same impact as Cronkite's national commentary more than 36 years ago. But, as Reilly told me, sports is a tightly woven part of the fabric of our lives, an activity through which we can converse and reach huge swaths of the public. Who knows who Reilly touched? ("A Cronkite Moment?", May 7, 2004)
I wish that the delegates at the Green Party's national convention had all read Reilly's column and considered the public opinion reflected in it. Never before in the history of US wars have the conditions for giving an electoral expression to an anti-war movement through a third party been more promising, as far as public sentiments are concerned. Alas, the Green Party appears to have missed the "Walter Cronkite moment." By choosing David Cobb over Ralph Nader by a slim majority and handing the swing states to John Kerry on a silver platter, the Green Party essentially elected to divorce itself from Americans who wish to vote against the pro-war candidates of the Democratic and Republican Parties.


Apparently, the Green Party is in worse shape than I thought. The Green Party vice presidential candidate Pat LaMarche announced to the press that "she would not commit to voting for herself and her running mate, Texas lawyer David Cobb" ("The Green Party's Political Suicide," June 30, 2004).

Monday, June 28, 2004

Prisoners of the Subprime American Dream, Cont'd

When the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, the gap between poorer debtor and richer creditor classes, so far hidden under a pile of cheap credit, will widen and become painfully visible:

By several measures, Americans are more indebted than ever. Through the first quarter, they owed nearly $9 trillion in home mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, home equity loans and other forms of personal borrowing —- accumulating nearly 40 percent of this total in just four years, according to published Federal Reserve data. But most of the debt is at fixed interest rates. Thus it will be unaffected initially as the central bank begins its much expected quarter-point increases in the so-called federal funds rate, now at a 46-year low of 1 percent. The federal funds rate, in turn, influences the interest rate cost of most household and commercial debt.

Only one-fifth of the $9 trillion in total household debt, or $1.8 trillion, is borrowed at variable rates. Variable rates . . . often track what the Fed does, which means they are likely to rise one-quarter of a percentage point over the next few weeks. The immediate cost for the nation's households as a result of this process could be as much as $4.5 billion. . . .

The $4.5 billion is roughly 10 percent of the cost of the rise in oil prices so far this year. That is not a big number yet, but each quarter-point increase would be another step closer to matching the oil shock, which brought gasoline prices above $2 a gallon in many parts of the country.

While the oil shock quickly raised the gasoline and heating oil bills of nearly every household, the burden of higher interest payments falls most heavily in the early stages on lower- and middle-income families. They are the biggest users of variable rate debt, particularly on credit cards, various studies show.

Upper income families, on the other hand -- that is, families with more than $80,000 in annual income -- are more likely to have fixed rate debt, particularly mortgages, and to owe relatively little on their credit cards. What variable rate debt they do have is usually at lower interest rates than lower income people. Lower income people, as a result, are 10 times more likely than upper income people to be devoting 40 percent or more of their income to debt repayment, the Economic Policy Institute reports. In addition, upper income people are the nation's biggest savers, and a rate increase raises the return on their interest-bearing securities.

"If you are a household with a lot of variable-rate debt and little equity left in your home that you have not already borrowed against, this is going to be a scary time," said Mark Zandi, who is the chief economist at . . .

Another notch up in home prices would give . . . some relief; they could float a 4 to 5 percent home equity loan against the additional value of their home and use the loan to pay down credit card debt. Tens of millions of Americans have used this route to lower the interest cost of credit card debt. With homes appreciating more slowly, there is less collateral left to support home equity loans, and paying the outstanding balances will become more costly. They totaled $375 billion at the end of last year. Home prices are a big potential casualty of rising interest rates. Sales of new and existing homes surged in May, the government reported, as people apparently rushed to become homeowners before mortgage rates went any higher. The average 30-year mortgage is already up a percentage point since early spring.

But for Stephen Black, a homebuilder here, the surge in home sales is a false signal. The customer base is already shrinking for his basic product, a two-story house with four bedrooms and a two-car garage on nearly a quarter-acre, a home currently priced at $215,000.

The buyers were families with $50,000 to $70,000 in annual income. Now they are increasingly bunched at the high end. The low end is pulling back partly because mortgages are more costly . . .

Across town, in a rundown neighborhood, the working poor are just starting to show up in greater numbers at Tabor Community Services, a Lancaster agency that counsels those deeply in debt, said Michael Weaver, president of Tabor.

The "fragile low income," as Mr. Weaver calls them, do not tend to own homes, but those who do buy them through subprime mortgage loans, in many cases with adjustable rates. Apart from housing, nearly every transaction for these consumers involves interest payments in one form or another. Lacking enough income, they rent television sets, furniture and appliances, signing agreements that can adjust upward as interest rates rise.

Like their higher income peers, Mr. Weaver's clients often take loans to buy car, in their case, used cars. But they are loans of shorter duration and higher interest rates than the standard four- or five-year new car loan, now averaging 7.4 percent. They have credit cards, but at rates above 15 percent, which convert into much higher penalties when monthly payments are late.

"These are people who are maxed out on debt," Mr. Weaver said, "and their numbers are growing." (Louis Uchitelle, "Families, Deep in Debt, Facing Pain of Growing Interest Rates," New York Times, June 28, 2004)
Cf. Tamara Draut and Javier Silva, "Borrowing to Make Ends Meet: The Growth of Credit Card Debt in the '90s" (September 8, 2003).

Prisoners of the Subprime American Dream?

A while ago, I posted an entry on the housing bubble "The Day of Reckoning on the Home Front" (June 4, 2004). Here's a follow-up. Take a look at the chart below (New York Times, June 24, 2004):
The subprime and nontraditional mortgages account for nearly half of all mortgages. A lot of these loans can go bad quickly, once the Federal Reserve raises interest rates. An anecdote from the New York Times article that came with the chart above illustrates the precarious financial conditions of many homebuyers:
For years, Ray and Shahrazad Daneshi sought to buy a home, only to be told that they did not earn enough to qualify for a mortgage. But they recently managed to buy a small house in the shadow of Disneyland for $360,000 - six times their annual income - thanks to a lender who allowed them to borrow the entire value of the home, with no down payment.

"We will not be going to any movies or eating out at restaurants," said Mr. Daneshi, a self-employed wedding photographer who came here from Iran in 1988. "But in two years, the house will be worth a lot more and we will have something to show for it."

The Daneshis' purchase underscores the new, ever-optimistic economics of home buying. A kaleidoscopic array of mortgages for people with little cash or overstretched budgets has enabled families of modest income to take on debt that once would have been beyond their reach. As long as new home buyers could count on rock-bottom interest rates and housing values were going nowhere but up, this seemed to be a virtuous circle.

But now, with the Federal Reserve expected to embark on a series of interest rate increases starting with its meeting on June 30, some experts worry that recent first-time buyers could find easy home ownership a lot harder on their wallets, possibly causing housing prices to wobble in some high-price markets.

With the Daneshis, for example, rising interest rates on the two adjustable-rate mortgages they took out to buy their house would mean that their monthly payment of $2,500 - already more half their monthly income - could go up substantially in two years. Mr. Daneshi realizes that, but is unconcerned.

"Why worry?" he said, adding that he believes rising home prices will help him obtain a better loan deal by then.With interest rates going up, that may be wishful thinking. Most analysts agree that there is no nationwide housing bubble because housing prices have climbed only slowly in the Midwest and the South, even as they have soared on the East and West Coasts. Still, if rising interest rates cause housing prices to drop, even slightly, industry officials warn that some new buyers will have no equity in their homes and could choose to walk away from their loans if they run into trouble with payments.

"A lot of these loans are dangerous," said Allen Jackson, manager of Bristol Home Loan in Bellflower, Calif., a mortgage broker who specializes in so-called subprime loans, which charge higher interest rates to people unable to qualify for traditional mortgages. "If you have any dip in values, people can just say the heck with it because they don't have any of their own money in the house." (Edmund L. Andrews, "The Ever More Graspable, and Risky, American Dream," June 24, 2004)
See, also, Blanche Evans, "Why Rising Interest Rates Will Hammer Housing" (Realty Times, June 23, 2004) and "The Perfect Real Estate Storm" (Reality Times, June 24, 2004).

Friday, June 25, 2004

"Descendants": Class Dismissed in Affirmative Action

When you look at colleges and universities today, even elite ones, you are likely to be struck by a pleasing sight of multiracial and multicultural collections of students. On the surface, institutions of higher learning have come a long way from the days of legal segregation. Sara Rimer and Karen W. Arenson of the New York Times, however, give a report that confirms what many have long suspected: the dearth of "the descendants" -- i.e., the descendants of American slaves -- at the most selective colleges in the United States.
While about 8 percent, or about 530, of Harvard's undergraduates were black, Lani Guinier, a Harvard law professor, and Henry Louis Gates Jr., the chairman of Harvard's African and African-American studies department, pointed out that the majority of them -- perhaps as many as two-thirds -- were West Indian and African immigrants or their children, or to a lesser extent, children of biracial couples.

They said that only about a third of the students were from families in which all four grandparents were born in this country, descendants of slaves. Many argue that it was students like these, disadvantaged by the legacy of Jim Crow laws, segregation and decades of racism, poverty and inferior schools, who were intended as principal beneficiaries of affirmative action in university admissions.

What concerned the two professors, they said, was that in the high-stakes world of admissions to the most selective colleges -- and with it, entry into the country's inner circles of power, wealth and influence -- African-American students whose families have been in America for generations were being left behind.

"I just want people to be honest enough to talk about it," Professor Gates, the Yale-educated son of a West Virginia paper-mill worker, said recently, reiterating the questions he has been raising since the black alumni weekend last fall. "What are the implications of this?"

Both Professor Gates and Professor Guinier emphasize that this is not about excluding immigrants, whom sociologists describe as a highly motivated, self-selected group. Blacks, who make up 13 percent of the United States population, are still underrepresented at Harvard and other selective colleges, they said. . . .

Professors Gates and Guinier cite various sources for their figures about Harvard's black students, including conversations with administrators and students, a recent Harvard undergraduate honors thesis based on extensive student interviews, and the "Black Guide to Life at Harvard," which surveyed 70 percent of the black undergraduates and was published last year by the Harvard Black Students Association.

Researchers at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania who have been studying the achievement of minority students at 28 selective colleges and universities (including theirs, as well as Yale, Columbia, Duke and the University of California at Berkeley), found that 41 percent of the black students identified themselves as immigrants, as children of immigrants or as mixed race.

Douglas S. Massey, a Princeton sociology professor who was one of the researchers, said the black students from immigrant families and the mixed-race students represented a larger proportion of the black students than that in the black population in the United States generally. Andrew A. Beveridge, a sociologist at Queens College, says that among 18- to 25-year-old blacks nationwide, about 9 percent describe themselves as of African or West Indian ancestry. Like the Gates and Guinier numbers, these tallies do not include foreign students.

In the 40 or so years since affirmative action began in higher education, the focus has been on increasing the numbers of black students at selective colleges, not on their family background. Professor Massey said that the admissions officials he talked to at these colleges seemed surprised by the findings about the black students. "They really didn't have a good idea of what they're getting," he said.

But few black students are surprised. Sheila Adams, a Harvard senior, was born in the South Bronx to a school security officer and a subway token seller, and her family has been in this country for generations. Ms. Adams said there were so few black students like her at Harvard that they had taken to referring to themselves as "the descendants." . . .

Mary C. Waters, the chairman of the sociology department at Harvard, who has studied West Indian immigrants, says they are initially more successful than many African-Americans for a number of reasons. Since they come from majority-black countries, they are less psychologically handicapped by the stigma of race. In addition, many arrive with higher levels of education and professional experience. And at first, they encounter less discrimination.

"You need a philosophical discussion about what are the aims of affirmative action," Professor Waters said. "If it's about getting black faces at Harvard, then you're doing fine. If it's about making up for 200 to 500 years of slavery in this country and its aftermath, then you're not doing well. And if it's about having diversity that includes African-Americans from the South or from inner-city high schools, then you're not doing well, either." . . .

In Professor Guinier's view, there are plenty of other blacks who could also succeed at elite colleges, but the institutions are not doing enough to find them. She said they were overly reliant on measures like SAT scores, which correlate strongly with family wealth and parental education.

"Colleges and universities are defaulting on their obligation to train and educate a representative group of future leaders," said Professor Guinier, a Harvard graduate herself who has been studying college admissions practices for more than a decade. "And they are excluding poor and working-class whites, not just descendants of slaves." . . .

While Harvard officials ignore the ethnic distinctions among their black students, Harvard's black undergraduates are developing a body of literature in the form of student research papers.

Aisha Haynie, the undergraduate whose senior thesis Professor Guinier cited, said her research was prompted by the reaction from her black classmates when she told them that she was not from the West Indies or Africa, but from the Carolinas. "They would say, 'No, where are you really from?'" said Ms. Haynie, 26, who earned a master's degree in public policy at Princeton and is now in medical school.

Marques J. Redd, a 20-year-old from Macon, Ga., who graduated in June and was one of the editors of Harvard's black student guide, said that Harvard officials had discouraged them from collecting the data on who the black students were.

"But we thought it was one aspect of the black experience at Harvard that should be documented," he said. "The knowledge had power. It was something that needed to be out in the open instead of something that people whispered about." ("Top Colleges Take More Blacks, but Which Ones?" June 24, 2004)
If colleges and universities want to, it should be possible to correct this problem, by creating a system of affirmative action that takes both race and class into account. Michael Berube, in fact, proposed one such formula, modelled ironically upon the rules of a sport once considered a ruling-class preserve -- golf:
[T]here is a way to "norm" the SAT, not only for race but for sex, income, region and level of parental education. (Every one of these variables is critical. Rural students average 998, while suburban students average 1,066. Boys outscore girls by 43 points. Most important, children of parents who have graduate degrees outscore children with parents who didn't finish high school by a staggering 272 points.) And the best way to do it is by taking a page from a sport whose country-club associations belie its deep structural commitment to redistributionist justice: golf.

Golf is proud, and rightly so, of the fact that its handicap system allows hackers to play alongside champions. And if only the SAT were as well organized and as egalitarian as the U.S.G.A., every high-school student would be assigned a handicap. We already have all the numbers we need; all we need to do is to combine "region" and "parental education" with the race-gender-class triad, and we can issue remarkably precise handicaps -- more precise even than golf handicaps, since the SAT's permit neither mulligans nor "winter rules."

The system would be complex, but certainly no more complex than the process by which every single golf course in the United States, from Pebble Beach to Van Cortlandt Park, is assigned a course rating. And it would be controversial, but no more controversial than the U.S.G.A.'s epochal decision in the mid-70's to base handicaps on 96 percent rather than 80 percent of a player's 10 best scores in the last 20 rounds. Golf traditionalists screamed that the 96 percent standard was an index of creeping socialism, sort of like a 96 percent top tax rate. They were right. And golf has been a better game because of it.

Take a black girl from rural Alabama whose parents make under $10,000 and did not graduate from high school, and put her up against the wealthy white boy from Lake Success whose parents have Ph.D.'s. Before she sets pen to paper, she could be facing an 848-point SAT deficit. If we assign her only 80 percent of the parental-education gap (217.6 points), 60 percent of the income gap (155.4 points), 30 percent of the racial gap (61.8 points), 20 percent of the regional gap (13.6 points) and 10 percent of the gender gap (4.3 points), the 452.7 point handicap will help us gauge her true talents more accurately. Fair enough, no? The reason we'd have to scale the percentages is that the various categories overlap, but I don't see any problem there -- certainly it's easier than scoring a golf match on the Stableford system.

Would there be the occasional injustice? Of course, just as there is in every round of golf and every SAT test. Because I play only 8 to 10 rounds a year, for example, it has taken me two years to expunge the horrible 94 I shot on a short, easy course in the middle of a 40-m.p.h. wind. And August's rains doubtless explain why I recently followed a sparkling 38 on the front nine with a 48 on the back. It wasn't fair, I tell you. I couldn't even get the club on the ball in that soggy rough. But I digress. The important thing is that golf -- a game, notably, in which success has long been tied to race, sex and income -- has much to teach the College Board. Thanks to golf's handicap system, I can someday fill out a foursome with Tiger, Annika and Michelle Wie, and the U.S.G.A. will give me about a stroke a hole. And that's the kind of diversity of which any campus, and any country club, can be proud. ("Testing Handicap," New York Times Magazine, September 21, 2003)
So far, Berube's proposal has found no institutional taker. While a complex handicap system is no substitute for universally excellent free education from kindergartens to graduate schools in a classless society, it seems certainly worth a try until we arrive at such a utopia, especially since the original formulae of affirmative action have become largely dismantled by legal challenges from white students who did not think they benefited from them and enlisted the assistance of right-wing law firms like the Center for Individual Rights. Berube's handicap system can give working-class whites, as well as Blacks, Latinos, and women, a stake in promoting affirmative action.

Dogville: God Doesn't Bless America

The message of Dogville (Dir. Lars von Trier, 2003) is simple and stark: God Doesn't Bless America. Dogville, a microcosm of America, fails Grace, a proverbial stranger:
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matt. 25:31-46)
Lars von Trier has been occasionally criticized as misogynist, given his predilection for the spectacle of female suffering: the Emily Watson character in Breaking the Waves, the Björk character in Dancer in the Dark. Nicole Kidman, being a bigger star than Watson and Björk, manages to appear untouched by the degradations inflicted upon her character, which is in keeping with her character's allegorical role.

Peter Camejo vs. David Cobb: S/RES/1546

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviews Peter Camejo and David Cobb: "To Nader or Not to Nader?: A Green Party Debate" (June 23, 2004). Camejo's opening salvo is that "[t]he Nader-Camejo ticket will clearly be the anti-war ticket in this campaign":
The Nader-Camejo ticket will clearly be the anti-war ticket in this campaign. The polls already show eight million people supporting us. We have a full-time staff of 20 people working on this campaign. And what we're trying to do is get the word out about the truth about George Bush's policies, unlike John Kerry we don't call for more troops to Iraq. We oppose the invasion. We oppose the policies that the United States has carried out. And this will be the campaign that people will relate to and work with and I think the Green Party absolutely needs to become part of this campaign. In fact, it already is. Not only because I'm the Vice-Presidential candidate, but because of the thousands upon thousands of people who are volunteering to work for the Nader campaign, probably half of them are Greens. The fact is there's no question the majority of Greens in the United States who favor having an Independent third-party force out there fighting against this war are working with the Nader campaign. (June 23, 2004)
The reason is not simply wider public recognition and media coverage that Nader and Camejo enjoy than Cobb and his as-yet-unnamed running mate. Cobb has the same problem as what many pro-war liberals do: he believes that "We can't just cut and run and leave the mess for the Iraqi people to deal with" (June 23, 2004). As Camejo reminds us, "You heard him [Cobb] here say we can't cut and run. That is the expression that Kerry uses to justify continued U.S. occupation" (June 23, 2004). Hence Cobb's proposal:
I call upon the American people, including members of Congress, to demand that June 30th truly be a day when the U.S. relinquishes power by announcing that by that date all U.S. troops will be withdrawn, with one possible exception.

A newly-constituted, genuinely broad-based interim Iraqi government should be set up in cooperation with the United Nations within the next month and a half. It will be up to that newly-constituted interim government —- not the U.S. and not the U.N. -- to determine what peace-keeping forces are necessary, from which countries they should be drawn, and if any U.S. troops should stay longer than June 30th while those forces are being assembled, transported and put into place. ("Cobb Calls for End of Occupation by June 30," April 15)
According to his own proviso, however, Cobb would have to support the continuing occupation of Iraq, now that the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted on June 8, 2004 for a new US/UK-drafted resolution S/RES/1546 (2004), conferring legitimacy upon the "interim government" headed by a CIA asset Iyad Allawi:
  • Iyad Allawi, now the designated prime minister of Iraq, ran an exile organization intent on deposing Saddam Hussein that sent agents into Baghdad in the early 1990's to plant bombs and sabotage government facilities under the direction of the C.I.A., several former intelligence officials say.

    Dr. Allawi's group, the Iraqi National Accord, used car bombs and other explosive devices smuggled into Baghdad from northern Iraq, the officials said. . . .

    The Iraqi government at the time claimed that the bombs, including one it said exploded in a movie theater, resulted in many civilian casualties. . . .

    One former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was based in the region, Robert Baer, recalled that a bombing during that period "blew up a school bus; schoolchildren were killed." Mr. Baer, a critic of the Iraq war, said he did not recall which resistance group might have set off that bomb.

    Other former intelligence officials said Dr. Allawi's organization was the only resistance group involved in bombings and sabotage at that time. . . .

    When Dr. Allawi was picked as interim prime minister last week, he said his first priority would be to improve the security situation by stopping bombings and other insurgent attacks in Iraq -- an idea several former officials familiar with his past said they found "ironic." . . .

    Dr. Allawi is not believed to have ever spoken in public about the bombing campaign. But one Iraqi National Accord officer did. In 1996, Amneh al-Khadami, who described himself as the chief bomb maker for the Iraqi National Accord and as being based in Sulaimaniya, in northern Iraq, recorded a videotape in which he talked of the bombing campaign and complained that he was being shortchanged money and supplies. Two former intelligence officers confirmed the existence of the videotape.

    Mr. Khadami said that "we blew up a car, and we were supposed to get $2,000" but got only $1,000, according to an account in the British newspaper The Independent in 1997. The newspaper had obtained a copy of the tape. (Joel Brinkley, "Ex-C.I.A. Aides Say Iraq Leader Helped Agency in 90's Attacks," New York Times, June 9, 2004, p. A1+)

  • "I was the head of a political organization in touch with at least 15 intelligence services across the world and in the region," Allawi said after a cabinet meeting. . . .

    The New York Times reported Wednesday that Allawi's group, the Iraqi National Accord, sent agents into Baghdad in the early 1990s to plant bombs and sabotage government facilities.

    It cited former intelligence officials as saying they used car bombs and other explosive devices smuggled into Baghdad from northern Iraq. . . .

    Allawi did not comment directly on the bombings, which the former Iraqi government claimed caused many civilian casualties. . . . (Lin Noueihed/Reuters, "New Iraqi PM Not Ashamed of CIA Links," June 9, 2004)
As Camejo points out, "Obviously this [interim government] is a puppet government. It is going to call for the U.S. to stay" (June 23, 2004). Rather than Cobb's, the Green Party needs a position that makes it unmistakable that the party opposes any attempt by Washington to establish a puppet government in Iraq, unilaterally or multilaterally or even with unanimous support of the UN Security Council -- least of all, one headed by a man like Allawi.


Below are the key passages of S/RES/1546 (2004) -- The Security Council:
8. Welcomes ongoing efforts by the incoming Interim Government of Iraq to develop Iraqi security forces including the Iraqi armed forces (hereinafter referred to as "Iraqi security forces"), operating under the authority of the Interim Government of Iraq and its successors, which will progressively play a greater role and ultimately assume full responsibility for the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq;
9. Notes that the presence of the multinational force in Iraq is at the request of the incoming Interim Government of Iraq and therefore reaffirms the authorization for the multinational force under unified command established under resolution 1511 (2003), having regard to the letters annexed to this resolution;
10. Decides that the multinational force shall have the authority to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq in accordance with the letters annexed to this resolution expressing, inter alia, the Iraqi request for the continued presence of the multinational force and setting out its tasks, including by preventing and deterring terrorism, so that, inter alia, the United Nations can fulfil its role in assisting the Iraqi people as outlined in paragraph seven above and the Iraqi people can implement freely and without intimidation the timetable and programme for the political process and benefit from reconstruction and rehabilitation activities;
11. Welcomes, in this regard, the letters annexed to this resolution stating, inter alia, that arrangements are being put in place to establish a security partnership between the sovereign Government of Iraq and the multinational force and to ensure coordination between the two, and notes also in this regard that Iraqi security forces are responsible to appropriate Iraqi ministers, that the Government of Iraq has authority to commit Iraqi security forces to the multinational force to engage in operations with it, and that the security structures described in the letters will serve as the fora for the Government of Iraq and the multinational force to reach agreement on the full range of fundamental security and policy issues, including policy on sensitive offensive operations, and will ensure full partnership between Iraqi security forces and the multinational force, through close coordination and consultation;
12. Decides further that the mandate for the multinational force shall be reviewed at the request of the Government of Iraq or twelve months from the date of this resolution, and that this mandate shall expire upon the completion of the political process set out in paragraph four above, and declares that it will terminate this mandate earlier if requested by the Government of Iraq. . . . (June 8, 2004)
As Zeynep Toufe commented on the draft of S/RES/1546 (2004), Clause 12's provision that "the mandate for the multinational force shall be reviewed at the request of the Government of Iraq or twelve months from the date of this resolution" (June 8, 2004) is "meaningless since, of course, the United States has a veto over the U.N. Security Council. In other words, the reviewer is the reviewee" (Zeynep Toufe, "The New Draft UN Resolution Allows for Perpetual Occupation," CounterPunch, May 26, 2004).

Moreover, let's not be fooled by the proliferation of the term "the multinational force" in S/RES/1546 (2004). Clause 31 of the resolution makes clear who is in charge: the Security Council "Requests that the United States, on behalf of the multinational force, report to the Council within three months from the date of this resolution on the efforts and progress of this force, and on a quarterly basis thereafter" (June 8, 2004).

Last but not the least, if the next President of the United States decides to invade Iran or Syria, in the name of protecting "the interim government" of Iraq from "terrorists activities," he will be sure to invoke the following clause of S/RES/1546 (2004) -- the Security Council:
17. Condemns all acts of terrorism in Iraq, reaffirms the obligations of Member States under resolutions 1373 (2001) of 28 September 2001, 1267 (1999) of 15 October 1999, 1333 (2000) of 19 December 2000, 1390 (2002) of 16 January 2002, 1455 (2003) of 17 January 2003, and 1526 (2004) of 30 January 2004, and other relevant international obligations with respect, inter alia, to terrorist activities in and from Iraq or against its citizens, and specifically reiterates its call upon Member States to prevent the transit of terrorists to and from Iraq, arms for terrorists, and financing that would support terrorists, and re-emphasizes the importance of strengthening the cooperation of the countries of the region, particularly neighbours of Iraq, in this regard. . . .(June 8, 2004)
Remember that S/RES/1373 was one of the key Security Council resolutions that the White House bandied about in its search for a veneer of legality to cover the illegal and immoral invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq: "President Bush Speaks to United Nations: Remarks by the President to United Nations General Assembly" (November 10, 2001) and "President's Remarks at the United Nations General Assembly" (September 12, 2002)? While neither S/RES/1546 (2004) nor 1373 (2001) nor any other resolution mentioned in the above clause expressly authorizes an act of war, 1373 (2001) does contain a very useful clause that created a number of obligations that even a strong state -- much less a state bordering on a war zone where no effective government exists -- would find it impossible to fulfill completely:
2. Decides also that all States shall:
(a) Refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts, including by suppressing recruitment of members of terrorist groups and eliminating the supply of weapons to terrorists;
(b) Take the necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist acts, including by provision of early warning to other States by exchange of information;
(c) Deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts, or provide safe havens;
(d) Prevent those who finance, plan, facilitate or commit terrorist acts from using their respective territories for those purposes against other States or their citizens; . . .
(g) Prevent the movement of terrorists or terrorist groups by effective border controls. . . (September 28, 2001)
The claim that Washington will make is that Iran or Syria violated one of the above.

Abu Ghraib Photographs as Blinkers

Slavoj Zizek claims that, "[i]nstead of the direct, brutal infliction of pain, the US soldiers focused on psychological humiliation" ("Between Two Deaths: The Culture of Torture," London Review of Books 26.11, June 3, 2004). Zizek, like George Neumayr and Rush Limbaugh, compares the US torture of Iraqis to fraternity hazing and Robert Mapplethorpe photographs. If not just right-wing ideologues like Neumayr and Limbaugh but also liberals like Zizek can block out images and reports of torture that involves "the direct, brutal infliction of pain," it is safe to conclude that Abu Ghraib photographs of naked Iraqi captives have become not so much revelations as blinkers.

One of the earliest reports of the US-led coalition troops' torture and murder of Iraqi detainees came from Amnesty International last year -- "Memorandum on Concerns Relating to Law and Order" (Amnesty International, July 23, 2003), which was not ignored by the print media:
Iraqis detained by U.S. troops have complained of torture and degrading treatment, Amnesty International said Wednesday [July 23, 2003].

There were also reports of troops shooting detainees, the London-based human rights watchdog said in a report based on interviews with former prisoners of the Americans across Iraq.

Iraqis detained by U.S. troops accused their captors of torture and degrading treatment, rights group Amnesty International reported on July 23, 2003, calling on the occupying forces to bring human rights violators to justice. Detainees also said troops had shot some captives, the London-based rights watchdog reported, in a study based on interviews with former prisoners of U.S. forces across Iraq.

Amnesty staff heard complaints that included prolonged sleep deprivation and detainees being forced to stay in painful positions or wear hoods over their heads for long periods.

"Such treatment would amount to 'torture and inhumane treatment' prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention and by international human rights law," Amnesty said. . . .

Amnesty has said thousands are held in prisons run by U.S. troops. They include Abu Ghraib, one the most feared jails under Saddam, and Camp Cropper near Baghdad's airport.

The human rights group said it had received several reports of cases of detainees who have died in custody, "mostly as a result of shooting by members of the coalition forces." (Reuters, "Amnesty: Iraqis Complain of Torture by U.S. Forces," July 23, 2003)
Activists also heard stories like this one about a young man picked up by US soldiers at the Souk el-bayâaa market:
I couldn't believe my eyes! Is it so easy to torture someone in an Iraq liberated from Saddam?

Yet the marks on the body of Al-Mountadhar Fadhel, a young Iraqi student of 23 years old, were so undeniably real, shocking, and above all completely unacceptable. . . .

"The only words I kept repeating non-stop were, "I did nothing! Let me go!" Shortly after, I was picked up and my head was shaved. "I had long hair," said Al-Mountadhar with a note of regret in his voice. Next, I was pushed face towards the wall and my hands were tied above my head. When the first blows hit my body, I couldn't stop myself from crying, not so much because of the pain, but because I found all of this so incredibly unjust coming from those who were claiming they had come to liberate us from the oppression of Saddam. They beat me for hours. It was an eternity. At each blow from what seemed to be a thick cable, I felt my flesh tear. I could hardly hear the words of my torturer, "To teach you to push an American back. Why did you push an American back?" I lost consciousness several times, but each time was revived. It was horrible. I had never thought I would live such an experience outside Saddam's regime." (Zahira Houfani/Iraqi Solidarity Project, "Human Rights American Style [Part II]: The Torturers Have Changed, the Victims Stay the Same," Occupation Watch, July 30, 2003)
A hint of women being subjected to the same treatment as men also made an appearance last year:
[M]uch of what detainees saw was intolerable, Naif said, "especially when we saw Iraqi women punished in the same way as men.''

When one detainee shouted to his sister in a nearby women's tent, the guards punished the woman, Naif said. Seeing her lying bound in the sun, the brother angrily started to cross the razor wire ringing his tent, "and they shot him in the shoulder," Naif said.

"The worst thing was their treatment of the women," said Saad Naif, who spent time both at the airport and at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, where tents spread across the prison yards.

"Innocent women were kept for months in the same clothes," he said. He said he remembered in particular an elderly woman "whose hands were tied up and she was lying in the dust.''

Saad Naif said he saw a prisoner shot dead at Abu Ghraib when he approached the razor wire. (The Associated Press, "Iraqis Tell Grim Stories of U.S.-run Camps," Toronto Star, October 29, 2003)
Reports of electric torture surfaced, too, in the aforementioned Amnesty International report and journalists' investigations:
  • Sadiq Zoman Abrahim, 55 years old, was detained this past August in Kirkuk by US Soldiers during a home raid which produced no weapons. He was taken to the police office in Kirkuk, questioned by the Americans there, then transferred to Kirkuk Airport Detention Center.

    It was from this detention center he was transferred to Tikrit Airport Detention Center. While in this detention center Mr. Abrahim managed to find a man who was about to be released, and have him pass on to his family information about where he was.

    It was from this place that the Americans transferred him, comatose, to the hospital in Tikrit.

    Acting on this information the family searched the hospital, but was unable to find him. While there, hospital staff (who wish to remain anonymous) informed them they had someone in a coma by the name of Abrahim Sadiq Zoman, who was dropped off two days prior by the Americans.

    According to staff at the hospital, the only information provided by the Americans was the incorrect name and a medical report which said Mr. Abrahim had suffered a heart attack. They provided no information as to where he had been picked up, no address and no other personal information.

    It is documented by both the hospital and Iraqi Red Crescent in Tikrit (who took the photos of Mr. Abrahim), that the Americans dropped the comatose man off with the aforementioned information. Before his family had found him, the Iraqi Red Crescent had posted photos of Mr. Abrahim on buses leaving Tikrit in hopes of someone recognizing him, as noone in the city knew who he was.

    In the photos taken by the Red Crescent, Mr. Abrahim appears with long hair and an unshaven, scruffy face. The staff at the hospital shaved him, and cleaned up his ragged appearance.

    The doctors at the hospital in Tikrit, after performing diagnostic tests, informed the family that Mr. Abrahim had suffered massive head trauma, electrocution, and other bruises on his arms. An EKG proved that his heart was functioning perfectly. The family was told that he was in an unrecoverable state and would be in a coma for the rest of his life from the obvious trauma suffered.

    The family decided to take him to Haitha, where CT and CAT scans proved the man was in a hopeless condition. In despair, the family then took Mr. Abrahim to Baghdad, where the same tests verified his vegetative state as being permanent.

    Now, today, three months later Mr. Abrahim lies dormant, his eyes staring blankly at the ceiling, blinking slowly from time to time, yet completely unresponsive to any stimuli.

    This horrible situation raises many questions.

    If the Americans knew who he was and where he was when they detained him, why did they fail to provide this information to the hospital when Mr. Abrahim was dropped off?

    Why did the Americans fail to notify the hospital of Mr. Abrahim having an accident if there had been one?

    How do you explain the massive head trauma, the burns on the bottoms of his feet caused by electrocution and bruises on his arms, if he had only suffered a heart attack as the medical report provided by the Americans states? (Is the US military torturing Iraqis with electricity? (Dahr Jamail, "Is the US Military Torturing Iraqis with Electricity?" Electronic Iraq, January 8, 2004)

  • A widower and the father of two young boys, Baha al-Maliki worked as a hotel receptionist in the Iraqi city of Basra until September 14 of last year. That day, British soldiers arrested him and seven other hotel workers, saying they had found a stash of weapons hidden in the hotel. His family learned nothing of his whereabouts until three days later, when British soldiers came to their door to tell them he was dead. When al-Maliki’s father retrieved his body from the hospital, according to Amnesty International’s Khaled Chibane, "it was severely bruised and covered in blood." The cause of death listed on his death certificate, says Chibane, was asphyxiation, apparently from being hooded during his interrogation. "It was obvious that he had died," Chibane says, "as a result of torture."

    Al-Maliki is not the only Iraqi to have died under disturbing circumstances while detained by coalition forces. Though they have received minimal attention in the U.S. press, allegations of mistreatment of detainees have been surfacing persistently for at least the last six months. The allegations range from generalized neglect — unsanitary conditions and exposure to the elements — to beatings, electric shock and other forms of torture. (Ben Ehrenreich, "The Torture Files: Iraqi Detainees Allege Mistreatment and Abuse," LA Weekly, February 6-12, 2004)
Here's one of the latest reports: according to Douglas Jehl of the New York Times, "Beatings were accepted enough at Abu Ghraib that some soldiers recorded the number of stitches their victims required with tack marks on the wall. In the worst cases in Afghanistan and Iraq, abuse resulted in deaths, including 10 cases now being investigated as homicides" ("Rules on Prisoners Seen as Sending Mixed Messages to G.I.'s," June 22, 2004). Even if you take the view of the US Justice Department that, for an act to qualify as physical torture, it "must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death" (Mike Allen and Dana Priest, "Memo on Torture Draws Focus to Bush: Aide Says President Set Guidelines for Interrogations, Not Specific Techniques," Washington Post, June 9, 2004, p. A3), you would have to conclude that the occupiers have committed countless acts of physical torture. Why, then, is painful and sometimes deadly physical torture of Iraqis by the occupiers invisible to not only Limbaughs but also Zizeks, even though Abu Ghraib photographs themselves contain images of death (see below)?

Have they managed to overlook the photographs of the Iraqi dead accidentally? Not very likely. Then, what exactly makes them turn a blind eye to some of the most widely disseminated images of death by torture in the history of photography?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Coalition: Vast Majority of Iraqis Still Alive

"Coalition: Vast Majority of Iraqis Still Alive" (The Onion 40.25, June 23, 2004).

Republished in VHeadline

My June 23, 2004 blog entry "Buy Venezuelan Bonds" is now republished in VHeadline: "Chavez' Record of Debt Management Has Been Excellent . . . and High Oil Prices and Big Foreign Reserves Should Continue to Bolster Investor Confidence" (June 24, 2004).

A Day without a Mexican

Here's a new disaster film -- A Day without a Mexican/Un Día sin Mexicanos (Dir. Sergio Arau, 2004):
Watch the film's trailer at its official website.
The film envisions a mysterious cloud that envelops California and magically removes all the Latinos. The results are comical -- as in the case of the state senator's wife who must tackle the laundry without domestic help and the Border Patrol agents who fear for their jobs after all the migrants vanish. They are also pointed -- as schools and day cares shut down and panicked shoppers mob supermarkets for the last fresh fruits and vegetables. . . .

The disappearance leads Californians who once were dismissive or contemptuous of Latinos to hold candlelight vigils, where they sing "De Colores" with bad Spanish accents and march around with placards reading "Come back, amigos."

. . .[The director Sergio Arau and his wife Yareli Arizmendi who co-wrote the film's script] got the idea for the film when they visited New York and found the city observing a "Day Without Art," on which museums and galleries closed down to draw attention to the devastating effect of the AIDS epidemic on the art world.

"I said, 'Maybe what California needs is a day without Mexicans,' to revalue the role we play," said actress Arizmendi, who stars in the film and who was born in Mexico and raised in the United States. (Tyche Hendricks, "Dónde Están the Hired Hands?: 'A Day Without a Mexican' Portrays California Lacking a Third of Its People," San Francisco Chronicle, June 4, 2004)
A Day without a Mexican is a gentle satire (which Joe Rodriguez of The Mercury News says is "too polite" ["Who Would Pick Crops, Mow Lawns and Do Dishes?" June 11, 2004]), but what if the United States government actually succeeded in deporting all "illegal aliens" in the real world? "El profesor Raúl Hinojosa, de la Universidad de California en Los Angeles (UCLA) también actúa en la película y acaba de publicar un nuevo libro en que explora el impacto de la falta de inmigrantes en la economía californiana. 'La quinta economía más grande del mundo (la de California) está basada en la contribución de los inmigrantes', dijo hace poco a la prensa. 'Si realmente desaparecen todos los latinos en California sería una crisis mucho peor de como está en la película'" (Jorge Ramos Avalos, "Estados Unidos sin Latinos," June 7, 2004). Hinojosa's research demonstrated, for instance, that, based on a conservative estimate of 3 million undocumented Mexican workers, "[a] reduction in the undocumented Mexican immigrant population to zero [alone] would produce a dramatic drop in U.S. economic output (about $155 billion)" (Raul Hinojosa Ojeda, "Comprehensive Migration Policy Reform in North America: The Key to Sustainable and Equitable Economic Integration," August 2001, p. 6). Some advocate a more restrictive immigration policy, arguing that more immigrants, expanding the labor pool, depress wages, but Hinojosa says that further restrictions on immigrant rights, such as adoption of a neo-Bracero program, would produce a reduction in immigrant wages, which would in turn increase the demand for low-wage undocumented immigrants (August 2001, p. 6). In contrast, legalization of undocumented workers has been shown to raise their wages, creating a higher floor for wages of all workers: "Real wages of legalized undocumented workers rose an average of 15% in the 4-5 years following legalization, compared to declining real wages in the years prior to legalization" (US Department of Labor, 1996, p.43, qtd. in Hinojosa, August 2001, p. 28).

Since its May premier in cities with large Latino populations, A Day without a Mexican has done well in the United States: "It may not be on as many screens as some of the summer's big blockbusters, but the movie 'A Day Without A Mexican' has consistently sold out shows since it's recent opening" (Vivian Tamayo, "'A Day Without A Mexican' Released in Houston Theaters," June 1, 2004). See, also, indieWIRE:BOT's "Box Office Table" (June 2, 2004). The film will open in Latin America in August (Diego Cevallos/IPS, "Latinos or Chaos," June 23, 2004).

The film's funding, too, was a cross-border affair:
Respecto de la producción Yareli agregó: "Sentimos bonito de que se haya realizado con una inversión mexicana y algo de española, porque es un poco irónico traer capital de fuera para contar la realidad de los hispanos en California, y si, es cierto, un gran porcentaje de los mexicanos que llegan a Estados Unidos ocupan con gran dignidad empleos que los estadunidenses de pronto no quieren hacer, y se convierten, paralelamente, en uno de los pilares que sostienen la economía del país más poderoso del mundo, porque con su trabajo colaboran para hacer realidad el sueño americano. ("Impresionante Respuesta del Público a Un Día sin Mexicanos en California," La Jornada, May 27, 2004)
A darker irony, however, is that, while the high-concept film has achieved a modest success, making the US economy's dependence on labor of legal and illegal immigrants visible to the audience, immigration sweeps have struck fear into the hearts of many immigrants, bringing the film's images to life "without the comedy":
Across Southern California, in Ontario, Corona and Escondido, cities with Latino majorities, the streets are practically deserted. Storeowners complain of low sales. Residents avoid being seen in public, afraid that the U.S. Border Patrol will detain them and take them away.

Mothers call newspapers or immigrant organizations to ask, "Should we take our kids to school today?" and "Is there no danger?"

Outside on the streets, patrols roam: It's the immigration police, who detain people to find out if they are in the country legally. If they're not, residents are taken to detention centers to be processed for deportation to Mexico.

Suddenly, the script of the recent "mockumentary" film, "A Day Without a Mexican," seems to have become reality, but without the comedy. Right now in California there are sick people who don't dare go to clinics, business owners who fret about a 60 percent drop in sales, women who call their acquaintances asking if it's safe to go shopping.

In short, millions of people -- both longtime residents and recent immigrants -- are beset by the fear of being expelled.

"Those who didn't regularize their immigration status," says Raúl Villarreal, spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, "should have known that one day they would be found." Besides, he adds, "enforcing the law" is nothing new; similar immigration enforcement activities have been conducted in Texas and the Southwest.

At the headquarters of immigrant rights organizations, telephones don't stop ringing. Many of the calls come from terrorized residents: "I'm calling to report a sweep at the Chino swap meet," says one caller. "Police are collaborating with La Migra (immigration agents)."

At times the person who calls is an English-speaker who won't accept being spoken to in Spanish. "I'm calling to protest against the illegals, because it's time that they go back," one says. Some are more threatening, conflating their hatred of undocumented immigrants with the organization itself: "Leave, we'll burn your building down."

Such is life in a season of immigration sweeps in Southern California. The authorities hate the word "sweeps" because it connotes random checks. They insist that the raids are part of a search for coyotes (human traffickers) through operations based on specific information obtained from local and state police and "people in the community."

Around 500 undocumented immigrants have been detained since the beginning of June, when a mobile unit of 12 agents from the U.S. Border Patrol Station in Temecula, Calif. began to operate. The unit's jurisdiction is 3,000 square miles. The large radius of action means the unit can act autonomously, without having to respond to orders from superiors.

U.S. Border Patrol spokespeople insist that there is no new policy behind the sweeps, and that there is no reason for alarm.

So, why is the Latino community so alarmed? Why was there such a clamor that even the Mexican President Vicente Fox had to complain about "the abuses" during a trip to Chicago? Why did up to 10,000 people march in protest -- many joining the marches spontaneously -- in Ontario, Pomona, Pasadena and other cities?

The fears are not unfounded; they are based on what people are experiencing. The population of undocumented immigrants in the state is of course much larger than the 500 people detained. Some even put the number as high as 7 million. In the United States as a whole there are 3 million children who are U.S. citizens but whose parents are undocumented.

Some undocumented immigrants have lived here 10, 15, 20 years but have not legalized their status due to apprehension, apathy, a stubborn conservatism, ignorance or poverty. Because of the comfort of their daily routines -- they pay taxes, have jobs, families, refrigerators filled with food -- the undocumented tend to gradually achieve a feeling of safety.

The recent raids have punctured that thin film of security, horrifying millions of people and making them feel hunted.

Fear is the source of rumors that the detentions have expanded to Norwalk, Long Beach, Pasadena, San Fernando, San Bernardino, Santa Ana, Huntington Park, Santa Barbara -- cities where the Border Patrol denies carrying out operations.

The rumors increase the sensation of disquiet and vulnerability, feed on themselves, multiply and worsen the climate of intimidation. There's an overriding feeling that in this country, immigrants, even the well-established ones, are not safe.

Immigration raids far from the border were common in Southern California until 1994, when the emphasis shifted to military-style surveillance directly along highly trafficked border areas. Aggressive interior enforcement decreased, and when it did recur, mass protests often embarrassed the Border Patrol and other agencies into retreat.

The recent operations -- call them sweeps or patrols -- could continue, as government spokespeople have promised they will. They could expand to other areas if, as some people suspect, the recent detentions were a kind of pilot plan.

If they do continue, the sweeps could destroy the security of millions of people all over the country, generate more controversy and animosity and become an election-year issue.

A decade ago, anti-immigrant ballot initiatives sparked the emergence of a social protest movement in solidarity with immigrants. If the raids continue, there may be another resurgence of comparable pro-immigrant political activism. (Gabriel Lerner/Pacific News Service, "Immigration Sweeps Mean Disrupted Lives, Silent Streets," June 21, 2004)
If Ralph Nader, overcoming his populist ambivalence toward immigration, follows the lead of Peter Miguel Camejo, the Green Party and the Nader/Camejo campaign will have a role to play in the hoped-for resurgence of pro-immigrant organizing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Buy Venezuelan Bonds

Daniel Davies of D-Squared Digest (who nowadays mainly posts to Crooked Timber) says:
I have two pieces of Marxist financial advice (note to regulators: no I don't). Depending on your own financial circumstances and risk appetite, blah blah, I would:

1. Find a life assurance company run by people you trust and chuck it all into one of their long-dated policies.

or for the more adventurous

2. Chuck it into the bonds of more or less politically palatable emerging market countries. Venezuela has a few series of quite high-yielding bonds available, and buying them would both help Chavez to buy a little time to fend off the hegemon, and offer the possibility of a nice capital gain when and if he eventually fails and Vene becomes a US protectorate. Sort of a win-win situation, if you have a rather perverse definition of what constitutes a "win". (Progressive Economists Network, June 23, 2004)
Good advice. Despite the Venezuelan oligarchy's repeated attempts at economic sabotage, Hugo Chávez's record of debt management has been excellent, and high oil prices and big foreign reserves should continue to bolster investor confidence:
  • "I think Chavez will stay in power, whether he avoids the recall or holds the vote and wins," said Jose Pedreira, a managing director at LW Asset Management, a New York-based hedge fund.

    Wall Street, put off by Chavez's anti-capitalist rhetoric but impressed by the country's debt management policies, sees smooth sailing for Venezuelan sovereign bonds. They have already rewarded holders with total returns of 34.6 percent so far this year while the rest of the market is up 27 percent.

    Venezuela total returns have risen 3.6 percent since Dec. 1 while JP Morgan's Emerging Markets Bond Index Plus has edged just 1.6 percent higher. . . .

    "Venezuela bond prices have been going higher because, at the end to the day, Venezuela is in good shape in terms of being able to pay its debts," Pedreira said. "Other emerging market countries offer much less yield, which continues to make Venezuela attractive." (Hugh Bronstein/Reuters, "Venezuela Bonds Seen Rising above Political Woes," December 7, 2003)

  • Venezuela offered to buy back $1 billion of six-month dollar-denominated bonds after a surge in oil prices swelled government coffers.

    The government, which had sold the securities to local investors in March, offered to buy the 1.15 percent notes due Sept. 30, 2004, at 100 cents on the dollar, or par.

    "They've had huge revenue off the oil side for quite some time and huge reserve levels," said Enrique Alvarez, a Latin American debt analyst with research company IDEAglobal in New York. "And they're very comfortable repurchasing this since they're done selling dollar debt the rest of this year."

    Venezuelan oil has averaged $30 a barrel this year, more than the $18.50 estimate the government used to calculate this year's budget. Venezuela, the world's fifth largest crude supplier, will likely receive between $5 billion and $7 billion of extra oil income this year, Central Bank Director Armando Leon said last month. (Alex Kennedy, "Venezuela Offers to Buy Back $1 Billion of Bonds,", June 7, 2004)

  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez "has almost unlimited supplies of cash, with Venezuelan oil selling at over $30 a barrel, foreign reserves of more than $23 billion, and few qualms about using public funds to bolster his campaign for a 'no' vote" (Phil Gunson, "Chávez Well-armed in Recall Battle," Miami Herald, June 22, 2004).
Credit rating agencies have been extremely tough on Venezuela, to be sure, but that's only because they are politically motivated. Bondholders have not lost confidence in the Bolivarian Republic:
Venezuela, for instance, is rated Caa1 by Moody's -- one of the lowest ratings, even among high-yield, or "junk," bonds -- and a full two notches below Brazil's B2 high-yield rating. Yet yields for Venezuelan bonds are comparable to those of Brazil. That means the market isn't demanding a higher premium from Venezuela, despite the lower rating.

Investors like Mr. Hopper say this is understandable. Venezuela is a big oil producer and boasts foreign reserves that more than cover its debt, while Brazil's don't. "Venezuela has been volatile, and at times overdiscounted by the market," he says. "The ratings agencies have contributed to that." (Craig Karmin/The Associated Press, "Ratings Take on Political Risk," June 21, 2004)

To Be Young, Cosmopolitan, and Muslim

There are many blogs published by liberal cosmopolitan Muslims, some of them consciously designed to make cultural interventions in the affairs of their own communities as well as matters of national and international politics.

One of the noteworthy cosmopolitan Muslim blogs is Islamicate, which, among other things, recently weighed in on the gay marriage question: "The Reel News" (February 2004) and "Marriage Is a Gay Event" (June 2004).

HijabMan -- who just graduated from a four-year state university, having studied "Psychology, Middle Eastern Studies, and Women's Studies," and who says his long-term goal is to become "a full-time, paid, dancing imam of a mosque" -- is another, and he may soon make an appearance in the New York Times Magazine: "Salafis, LGBTQ Muslims, and LittleAfghaniGirl, Part 1: Friday Prayer" (June 20, 2004) and "Salafis, LGBTIQ Muslims, and LittleAfghaniGirl, Part 2: LGBTIQ Muslims" (June 21, 2004). A very charming blog.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Green Party National Convention, June 23-28, 2004

The Green Party National Convention will begin tomorrow -- the only party convention where delegates will actually debate issues and make political decisions -- most importantly, whether to endorse the Ralph Nader/Peter Camejo campaign, to nominate David Cobb as the Green Party presidential candidate, to endorse both the Nader/Camejo and Cobb campaigns, or not to nominate/endorse anyone for the presidential election. The Democratic and Republican Party Conventions, in contrast, are merely photo opportunities for John Kerry and George W. Bush.

If supporters for John Kerry had been smarter, they would have deliberately joined the Green Party in droves and promoted the Cobb candidacy, since Cobb's "safe states" strategy would reduce the Green Party from a full-fledged political party intent on replacing the Democratic Party and becoming the main mass political party for the working class and our allies to just another liberal interest group designed to lobby the Democratic Party from the left:
David Cobb of Texas, the leading Green Party candidate for president, supports a "safe states" campaign. He argues the Green Party should campaign aggressively in states where Bush or Kerry is likely to win easily, but back Kerry in the battleground states that could decide the election. (John Wildermuth, "By Adding Camejo as VP Choice, Nader Could Boost Ballot Visibility," San Francisco Chronicle, June 22, 2004)
Today, the Green Party is nearly evenly divided between those who think like Camejo and those who think like Cobb. As I mentioned in the entry titled "Vote Nader/Camejo 2004!", I believe that the announcement of the Nader/Camejo ticket yesterday will tip the balance in favor of an all-out campaign for Nader/Camejo 2004, but we shall see if Green delegates have the guts to refuse to bow to political pressures from the Democrats and break the vicious cycle of activist dependency on the Democratic Party -- the so-called politics of protest, aka "activistism" (cf. Liza Featherstone, Doug Henwood, and Christian Parenti, "'Action Will Be Taken': Left Anti-intellectualism and Its Discontents"): three years of protests against what Gore Vidal called "the property party, which essentially is corporate America, which has two right wings"; the presidential election year during which activists retreat, protest mainly the Republicans, and apologize profusely for the Democratic Party in the name of pragmatism (aka electing the "electable"); and then back to protests again. Dependency on the Democratic Party made at least some political sense until the late 1960s and early 1970s for workers fortunate enough to have good union jobs, but since then, the Democrats have ceased to deliver even in the narrowly economistic calculations of crass business unionism (cf. Yoshie Furuhashi, "Winning the Culture War, Losing the Class Struggle," Dissident Voice, May 4, 2004). It is high time for activists to break the bad habit of feeding the political animal that always bites us back. We have to build our own political party, not another liberal interest group. The choice for Greens at the convention is clear: support Camejo.

Vote for Nader = Vote for Camejo!

I just watched the June 21 press conference where Ralph Nader announced Peter Miguel Camejo as his vice presidential candidate on C-SPAN. Skip Kevin Zeese's and Nader's introductions, and listen to Camejo. Just really listen to the man. Camejo is terrific.

On top of the fact that a vote for John Kerry is a vote for John Kerry, i.e., a vote for wars and occupations, there is an even more compelling reason to vote for Nader, now that he has chosen Camejo as his running mate. The Nader/Camejo 2004 presidential election campaign will empower the left wing of the Green Party and give Camejo wider name recognition, far beyond the state of California, laying the groundwork for the exciting Camejo 2008 presidential campaign.

I look forward to 2008, when Camejo will challenge the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to televised debates in Spanish!

Vote for Nader 2004 = Vote for Camejo 2008!

Monday, June 21, 2004

Vote Nader/Camejo 2004!

Great news! Ralph Nader did the right thing and chose Peter Miguel Camejo for his running mate:
  • Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader selected Peter Camejo, a Green Party activist from California, as his vice presidential nominee on Monday.

    The pick comes just days before the Green Party will select its candidate for the White House at its national convention in Milwaukee, where Camejo said he will make the case for Nader, the party's presidential nominee four years ago.

    Although not actively seeking the Green nomination, Nader said he would accept it and the access to 22 state ballot lines the party selection brings with it. . . .

    Camejo ran as the Green Party candidate for governor of California in the special election won by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. Camejo appeared in the campaign's only nationally televised debate and won 3 percent of the vote. He also ran for governor in 2002, winning 5 percent.

    The son of Venezuelan immigrants and fluent in Spanish, Camejo said at the press conference announcing his selection he would lead the Nader campaign's outreach to Hispanics, a traditional Democratic constituency.

    The campaign's central issue, Camejo said, would be opposition to the war in Iraq, and criticized Bush and Kerry for having identical positions. . . .

    His campaign turned in about 40,000 signatures on Monday to get on the Illinois ballot, more than the required 25,000. Petitions have also been completed in Texas and Arizona and are awaiting certification. . . . (Rolando Garcia/Reuters, "Independent Nader Taps Green Party Activist for VP," June 21, 2004)

  • Presidential candidate Ralph Nader on Monday tapped longtime Green Party activist Peter Camejo to be his running mate, a move certain to boost the independent's chances of winning the Green Party's endorsement this week and its access to ballot lines in nearly two dozen states. . . .

    "I'm a member of the Green Party, I'm very proud of being a Green," Camejo said. "But I am so happy to join with Ralph Nader in the broader coalition he is trying to build to present an alternative for this election that stands on principles of social justice, peace in the world and equality."

    The announcement came before the Green Party convention beginning Wednesday in Milwaukee. Nader, who ran as a Green candidate in 1996 and 2000, is not seeking the party's nomination, but he has actively pursued its endorsement.

    One Green Party leader said a Nader-Camejo ticket would have a strong chance of winning the party's backing.

    "This is an opportunity for Nader to make an overture to the party membership," said Ben Manski, one of five co-chairs of the Green Party. "I think it certainly would put him much more in the running but not a guarantee."

    The Green Party has ballot access for a presidential candidate in Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. . . .

    . . . Camejo, 64, launched a spirited defense of Nader's decision to run for president despite critics who label him a spoiler. "They don't realize what they are saying," Camejo said. "It's not Ralph Nader's rights they're going to deny, it's the voters. The voters will decide who they want for president." (Sam Hananel/The Associated Press, "Nader Selects Green Party Activist Peter Camejo as Running Mate," June 21, 2004)
Nader's choice of Camejo as his vice presidential candidate makes it much easier for the left wing of the Green Party -- of which Camejo is the most prominent member -- to get the party to endorse the Nader campaign at its national convention. Now, the promise of the Nader campaign has dramatically increased quantitatively and qualitatively. The Nader/Camejo ticket will likely receive the Green Party's 22 state ballot lines and, in addition to Nader's own efforts so far and the Reform Party's 7 ballot lines, can mount an all-out campaign in almost all states! Camejo will move the Nader campaign's politics sharply to the left, too, especially on issues such as immigration on which Nader's own rhetoric at times has been found wanting by left-wing activists. Now, we're really good to go!

Vote Nader/Camejo 2004!