Someone Sit Obama Down and Make him Watch ‘Boogieman’!

boogiemanI had the pleasure this morning of interviewing Stefan Forbes on my radio program, Uprising, about his new documentary, Boogieman: The Lee Atwater Story. I had only heard vague mentions of the name Lee Atwater but really had no idea how influential to American political campaigning he was, until I watched the film. This young Republican upstart from South Carolina, wrote the script-book for today’s GOP election tactics. Not surprisingly he was Karl Rove’s mentor.

Coming of political age in the College Republicans, Atwater learned early in life that he enjoyed engineering political wins rather than winning himself. He compared politics to war and decided that winning at all costs was worth it. In that spirit, Atwater spread rumors about people’s personal lives, played to the racism of white working-class Americans, manipulated the media, and even planted lies. All, in order to win an election.

Atwater helped Reagan win election, earning a place in the White House while only in his thirties. Eventually he came to be George H W Bush’s chief campaign strategist, a role that marked the zenith of his career. Engineering a win for an unpopular candidate meant discrediting rival Democrat Michael Dukakis using any means necessary. Including the racist Willie Horton ads.

Eventually his disgraceful behavior and extremely high stress caught up with him. In 1991 Lee Atwater was diagnosed with brain cancer and in the last years of his life was thought to have apologized to his political victims. According to Boogieman film maker Stefan Forbes, this is debatable and in fact Atwater was spinning lies all the way to his grave for political effect.

But think about it for one moment. If the Republican Party needs to resort to such low-down dirty tricks in order to get candidates elected, it follows that they would lose election after election if Americans started to see through them. The party’s platform is so unpopular among ordinary Americans, that they have to be driven by their basest fears into voting Republican. What does this say about so-called Republican values?

Still, Republican strategists like Atwater and Rove would never be able to pull off what they do, without such an easily manipulated and lazy media. The smears only gain traction because they are reported uncritically. When they are retracted it is often too late to matter.

Atwater may be dead but his ugly legacy lives on. Think Florida 2000, Ohio 2004, Valarie Plame, Swiftboat Veterans, and on and on. Even John McCain himself has been a victim of the type of disgusting underhanded political campaigning that Atwater exemplified. During his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000, Karl Rove started a rumor that McCain fathered an illegitimate bi-racial daughter – a stain that contributed to his loss in favor of George W Bush. In fact that dark-skinned daughter was adopted by McCain and his wife from Bangladesh. Despite McCain’s vow never to resort to that type of negative political campaigning himself, once his poll numbers started sinking in this year’s election, he shamefully hired a man named Tucker Eskew, a close friend of Atwater who was interviewed extensively in Boogieman, to prepare his running mate Palin for prime-time.

The ghost of Lee Atwater lives on in this year’s presidential election. His colleagues and apprentices have managed to turn the Black, deeply Christian candidate with middle class roots and a background in community organizing, into an elite professorial type who is out of touch with the middle and working classes. Oh, and he’s a closet Muslim too. And he plays the “race-card.” Meanwhile, McCain has been transformed into a God-fearing man of the people, despite his lack of devoutness, despite losing count of the vast number of houses and cars he owns, despite being married to one of America’s wealthiest women who flies around in her own private jet. Shockingly, it is McCain who is portrayed as having become the victim of Obama’s reverse racism.

Near the end of the film Boogieman, a contrite Michael Dukakis reveals the major lesson of his political life – when mud starts slinging, don’t just stay silent and weather the storm: fight back. Trying to “rise above it” as he tried to do during the 1988 race against George H W Bush, Dukakis remained tainted by Atwater’s ghastly smears and lost the election.

Quick, before its too late, someone sit Obama down and force him or his aides to watch Boogieman.

Bombing Pakistan: Candidates Debate a Moot Point

McCain ObamaWhen Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama said last year that air strikes against Pakistan were a viable option, much controversy was made of it. The Senator was called naive and inexperienced in foreign policy. But Obama’s mistake was not the strategy he proposed, but expressing that strategy out loud.

That’s what his rival John McCain said during last Friday’s Presidential debate: “[Obama] said that he would launch military strikes into Pakistan. Now, you don’t do that. You don’t say that out loud.”

Apparently McCain’s problem is that when you bomb an ally, you do it on the sly. Like his fellow Republican, President Bush is already doing.

Yes, we are already bombing Pakistan. But the foreign policy advisers of both candidates apparently failed to inform them.

Not only are we dropping bombs into Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province from unmanned drones, but the Pakistani Army is now firing back. A few days ago, they shot down an unmanned drone. Most recently, NATO helicopters were fired at as they strayed into Pakistani territory.

Embarrassingly for John McCain, his running mate Sarah Palin, who appears increasingly clueless, was caught on tape saying exactly what Barack Obama said – that the US should bomb Pakistan if it needed to. Watching the McCain campaign do numerous double flips to retract her comments and defend her is dizzying to watch.

‘Take Out’ Proves Movie Making On a Dime

The newest indie film, Take Out, about an undocumented Chinese worker and his struggle to make ends meet, is proof positive that telling a good story is far more crucial to the success of a film than props, set design, or even quality of film used. Shot entirely on a digital hand-held camera, writers and directors Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou have made Take Out‘ a winning combination of perfectly sparse writing and powerful acting.

ming dingRelatively new to the US, Ming Ding, a delivery boy for a divey New York Chinese restaurant, owes a loan shark a lot of money. He borrowed it to send back home to the family he left behind so they could pay back the debt they incurred in paying his way to the US. The shark deploys thugs to demand $800 toward the debt by nightfall or else the debt will be doubled. Ming Ding goes to work bruised from a beating and depressed. His jovial friend Young, played by Jeng-Hua Yu, who it seems has been smarter about getting into dicey debts, offers to help him with some cash and his share of the deliveries on a very rainy day the Big Apple.

The deliveries that Ming makes, and the various customers’ reactions are just as interesting as the story itself. On full display is New York’s racial and class diversity, complete with a smattering of racist behavior toward the stoic and monosyllabic Chinese immigrant who hides well his desperation for the tips he’s counting on. What actor Charles Jang, who plays Ming, does not say in words, is made tangible by the slump of his shoulders, and the grim set of his jaws. When a customer fails to tip, the viewer can’t help but take it personally.

This day in the life of Ming Ding captured in Take Out exposes how little most of us think of the daily travails and struggles of migrant labor. What makes Take Out exceptionally powerful is the quiet determination of Ming, who refuses to expose his dilemma except to his close friend, and even then he does it reluctantly. The more experienced immigrant workers in the restaurant’s kitchen pitch in to help their brother – they know full well the pain, fear, and desperation he is going through.

youngDespite the clearly depressing premise, Take Out has its moments of humor, particularly from Ming’s friend Young, who appears nonchalant about the kindness he has bestowed on his friend. Young loiters in the kitchen of the grimy restaurant – a setting as real as most of the actors and even customers – and ribs his fellow employees. He plans to own a restaurant in six years, like the owner of the one he works at – a middle aged Chinese woman known only as “Big Sister.”

Take Out’s only real downside is the severe motion sickness it can provoke in some theater-goers (like me), whose brains respond negatively to a constantly jerking camera (think “Blair Witch Project” set in the daytime rainy bustle of New York).

While Take Out ultimately falls prey to a cliched twist near the end, it defies the temptation to perpetuate the myth that in the US, the hard work and perseverance of immigrant workers is always rewarded with a slice of the American dream. Ming says he sometimes wonders why he had come to the US at all. Seeing how his hard labor is exploited to uphold an American lifestyle that includes cheap Chinese food delivery on whim, we wonder why immigrants endure such a life. And then, perhaps, we take them less for granted.

More information about the film at:

Killing Afghan Civilians: A Little Context

Much attention has been paid to the numbers of US troops being killed in Afghanistan this year – surpassing the numbers killed in Iraq despite there being about a third as many troops in Afghanistan as in Iraq. But what of the Afghans killed?

The Taliban and the US/NATO forces were competing with one another this year for who could kill more civilians. Members of the Taliban use suicide bombers as weapons, while US/NATO forces use bombs, and in some cases, snipers and grenades. Wikipedia, using a variety of reliable sources (Associated Press, United Nations, Human Rights Watch, etc), has tallied that since the start of the war, “insurgent actions” have resulted in 2,016 – 2,449 direct deaths, while “US-led military actions” have led to 3,922 – 4,841 direct deaths.

As analyst and Afghanistan expert Conn Hallinan pointed out in an interview I did with him this morning on Uprising, all those killed by the Taliban who are not US/NATO troops are assumed to be civilians. While those killed by US/NATO forces are always assumed to be “insurgents” unless proven otherwise. This implies that the civilian death toll at US/NATO hands is likely a vast underestimate.

Still, it is worth it to extrapolate the number of deaths caused by the US and NATO to numbers that Americans can relate to. Using the low end of the range mentioned above – 3,922 deaths at the hands of US-led military efforts – that number is proportionally equivalent to a foreign-led military operation killing about 37,000 civilians in a country the size of the US over the past seven years.

Another aspect of the tally above is that the US-led military actions have led to twice as many deaths as the Taliban over seven years! Using deaths alone as a measurement of the impact of the two occupations – a Taliban occupation is less dangerous for the average Afghan. If accounting for the fact that the Taliban’s killings are in response to the US/NATO occupation, that’s nearly 8000 Afghans killed directly or indirectly as a result of a Western occupation for the past seven years.

However, the Taliban are no friends of Afghanistan (and neither are the warlords in parliament for that matter). While they may enjoy some popular support that is increasing, their rule in the 1990s was among the worst periods for Afghan people. If more Afghans are choosing the Taliban today, it is as the lesser of two evils, rather than a desire to see this fundamentalist extremist regime in power – the nation-wide jubilation at the Taliban’s defeat in 2001 is a testament to their real unpopularity.

Still, it is worth it to examine the impact of the US/NATO occupation, to counter the myth that “we aren’t doing enough in Afghanistan.” We’re doing enough alright – in fact, we’re doing far too much. And it’s time we stopped.

Feds Try Afghan Drug Lord, Former US Ally

noorzaiA suspected Afghan druglord went on trial this week in New York for attempting to smuggle tens of millions of dollars worth of heroin from Afghanistan into the US. Afghanistan is currently the world’s most prolific producer of heroin. Not coincidentally, Afghanistan’s drug trade has gone hand-in-hand with US policy in that country.

In the 1980s, the US backed and financed, along with its Saudi allies, a massive holy war on Afghan soil against the Soviet occupation. It was at that time that heroin production in Afghanistan peaked globally. Narcotics were the untraceable currency which paid for weapons on the black market. These weapons eventually ended the Soviet occupation and helped the US win the Cold War. Nearly two decades later, under a US/NATO occupation, Afghanistan has earned the distinction of world’s greatest heroin producer for the second time.

Ironically heroin production under the Taliban slowed drastically as that regime responded to UN sanctions. My partner-in-crime, James Ingalls, wrote all about it in December 2000 in an article called Smart Sanctions on Afghanistan: The Real Target is Peace, as Afghans Suffer. But those sanctions were hypocritical – they only sought to curb drug production by the Taliban, not our allies, the Northern Alliance (or, as they used to be called: The United Front). The Northern Alliance (NA) warlords have hideous pasts as war criminals and jihadi drug lords, and were the very same men who led the drug-financed operation against the Soviets in the 1980s followed by massacres of ordinary Afghans in the early 1990s. Fast forward to a year after the UN sanctions were in place: after the 9-11 attacks, the NA helped the US defeat the Taliban and, as a reward, were given high positions in government. As an added bonus, there was a tacit understanding that their poppy farms would be overlooked.

Seven years later, Haji Bashir Noorzai is in New York, facing life imprisonment for drug smuggling into the US. In fact he is a minor player in Afghanistan’s landscape of corruption, crime, and political intimidation and is distinguished by not being a member of the central government. Warlords far more powerful and even more clearly linked to crimes hold power in Afghanistan’s parliament, part of the central government supported by the US. Men like Yunus Qanooni, Barhanuddin Rabbani, Mohammad Mohaqiq, and Abdul Rabb al-Rasul Sayyaf, whose crimes are documented by Human Rights Watch, wear a mantle of democracy in today’s Afghanistan. Additionally, Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s own brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, is linked to serious drug smuggling. And, worse, Izzatullah Wasifi, the current head of the Afghan government’s anti-corruption authority, once spent more than three years in a Nevada prison for selling heroin in Las Vegas.

While Noorzai fought in the US-financed jihad against the Soviets, he eventually allied himself with the Taliban, hoping that they would stabilize Afghanistan during the bloody 90s. As is the case with most of the corrupt militia leaders in Afghanistan that the US has worked with, Noorzai went the way the wind seemed to be blowing and once more changed his allegiance back to the US in 2001 when he helped defeat and disarm the Taliban. Now, he is puzzled as to why the Americans would treat an ally with such disrespect and has offered to share information about the notorious Taliban leader Mullah Omar in exchange for leniency in his case.

According to the New York Times (9/8/08), the US government is accusing Noorzai of aiding the Taliban:

He also provided weapons and manpower to the Taliban, the indictment says. In exchange, the indictment says, the Taliban provided him with protection for his opium crops, heroin laboratories and drug-transportation routes.

At the time of his arrest, Karen Tandy, then chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said the operation had “removed one of the world’s top drug traffickers,” and someone, she added, who “for too long, devastated the country of Afghanistan.”

Not surprisingly, Tandy takes no responsibility for the US encouragement of Afghan heroin sales when it has been beneficial to Washington. An excellent history lesson on the US role in the Afghan drug trade can be found in Alfred McCoy’s 2003 book, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade.

Further in the same New York Times article, Noorzai’s version of the story is found through the words of his defense lawyer, Ivan Fisher and his own affidavit:

Mr. Fisher wrote that Mr. Noorzai was an ardent supporter of the United States-supported government in Afghanistan, and cooperated with American military and intelligence agencies in the years before and after the 2001 terror attacks.

Mr. Noorzai, in his own affidavit, said that in 1982 he began to lead a small force that grew to 1,000 mujahedeen fighters in the war between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union.

In 1990, he said, he used his network of tribal contacts to help the C.I.A. recover Stinger missiles that the United States had provided to the Afghan rebels. He eventually turned over about 12 missiles, he said.

While Noorzai maintains that he was not paid by the US for his help in defeating and disarming the Taliban, he was likely the exception. The majority of Afghan drug lords and warlords were hired with financial and political incentives to help defeat the Taliban. In an October 2003 article I published in Foreign Policy in Focus, I detailed some of the financial ties:

The cooperation of warlords such as Fahim and Qanooni was central to U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom and in fact they were paid off by the United States and Britain in return for supporting Karzai and fighting against the Taliban. In July 2002, the UK Observer “learnt that ‘bin bags’ full of U.S. dollars have been flown into Afghanistan, sometimes on RAF planes, to be given to key regional power brokers who could cause trouble for Prime Minister Hamid Karzai’s administration. Paying the warlords for their services has triggered clashes among groups eager to win patronage from the United States. In some areas commanders have been told they will receive a top-of-the-range $40,000 pick-up truck–a local status symbol–if they can prove they have killed Taliban or al Qaeda elements.”

So why would the US go out of its way to lure an Afghan drug lord to the US and put him on trial now? Is it possible that the war/druglords have abused their illegitimate power in Afghanistan so seriously over the past 7 years that they are jeopardizing the central government’s credibility and, by extension, the US government’s credibility? Is it possible that the US hopes to make an example of Noorzai, both to scare his colleagues in Kabul, and to appear as though it is doing something, anything, about a drug trade that has flourished under its troops’ noses?

Regardless of what happens to Bashir Noorzai, what will likely remain unchanged is the ages-old American policy in Afghanistan of this government selfishly pursuing its own interests at the expense of everything and everyone else.

There is a slim chance that the trial may have the unintended consequence of actually revealing the US’s moral compromises in Afghanistan. A Reuters article hints at the possibility:

Besides focusing on Afghanistan’s drug trade, the case may explore U.S. dealings with drug smugglers for political or security purposes.

Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters

Perfect Girls, Starving DaughtersCourtney Martin’s new book, “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters,” addresses a topic that affects every single one of us, female or male, young or old, brown or white, rich or poor. It is a book about the physical, and, more importantly, mental effects of our obsession with being thin. Going beyond the usual reasons of how society influences our behavior, Martin candidly, and at times, poetically, explores the hidden world of our deepest, darkest, desires to be perfect. While the book focuses primarily on young women, it applies equally to those of us women in our thirties and older, as well as men who are increasingly adopting dangerous eating habits themselves or are surrounded by women they love who are anorexic/bulimic or on the verge.

“Perfect girls” are intelligent, high-achieving, often athletic, and effortlessly thin – or so they would like to seem. But inside each perfect girl is a starving daughter who is aching to fill a void inside herself, who binges and purges with regularity, or who counts every calorie and skips meals toward starvation. This analysis by Martin aims at a particularly vulnerable place for every single one of us. We all know the psyche of the perfect girl and the starving daughter. We have either been there ourselves or are surrounded by people who have. Refreshingly in her book Courtney Martin reveals her own past struggles with being on the verge of an eating disorder.

The only rational reason for wanting to lose weight, says Martin, is for health reasons. Yet, the drastic measures many women (and increasingly men) take to lose weight are anything but healthy. Yo-yo dieting strains the heart, over-exercising ruins the joints, constant starving and malnutrition worsens the immune system, bingeing and purging causes gastro-intestinal problems, anorexia while pregnant increases the chances of birth defects, and so on.

On the other hand, eating sensibly, while occasionally indulging in a glass of wine, or a slice of chocolate cake is far more healthy. A regular and reasonable exercise regimen of 3-5 hours a week improves the immune system, maintains a healthy heart, etc, etc. But, it may not be enough to make those among us who are naturally heavy, appear skinny. So our image-conscious, skinny-obsessed society condemns us to perceptions of laziness, ill-health, and avarice. When in fact it is likely the other way around. Worse, our society rewards the emaciated, the bony, and the unrealistically proportioned among us. Hence, it rewards starvation, body obsession, and ultimately, ill-health.

But who among us has not observed our thick waistlines in the mirror and balked in disgust? Who among us has not skipped a meal as a result of that disgust? And who among us, after feeling starved for a few days, has not broken down and consumed a pint of ice cream or a package of cookies? The only ones among us who are effortlessly thin are those who are genetically pre-programmed to be so. They are the lucky ones whose DNA has hit the jackpot in our thin-rewarding-era. No matter what or how much this small minority eats, they remain skinny. The rest of us pretend we are really naturally skinny people trapped in the bodies of outwardly normal people. We want our battles with weight, when they are successful, to seem effortless, as though we too are among those pre-programmed by our DNA to be thin and thus powerful. But eventually we have to face our truths and our bodies as they are. And we have to love ourselves as we are.

But it is SO damn hard when everywhere around us women are pictured on billboards as stick figures coveted by all, filled not with flesh, but power. These emaciated women, whose thighs are the size of my upper arms, are physically waif-like, but appear omnipotent. And if the women in the magazines and on billboards are not really as skinny as they are supposed to be, a little creative Photo-shopping will do the trick! Such images must make even the models and actresses themselves unable to live up to their air-brushed selves. And if they can’t who can?

One of the most disturbing things Martin reveals near the end of her book is the increasing prevalence of pro-Anorexia and pro-Bulimia websites run by and for young women looking for positive affirmation of their endless pursuit of skinniness. The sites are short-handedly called “pro-ana” and “pro-mia.” Imagine if alcoholics began posting to one another about the pleasures of their addictions, happy to have found a community of like-minded drunks!

Three times a week I sweat away at a local gym, lifting weights, dancing on steps, struggling to lose my pregnancy weight. I often notice the bodies of two of my instructors in particular – women taut with muscle but also fleshy. They teach up to 4 classes a day at various local gyms. I envy their bodies but then realize that I would have to match their grueling exercise routines in order to get where they are – and these two women are not even skinny enough for MTV or Cosmo! And then I wonder – what would their bodies look like if they didn’t work as exercise instructors, spending 3-4 hours, 5-6 days a week, working out? Perhaps they would look like mine.

And if I spent all that time working out, I would have little time left in the day to play with my son, cook a creative meal, enjoy eating it with my husband, read books like Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, and, of course, write blogs like this. I would spend more time worrying about my appearance than enjoying my brief time on this earth. I would waste away striving for a perfection that is illusory and more painful than it is worth. No thanks.

I highly recommend Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters to parents of young girls who may have started to become self-conscious about their growing bellies and hips, friends of “perfect girls” who seem to be disappearing in front of their eyes, and anyone who has ever personally struggled with their weight.

For more information about Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, and its author, Courtney Martin, visit

NOTE: I interviewed Courtney about her book when it first came out in hard cover last year. Read/listen to the interview here.

Stick With the Taliban?

bush bin ladenThis morning I was a guest on a Grit TV with Laura Flanders, alongside a number of other Afghanistan experts – we were discussing the proposed increase in US troops in that country and Flanders (who, by the way, is one of my favorite radio/TV hosts!) asked the question, “Is this the right war?” as many Americans across the political spectrum often proclaim. I said what I’ve said publicly before: that a military solution to Afghanistan is not the answer, that US/NATO troops are doing more harm than good, that Afghans have turned against the occupation, and that the occupation should end. I added several more details to what should happen instead but you can get all the gory details by watching the show here.

And then tonight I received a cute little email, I’m assuming in response to the interview, which I’ve pasted below:

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Stick with the Taliban.
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 10:29:36 -0500
From: Go Isolationist!!!!! (

Since you are so incensed at the US killing civilians, then why are you here in the US? You seem to have liked life when the Taliban Ruled in Afghanistan, correct? We are just looking for the head ring guy Bin Laden. You bring us him, and we\’ll leave your country and you can welcome the Taliban back with open arms. Is that a deal?

DATE/TIME : 2008-09-11 10:29:36

It always makes me smile to receive such messages – they speak for themselves. It affirms my increasing suspicion that those who blindly support war and in fact, well, not so bright.

But maybe I should humor Mike. So Mike, if you manage to read this, perhaps you could respond to the following questions that struck me while reading your email:

Q. Is the US searching for bin Laden or defeating the Taliban? Because you see those are two separate goals and bin Laden sure must be one smart guy to elude so many US troops for so long.

Q. How does killing thousands of civilians, including women and children, help us get closer to finding bin Laden?

Q. If the US hates bin Laden so much, why did the CIA work with him in the 1980s to help recruit jihadi fighters to Afghanistan against the Soviet occupation?

Q. If the US hates the Taliban so much, why did we not speak up when three of our key allies and weapons buyers recognized the Taliban as legitimate rulers of Afghanistan in 1996 (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E.)?

Q. What if the Taliban offered bin Laden to Bush and he turned them down?

Q. Why do you assume I’m from Afghanistan?

Thanks Mike!

The Ignorance and Selfishness of Drilling

gas guzzlerWith the chorus of “Drill baby, drill,” emanating from the halls of the Republican National Convention, Republicans (and to a lesser extent, Democrats) have latched onto what they consider an important election-era economic issue that will draw American votes.

And, as this Pew Research poll shows, they are correct in assuming the utter selfishness and ignorance of Americans.

As a society we seem to balk at the increased price of gas far more than that of milk and vegetables. Our gas guzzling tanks are more precious than food on the table.

So when Karl Rove and his proteges capitalize on such sentiments by announcing oil drilling as a way to lower prices at the pump, Americans rejoice.

polar bearsAnd we stick McCain-Palin signs on our front lawns blissful at the prospect of saving a few hundred dollars a year, some day in the distant future, when all the polar bears and glaciers are gone, when our wallets are empty and our stomachs growling, but our oil executives are fat and rich and our cars purring and gleaming.

First of all, drilling will not lower oil prices – not for a VERY long time. Who says so? The US government. Really. According to the Energy Information Administration, which releases official energy statistics from the government, offshore oil drilling “would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.” Read the whole report here.

Secondly, what we lose as a result of this drilling is far too precious and irreversible. The Natural Resources Defense Council, in an excellent report on the impact of oil drilling on the environment, urges us to rethink this madness: Drilling for oil could seriously damage our oceans, coastal communities and marine life.

Reflections on the RNC (And, A Resolution to Blog More Frequently)

stepford wivesI recently returned from the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota where I was part of a Pacifica Radio nightly live broadcast. While there it hit me time and again, that I felt completely out of touch with the type of Americans that identify as Republicans. Waiting in line to get into the convention hall, I was surrounded by perfectly coiffured white women in shades of pink, white, and powder blue, teetering on impossibly high heels, and smiling broadly. They sported brightly colored buttons, some with flashing lights, supporting McCain for President. I wondered: Do these folks really support brutal wars? Do they really deny global warming? Do they really want to endlessly consume oil and make corporations rich? Do they really not care about the destruction of the planet? Or the lives of soldiers (forget Iraqis and Afghans – I didn’t even go there)?

I kept being reminded of the film, The Stepford Wives. Maybe all these people are really fake robots, programmed to accept the status quo in favor of the wealthy and elite. Then I realized, no – they are the wealthy and elite.