Love him or hate him—or still blame him for the kinda-election of George W. Bush—the legendary Ralph Nader is coming to Sonoma State University on Tuesday, Oct. 4 to speak to students and the public alike.
Nader recently released his first novel, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us. His speaking topic at SSU? "Fixing Our Broken Economy."
I'd expect a lot of suggestions for taxing the rich, possibly including visual graphs that look like this—a clear picture of our nation's debt and the wars and policies enacted by George W. Bush that got us there.
What I wouldn't expect? Comments like those on election night 2008, when he speculated on-air, without hesitation, if President Obama was going to be "Uncle Sam for the people of this country, or Uncle Tom for the giant corporations."
Ralph Nader speaks on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at the Sonoma State University Cooperage. 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. 7:30pm. $10 public; $5 SSU staff and faculty; free to SSU students. 707.664.2382.
For the past four days, a group of people have gathered outside the Republican Headquarters on East Washington Street in Petaluma to exercise their right to free speech. But no one’s holding Obama signs—California being a foregone conclusion in the Presidential race—no, the entire focus is on Proposition 8, which, if passed, would amend the California constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
On Wednesday afternoon, reaction to those carrying No on 8 signs was mixed. Shortly after the assembly began, a woman from inside the Republican Headquarters looked out the window, gave the middle finger, and then turned around to bend over and shake her posterior.
Later, more volunteers emerged from the Republican Headquarters, where Yes on 8 signs were displayed in the window and on the lawn. One told the crowd to get jobs, saying that she didn’t want to “pay for your food, or your welfare.” Another one emerged with a Yes on 8 sign and quoted Bible scriptures, claiming rather strangely at one point that people don’t die in wars. Another asserted that she thought same-sex couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples, but didn’t think it was a good idea to redefine the word “marriage.”
More people showed up. One of the demonstrators, Eva Gangale, a mother with a small infant, walked across the crosswalk at E. Washington Street holding a No on 8 sign to join the crowd. A car drove by, and the driver yelled out the window. “Your kid’s gonna grow up to be a faggot,” he said.
And yet most of the passing drivers honked, waved and gave thumbs up. Several leaned out their windows to say thank you. A passing pedestrian, who explained that he had an hour to kill before an appointment, asked if there were any extra signs; he picked one up and joined the gathering.
Still more demonstrators arrived, almost spontaneously: an Iraq veteran, Arthur Wallis, came to voice his support. He held a sign that said: “Vet. Straight. No on 8,” and wore his military uniform. When a Republican volunteer walked up and asked him, “Are you a veteran, or are you just wearing that?” he explained that yes, he was in fact an veteran of the Iraq War.
A mother passing on the street, Paulette Carlés, saw the crowd and approached with her two children, Isabel and Gabe. She wore a yellow t-shirt which endorsed the reading of books. She had gotten increasingly flustered with the numerous Yes on 8 signs posted around town, and was glad to see that she wasn’t alone.
She excitedly called her husband, who was home making dinner. He stopped what he was doing, drove down, and held a sign too.
It’s not too late to donate to No on 8.More photos by Elizabeth Seward below.
Dan Pulcrano, our executive editor and the owner of our paper, weighs in with his recommendation for the land's highest office.
There’s something profoundly wrong with an economic system that sells homes cheaply, then takes them away from young families; that encourages wasteful energy consumption while fuel prices double and ExxonMobil serially breaks corporate profit records ($12 billion last quarter). And there’s something immoral about a political order that allows its leaders to invade countries on pretext, then fails to hold them accountable; that end-runs international and constitutional principles on torture and incarcerating the innocent while endeavoring to globally spread its values.
The Republican administration in Washington turned surpluses into deficits, peace into war, prosperity into chaos. It failed to address the rising costs of food, health care and college tuition and ignored the decline of public education and the earth’s atmosphere. It let Detroit collapse, and New Orleans drown.
In short, the Republicans that America elected screwed up the country, and it’s time to take it back.
With an abysmal record to run on, the GOP has taken to questioning the patriotism of its opponents, conducting a campaign of innuendo and guilt by association. The irresponsible fearmongering and demagoguery had predictable results.
When John McCain posed the rhetorical question “Who is Barack Obama?” amid the worst financial stress of our lifetimes, he riled the lynch mob. Given McCain supporters’ use of Obama’s middle name and the campaign’s exaggeration of his relationship to a ’60s radical, the demonization took its next illogical step.
In the end, McCain was forced to answer his own question and declare that Obama was a decent family guy of whom Americans didn’t need to be afraid, but with whom he had differences. If that’s what the election’s about, why didn’t McCain just stick to policy differences in the first place? (The Obama campaign, other than posting an informational video, resisted making a big deal out of McCain’s close friendship with Savings and Loan criminal Charles Keating.)
McCain’s lurching, shambolic campaign and confused messaging—Obama’s a terrorist, no he’s a family man—is precisely what’s not needed to calm the jangled nerves of consumers, bankers and nuclear wannabes around the planet at this critical juncture.
McCain’s hurried selection of a charming yet unqualified political extremist who abused official powers to settle a family matter exhibited the kind of rush to judgment that created the debacle in Iraq. Keep him away from that nuclear button!
Luckily, there’s an alternative in one of the brightest political lights to emerge on the national stage in decades. We chose Barack Obama early on, for his measured intelligence, cool persona and smart embrace of technology.
Sen. Obama’s continuing success in winning over Americans of all colors, religions and economic classes reconfirms our early support for an Obama presidency. His focus on positive themes and inspirational messages displays an intuitive flair for leadership. He has run a better campaign, organizing neighborhood teams and making innovative use of modern digital tools. He has a better bench, with an experienced vice president and seasoned advisers. His formidable yet diverse funding base will leave him less beholden to special interests.
His election offers a possibility to turn the page on racial division, Cold War thinking and widening class divides. Though the challenges are greater than ever, the recent wake-up calls present an opportunity, with inspired leadership, to finally tackle the health-care crisis and achieve alternative energy breakthroughs that will reduce dependence on unstable foreign oil–producing nations.
Maybe he can’t walk on water. But Obama is a unique talent who arrived at a critical moment in history. For America, the choice is clear.—Dan Pulcrano
Women's LPGA World Championship, Half Moon Bay:
We do find it more than curious that the only person arrested at yesterday's May Day march in downtown Santa Rosa (other than seven gang members who violated parole by hanging out outside the mall) was CopWatch activist Ben Saari. Indeed, Saari—cofounder of Free Mind Media—was probably only one of a handful of people out of the estimated crowd of 2,500 who exactly knows how to interact with officers without violating his or their rights. Yet he was nonetheless hit with a misdemeanor charge of interfering with an officer and had to post $2,500 bail. We called him up this morning as he shook the jail experience out of his head. Here is his side of the story.photo of May Day march 2007 by Brett Ascarelli "What happened was that I was just finishing the march going past Santa Rosa City Hall and in front of the Court House, the minutemen were out—they’re right-wing racist vigilantes—and they were being protected by the Santa Rosa police department. I got a phone call that cameras and observers were needed at Juilliard Park behind the stage, so I hustled over there. When I got through the crowd to the edge of the park, what I saw was one officer with a very agitated dog amid a crowd of thousands of people. The officer was visibly panicked and shouting at people to back up. There were three other officesrs with extendable batons employed and they were engaged in a face-off with a group of young people, mostly teenagers. The police weren’t giving any clear or consistent commands. Police approaching from three different directions were shouting to backup. It’s confusing, it’s hard to comply with, you don’t know what’s going on. The police tactics were really confused, really chaotic and my experience is that when police behave that way, situations escalate quickly. The police were trying to encircle this group of young people and push them out of the park. At that point, I had no idea what was going on. One of the officers yelled at me that there was a group of Norteñas behind me. When the Santa Rosa police department calls someone a gang member, I don’t trust it. That’s a convenient way to arrest people without evidence.
The police encircled this group and were trying to push them out. The police were really aggressive, really combatative. I was asking for clarification—where do you want us to go, what do you want us to do. At one point, an officer shoved me and I asked him why he was doing that, and he told me that if I didn’t stay out of his way I would be arrested. I said, I won’t get in your way. He increased his pace, shoulder-checked me and arrested me.
I think that the police were phenomenally disorganized and didn’t know what to do in a crowd to deescalate tensions or they were trying to pick a fight. I can’t . . . I have suspicions about why they would want to do that. It was definitely the effect they had, they were obviously scared and they weren’t issuing clear orders to anybody in the crowd. When we were being moved out of the crowd, I started walking out with a young man and a young woman and the officer who arrested me engaged them in a belligerent and embattling conversation. He was making accusations that they were a criminal element, that they were up to no good. When you are a police officer and you have suspicion of probable cause, there are things you can do and if you chose to bait people hoping that they will rise or sink to the bait and do something arrestible. By California law, it’s not entrapment, but it’s fishy, especially when it’s adult men doing it.
My intention was to not interfere with an officer. I was swept up in a police escalation of a conflict."
“Five years ago today, President Bush took to the oval office to tell the world that the invasion of Iraq was underway. Five years later our country finds itself in an unwinnable quagmire, a failure so great that it will forever overshadow the lengthy list of President Bush’s other disappointments and missed opportunities during his eight years in office.“The invasion of Iraq has cost us the lives of nearly 4,000 of our nation’s bravest and brightest men and women. Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, have been taken from their families and loved ones, which represent the greatest and most horrific sacrifice that any nation could ever be forced to bear.“But theirs has not been the only sacrifice. So far, over 40,000 Americans have returned from Iraq with the irreparable physical and mental wounds of war - scars that will last for their rest of their lives, and will affect them in ways that we can’t even imagine. And hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have been caught in the cross fire of a violent civil war that has further propelled Iraq into darkness and hopelessness.“And then there is the financial cost of this President’s mistake, which Nobel Laureate Economist Joseph Stiglitz recently projected will cost our nation at least $3 trillion over the next decade. What is most damning about this figure, however, is the lost opportunity costs that it represents. At a time when some children are forced to learn in crumbling schools, when too many seniors are forced to chose between putting food on their table and buying the prescription drugs that they need to survive, when homeowners wonder how they will keep pace with their rising mortgage payments, and most jarring of all, when our veterans, the very people that this President sent to war in the first place, are forced to wait for months to see a doctor, we are spending over $11 billion a month on an unwinnable occupation.“That’s why so many of us continue to voice our opposition, day in, and day out. We’re fighting on behalf of every family who will lose a loved one while fighting in Iraq, every family who will struggle even though they live in the richest country in the world, and on behalf of the people of Iraq who want to control their own destiny.“At this hour, at any hour, our nation is better than this. It’s far past time that we help restore America’s reputation in the world, refocus our energy on rebuilding our own country, and return Iraq to the Iraqi people. Our troops have done everything that has been asked of them, it’s time to bring them home.”
Found on the phone booth at Fourth and D in Santa Rosa: